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Tuesday, October 2

Pride and Prejudice 1940

Yes the costumes are crappy, the plot is all wrong, Elizabeth is too old, Darcy too morose, and the ending has been rewritten, BUT THIS IS Pride & Prejudice. If you are a Jane fan, you should see this movie just because ...
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Movie Trivia: Actress Maureen O'Sullivan played Jane Bennett in this movie. This is one of the few instances in which the actress cast as Jane is prettier than the actress cast as Elizabeth. Maureen's other claims to fame are that she played a scantily clad Jane in Tarzan movies and in real life gave birth to Mia Farrow.

Laurence Olivier played Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights at the same time his future wife Vivien Leigh played Scarlett in "Gone With the Wind." A year later, he played two more romantic leads: Maxim de Winter in Rebecca and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.


Hermione Granger said...

i do agree.the 1940 garson-olivier vers is still the best to was the closest vers to the then 1813 novel.i mean u compare 1940 to 1813 and 2005 to 1813?
i also think despite greer being too old,she had the poise and elegance tht was needed 4 lizzie bennet. darcy is not morose,he's just stuck up and dull at d start.i love him at d ending.i watched this movie close to 150 times...gosh..i memorized all d dialogue too!

Anonymous said...

I find it too glamorized in this one. I agree the costumes are quite wrong it seemed as if they brought some designers from the haute couture department. I thought the BBC 95' version is closest to Jane Austen's world and it looks more Regent too.

Juanita's Journal said...

I found nothing wrong with the costumes.

The 1940 version of “PRIDE AND PREJUDICE” is obviously set during the 1830s and were designed by Adrian and Gile Steele. They did a marvelous job. And there was no law that "P&P" had to be set during the Regency era.

Juanita's Journal said...

"PRIDE AND PREJUDICE" was written in the late 1790s. Jane Austen did a little tweaking with the plot before it was finally published in 1813.

Technically, it is a story of the 1790s. Which means that the Regency costumes of the 1980 and 1995 versions are just as erroneous as the 1830s costumes of the 1940 version.

Vic said...

Juanita, Film makers make their choices for many reasons and costumes are part of that equation. I frankly began liking movies more when they were filmed on location (away from studios) and used authentic backdrops and costumes. So, that is where I am coming from. I would rather watch Fellini's Romeo and Juliet than Baz Luhrmann's modern take on the classic. It's a personal preference. It's my blog.

Jane Austen did not do a little tweaking on Pride and Prejudice. It was much reduced in length when she changed First Impressions to P&P. She was a perfectionist, and when she finally revised the novel she was over 15 years older, had moved many times with her family in the quest for affordable housing, and had lost her father. She had rejected a proposal from Harris Bigg-Wither over a decade earlier and had become a confirmed spinster. One can safely speculate that this mature woman definitely made many changes to a novel that had been written by her younger, more naive self.

Jane was a perfectionist. When Susan (renamed Northanger Abbey) languished on a publisher's shelves for 10 years before her brother Henry was able to purchase it back for Jane, she reworked the manuscript to update the information. So much time had passed and her contemporary novel seemed so old-fashioned, especially with its satiric view on the Gothic novels which had once been popular, that Jane had to update many passages. Alas, Jane was dissatisfied with her reworking of Susan and shelved the manuscript. Her family had the book published posthumously as Northanger Abbey.

What I am trying to get at is this: Jane would have updated information in Pride and Prejudice from First Impressions to reflect the years in which she rewrote her novel. This is evident in the home militia being stationed in Meryton and then moved to Brighton. Such maneuvers to the shores of Britain opposite France were common during the Napoleonic Wars.

Would she have approved of an 1830s wardrobe being imposed on a novel that was published in 1813 during a time of warfare? I doubt it. (I do agree that the costumes mimic the 1830s, as I have had occasion to study those clothes and change my mind.)

Had the film makers chosen costumes from the late 1790s, they would have achieved the billowing effect that actress Maureen O'Hara spoke about in regard to the costumer's decision to reject the slim columnar Regency silhouette in favor of a romantic dress with sweeping skirts and multiple petticoats.

Yes, Jane wrote the first iteration of First Impressions in the late 1790s (by 1797, her father had proposed the book to a publisher), but she was a realist and a perfectionist. I think she would not have approved of the fashion changes, although, being a practical person, she would have realized that once a film studio purchased the rights to film your book, an author has very little say over creative decisions.

Along a similar vein, the costumes in Northanger Abbey 1987 are designed to resemble clothing in the late 18th century. The actresses in the 2007 version of Northanger Abbey wear clothes from the early 19th century. One film chose to depict a time when Jane wrote the first version of Susan, the other film chose costumes set in the early Regency era, when Jane revised her novel and then set it aside.