There have been many film adaptations of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, but the 2005 version directed by Joe Wright and staring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen among other notable actors (e.g. Rosamund Pike, Donald Sutherland, and Carey Mulligan) may be the best. The cinematography, like the dialogue, is detailed in its depth and storytelling. The camera captures scenery both broadly and narrowly. Whether shooting in a small room or seeking to capture a rolling landscape, the camera shots provide plenty of beauty and detail to keep the viewer engaged.
The dialogue is rich. The quips and quick-witted conversations can be difficult to keep up with at times, but the words that each character speaks are not spent idly. An overbearing mother, overwhelmed father, and underwhelming minister complement the storytelling with their humor and drama while the main characters fight their battles for love.
This movie has little to give to solving the issue of excessive economic inequality, but it does have something to say about relationships. In a world that approaches romantic relationships much differently based upon the culture that one is born into, it’s refreshing to see a movie that mixes the restraint of some cultures that practice arranged marriages with the openness of other cultures that encourage exploration prior to commitment. In Pride and Prejudice, there is more focus on the intellectual and emotional dynamics rather than the physical affection between the characters. This makes for a movie more concerned with character and kindness and less concerned with the erotic side of love.
This is not to say that the movie neglects the importance of physical love. There are points in the film where the gravity of the absence or presence of touch is aptly displayed. A touch of the hand under the right circumstances, like a well-taken picture or a memorable smell, can communicate a message with more clarity and feeling than a well-written letter. Similarly, the absence of touch under the right circumstances can create more longing than there would be if that touch had been given.
Messages and moments like those make this version of Pride and Prejudice worth more than one viewing. The movie holds within it reminders to be gentle, kind, and considerate. There are lessons in pursuing humility while being wary of first impressions. All-the-while the viewer is treated to melodious scores and well-crafted cinematography. While viewers craving a less conservative love story may be disappointed by the old-English romance, those who appreciate the subtle words and actions that catalyze the beginnings of a committed relationship are likely to enjoy this film.