Click here to enter my other blog: Jane Austen's World.

Sunday, July 12

Jane Austen Movie Throwdown

Poll of the week: Who is your favorite cinematic Elizabeth Bennet? I am including three choices this week, because each actress has given widely different interpretations of the role. She is also a product of her time, so that in 1939 Hollywood thought it was perfectly acceptable for a 30-something actress like Greer Garson to play Elizabeth in Civil War era garb. For these reasons, I am not including her in the mix. Plus, I can never forgive the producers for changing the ending and turning Lady Catherine de Bourgh into a nice person.

Favorite Elizabeth Bennet

Elizabeth Garvey, 1980 Pride and Prejudice

Ms. Garvey was for a long time my favorite Lizzy. A pretty and talented actress, her interpretation of a lady like Lizzy was wonderfully natural compared to the other 1980's BBC adaptations of Jane Austen's novels. When I think of her portrayal of Pride and Prejudice's famous heroine, I fondly recall her sparring conversations with Lady Catherine de Bourgh. There was fire in this Lizzy's eyes. Elizabeth, who is aging remarkably well, will be present at JASNA's annual meeting in Philadelphia. Lucky us.

Jennifer Ehle, 1995 Pride and Prejudice

A pretty and healthy looking Lizzy with the striking eyes so admired by her dashing Mr. Darcy, Jennifer was present in almost every scene of this 6-hour adaptation. One of Jennifer's more memorable scenes is when she is standing at the piano with Georgianna Darcy, who is playing. She and Colin Firth share a look that so perfectly captures their changing feelings for each other, that I very often use an image from that scene to represent her character.

Keira Knightley, 2005 Pride and Prejudice

A major film star today, Keira was just beginning to make her mark as an actress when she took on the role of Lizzy. Her interpretation of Lizzy is as a feisty and tomboyish young woman who prefers to dress in plain clothes. The rain scene, in which Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy proposes was made memorable by the crackling chemistry between the two actors. Even as her Lizzy is repelled by the way Mr. Darcy chose to propose to her, she is sexually atracted to him. free polls
Favorite Elizabeth Bennet
Elizabeth Garvey Jennifer Ehle Keira Knightley


Lynn said...

Jennifer Ehle is who I visualize and hear as Lizzy when I read the book, so she's my choice...although, she has the advantage of being in a lengthy miniseries compared with the others, therefore was able to do more with the character besides romping around and brooding !

I agree with you on leaving out the Greer Garson burned me up too when they made Lady Catherine a good guy at the end !

nigel said...

Pheww! Tough call.

But I too will have to go with Jennifer Ehle and I have to agree with Lynne it was the length of the mini series, which perhaps endears me to Ehle's characterisation.

Sorry didn't vote this time because the question was so difficult.

xo.sorcha.ox said...

Jennifer Ehle, because I immensely dislike Keira Knightley, and I've not seen the 1980s version with Elizabeth Garvey.
I also enjoyed the BBC Series starring Jennifer Ehle; the length of it really gets you attached to the characters and the people playing them. :)

Lorraine said...

Definitely Elizabeth Garvie! Maybe it is because I saw it first but Garvie and Rintoul are MY Lizzie and Darcy. Garvie has this "quality" that is entrancing. Kudos to Ehle but that wig was too distracting.

JaneGS said...

What? No Greer Garson? I actually liked her quite a bit as Elizabeth--it was the script that wasn't true to Austen, not Garson.

I voted for Garvie out of sentimental reasons though as I watched my VHS of the BBC production more times than I can count when I was on 11 weeks of bed rest in the early 90's (i.e., in the B.C.F. era--before Colin Firth).

Keira Knightley will never be Elizabeth Bennet for me. Didn't like the movie, didn't like her portrayal of Elizabeth.

fellow-ette said...

Ehle, Ehle, Ehle all the way!

Vic said...

JaneGS: No, I did not include Greer Garson. So sorry. When I was a child I liked her Elizabeth, but as I grew to be Elizabeth Bennet's age, Greer's performance became irksome. She was simply too old for the part and came across more as a flirtatious matron than a 19-20 year old girl. A review on IMDB states that "Greer Garson is fabulous as Elizabeth even if she doesn't fit my idea of Elizabeth." That just about sums it up.

Plus I cannot forgive the film's totally wrong beginning (in a modiste's shoppe, with the girls and Mrs. Bennet watching the arrival of Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy) and that blasphemous ending with Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy waiting like a puppy dog for Lady Catherine de Bourgh's permission to reapproach Elizabeth.

The movie is dated and more a figment of Aldous Huxley's and Helen Jerome's imagination (how DARE these writers tinker with Jane's perfect plot?). I also fault the director and the producer. Having said that, Mary Boland as Mrs. Bennet, Edna Mae Oliver as Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and Edmund Gwenn as Mr. Bennet were magnificent.

We could have a long debate about this topic for, yes, I am aware that this film has always been highly regarded in the pantheon of 1939-1940's classics. For its era it was fine. But as far as I am concerned (and I may be in the minority), this film has not held up over time. Sorry, Carrie Fisher. On a discussion about the film on Turner Classics she said she did not think that the 1995 6-hour A&E adaptation stood up to this 1940 classic. Huh?


JaneGS said...

>Mary Boland as Mrs. Bennet, Edna Mae Oliver as Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and Edmund Gwenn as Mr. Bennet were magnificent.

Totally agree--no other Mrs. Bennet comes close, imo

Tez said...

#1: Ehle. #2: Garvie. #14785445674: Knightley.

Lynn said...

I totally agree with Vic's comments.

Carrie Fisher is no authority on movies at all. She just thinks she is !