P&P vs. P&P: Which Movie Adaptation is Better?

Pride and Prejudice: Which Adaptation is Better?

Out of all the movie adaptations of classics, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice seems to be the most debated. 

Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice (1995) (Miniseries)
Stars: Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle, Susannah Harker
Episodes: 6
Pride and Prejudice 2005
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
Stars: Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Brenda Blethyn
Length: 2h 9mins

For those of you not in the know, there are two Pride and Prejudice adaptations that continually get compared to one another. One has Colin Firth in a wet shirt (1995) and one doesn’t (2005). Need I say more?

Yes, I do!

From the movie Austenland (2003).

Too many people completely write-off the Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen version because they are fiercely loyal to Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. I get it, I really do. That 1995 miniseries was my initiation to period dramas and it holds a special place in my heart. I actually have it on DVD…twice.

Yet, I am here to tell you that there are merits to both! Yup, you read that right. I love both of these adaptations for specific reasons and I think you should, too.

(L-R) Lydia, Elizabeth, Jane, Mary, and Kitty Bennet.

If there is one thing the miniseries does that the 2005 movie doesn’t do, it’s follow the book almost to the letter. The six episode takes us from cover to cover. So much so that when people are first getting into Jane Austen and struggling with knowing who is who, I recommend this movie.

To be honest, there isn’t much to be said about this adaptation. It not only closely follows the book, the characters are portrayed exactly like you imagined. There are no mistakes in decorum or etiquette (that I could see, but I’m not an expert). All in all, it’s precisely what a lover of Austen would want in a film adaptation. I suppose it helps that the writer is an Austen fan!

Hey, Andy, do you mind adapating all of Austen’s novels into miniseries? PLEASE?

(L-R) Jane, Mary, Lydia, Elizabeth, and Kitty Bennet.

If you put on the 2005 movie thinking you will get a script just as loyal to the book as the 1995 miniseries, you are going to be disappointed. Keep in mind, it’s only two hours as opposed to six. Though, what they lack in time, they make up for in beautiful cinematography.

Before I continue, please forgive me. I am not a film student, just an English major who loves to see her favourite books on the big or little screen. I am bound to misuse film terminology or make up my own.

Ha — especially since Bingley is a little foolish. Perfect framing!

Believe it or not, I actually took a class in university where we not only read Pride and Prejudice but watched the 2005 adaptation. It was during that class that my perspective of the film completely changed. Before this, I was a die-hard 1995 miniseries loyalist. For that reason, I am going to spend a little more time talking about the merits of that film. It needs a little more love than its popular older sister.

The first thing my professor pointed out to us was how the shots were framed. More often than not, we are looking at the characters living their daily lives through a window or doorframe. It really makes the viewer feel like they are getting a peek inside the lives of the Bennets. We aren’t part of the story, but a bystander. Kind of like the reader. Once my professor pointed it out, I couldn’t unsee it.

Consider the opening of the film — it’s as if we are being invited in. Of course, this is just the beginning. More shots like this continue throughout the movie.

The second thing I want to point out is the picturesque quality of some of these wide shots! Holy cow, they are breathtaking. It may sound cheesy, but it’s like poetry on film. The atmosphere it creates really adds to the romantic quality of the story. And, gasp, no words were spoken!

I mean, look at these:

Now, for the music. The only time we hear music in the miniseries is when the characters are at a ball or when a young lady is being coerced into playing the piano for a crowd. (Let’s all take a moment and thank modern technology that we no longer have to do that! I’d play and sing like Mary for sure.) The soundtrack is beautiful and says more than any dialogue could. In fact, I am listening to it as I write this blog. It’s perfect writing and reading music, if you are looking for some!

Ah, yes! We are at my favourite part. The best thing about the 2005 movie is that is shows us what happens beyond the story. What do I mean? That we get these little scenes that give us a glimpse into the minds of Darcy and Bingley. It is Elizabeth’s story, after all. So, the fact that we get to see how they are reacting to and dealing with the Bennet sisters is such a gem!

Consider these scenes:

That hand flex though!!
I see you looking at her lips! You wanna kiss her, don’t you?!
Subtley touching Jane’s dress because Bingley is already smitten.
I see you two making goo-goo eyes to each other!
Obviously, the goo-goo eyes did Bingley in, because he forget he was dancing.
She may be looking for Wickham, but someone is looking for her.

If you haven’t watching these versions (or one but not the other), please do! That’s your homework courtesy of Bibliomavens. When you’re done, head back here and tell us what your thoughts are!

On the other hand, if you are an Austen nerd like me, please comment below what you think! I would love to discuss it with you.




2 thoughts on “P&P vs. P&P: Which Movie Adaptation is Better?

  1. I have always been the 2005 Pride and Prejudice film fan and always will be. You have pointed out all the things that I love about it, the story, the actors, the shots, the nuances. As I write this my heart races with all the lovely memories I had watching it so many times. Now, the music is something else. Dario Marianelli created a true masterpiece, and the way he incorporated that Henry Purcell piece is just the work of pure brilliance.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s