Pride and Prejudice

By Jason Wojciechowski on November 28, 2005 at 7:45 PM

It was Thanksgiving weekend, so I had a little more time than I often do. I used this time to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Pride and Prejudice in the theater.

The former felt rushed and crammed with stuff. I haven't read the books, so I can't speak to the things they dropped out and rushed past. Despite that, it was quite clear how crunched the filmmakers felt. Nary a scene was left to just play out in a normal fashion. Rather, everything was in the manner of, "Here's what you need to get from this scene! Next! Here's what you need from this scene! Next!" I shouldn't say "nary," though, because the graveyard scene, the climax, was quite good. It was the one time where the movie just s l o w e d down for a while. The writers and director are really sort of stuck, though, because the books are only getting longer. Austen tells me there's (finally) a new screenwriter for the fifth movie, which could help things get better. In the end, I liked it, but it doesn't crack the list.

What does crack the list is Pride and Prejudice. Talk about taking your time, not hurrying, just letting things unfold ...

Perhaps the best feature of the movie was that it just moved in a straightforward way, letting the story and the characters carry the day. There was no need for fancy cinematography, quirky editing tricks, or bizarre structural innovations here. Austen tells me that Jane Austen has translated quite well to the screen (I haven't seen the other movies that have come from her books).

I'm reminded of Matt and Ben, a little play that Austen's mom sent us to about the writing of Good Will Hunting. The point of the play, which is quite funny and features women playing the titual characters, is that the duo never wrote the script: it fell from the sky. The scene I remember, though, involves the attempt by the pair to adapt Catcher in the Rye for the screen. It basically involved Ben at the computer, typing the dialogue that Matt reads straight from the novel.

My point? Maybe this works if you're adapting Jane Austen.

So, on to the amended Top Ten, with the newly added Pride and Prejudice.

  1. The Constant Gardener
  2. Proof
  3. Kung Fu Hustle
  4. War of the Worlds
  5. Pride and Prejudice
  6. Grizzly Man
  7. Capote
  8. Rize
  9. Bee Season
  10. Mad Hot Ballroom