ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  joe wright

RATED  -  pg

GENRE  -  drama

LENGTH  -  127 minutes

RELEASED  -  11 november 2005

DISTRIBUTOR  -  universal pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  pride & prejudice

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $28,000,000
pride & prejudice - a shot from the film


buy the soundtrack from pride & prejudice at

buy the soundtrack from pride & prejudice at

five sisters of in early 19th century england must find husbands to ensure their future financial security.

emma thompson did an uncredited and unpaid re-write of the script. she receives a "special thanks" credit at the end of the film.


picture from pride & prejudice

picture from pride & prejudice

picture from pride & prejudice

picture from pride & prejudice

picture from pride & prejudice


three out of four possible stars

Although there is an adherence to certain time-honored elements of Jane Austen's most famous work, such as snippets of dialogue that seem to appear in every retelling of the story, this most recent incarnation of Pride & Prejudice still manages to create some welcome surprises regarding storytelling and filmmaking. There is sufficient homage paid to the source material that Austen fans should not be pleased yet there is also a great deal of creativity in the way the story is told as well. One of the most interesting elements is the cinematography, though director of photography Roman Osin probably found himself in the unenviable position of presenting an era of England's history that has been one of the most frequently portrayed in film.

Rather than make a complete about-face and create visuals the likes of which have never been seen, Osin and production designer Sarah Greenwood have created a very organic look to the film, with unobtrusive yet elegant visuals and camera work. Although the Bennett house is a large, two-story edifice with a good amount of land surrounding it, and the family has enough income to afford servants, the house is not in the greatest condition and less refined elements of English country life are in abundance. Things like wandering farm animals and hanging laundry decorate many of the scenes in what looks like an attempt by filmmakers to portray the Bennett family in more difficult financial circumstances than that in which they've been shown in films before.

And further on that theme, the screenwriter, and perhaps the actors themselves, have fiddled somewhat with the accepted "norms" of a few of these very well known characters. Most notably, Tom Hollander, playing the odd Bennett cousin, "Mr. Collins," creates a character that is more creepy than pompous, making his important scenes with Elizabeth more ominous than humorous (though a bit of humor still remains). Another change in personality seems to be in Brenda Blethyn's portrayal of Mrs. Bennett, the high strung mother of five girls who can think of nothing further than getting her children married.

She is usually a character portrayed with that single match-making focus, but the filmmakers have expanded her psyche somewhat and given her somewhat more of a heart and breadth of emotion than Jane Austen's original text ever afforded her. But these modifications in character shouldn't be viewed as marks against Hollander and Blethyn's performances. On the contrary, both actors are very well cast and bring a fresh perspective on their characters. In other supporting performances, Donald Sutherland is a welcome surprise as the Bennett father, "Mr. Bennett" and though he doesn't have an overabundance of dialogue, his appearance in the film can be counted as one of the most affecting.

In one of her first leading roles, young Keira Knightley, in what might considered a breakout performance, offers up a portrayal of the opinionated Elizabeth Bennett, is a strong force on all fronts, delivering a performance worthy of such a well-known and beloved literary personality. Though the film's focus is not directed solely at her, she can take credit for a commanding performance. Opposite her, as her antagonizing love interest, "Mr. Darcy," Matthew MacFadyen offers a solid though not incredible performance as another one of literature's most well known characters. MacFadyen and Knightley have an appreciable chemistry with one another, which if that element had been missing would certainly have doomed the picture, no matter how impressive the performances.

As in many costume dramas, there is a veritable cast of thousands and while it would probably take far too many bytes to acknowledge every single worthy performance, Judi Dench's appearance as the imposing "Lady Catherine" is worth a mention, as her ability to take a tiny role in any film and make it a memorable one is again displayed in this movie. She doesn't have more than a handful of scenes and yet when the closing credits come around, she has made a strong impression nevertheless. Jena Malone, in the larger role of the youngest Bennett sister, "Lydia," is likewise worth a mention and stretches well her wings as an actress in a role different than any she has played before.

Although it adheres to many of the traditional elements of its very famous story and characters, there is a high level of creativity and risk taking regarding most aspects of the film, with the cinematography and set decoration standing out (though certainly not overpowering the characters) as some of the most intriguing elements. For fans of the traditional Jane Austen, there is much to appreciate in this version of her story and the casting seems well accomplished across the board. As with any famous story, the filmmakers must make a choice whether to honor the original material or take it in a new direction, and although compressing the novel into a short two hour running time is a job in and of itself, director Joe Wright and his cast and crew have managed to honor both the traditional and the innovative. Pride & Prejudice is a well done film on all fronts, nicely paced and beautifully acted.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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