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Tuesday, August 25

Are Pride and Prejudice Movie Adaptations Clouding the Book?

Here’s a great quote from a book review of Pride and Prejudice by Laura MacDonald of Girlebooks.

My overall impression after this time around is that I need to stop watching movie adaptations and read the actual books. I believe I’ve watched the 1995 adaptation so many times that the performances play in my head as I read. This can be good at times–for example, the confrontation scene between Elizabeth and Lady Catherine De Bourgh couldn’t have been enacted better. But there is often room to criticize. While there have been several beautiful and somewhat faithful adaptations of this work, they can never fully represent the three dimensionality of the plot, the characters, their motivations, and their inner struggles that Austen so beautifully constructs.

What do you think readers? When you read Pride and Prejudice, do you visualize one of the movie actors as Mr. Collins, Lady Catherine, Lizzy or Darcy? Have the movie adaptations clouded our perception of the original novel?

To refresh your memory of Jane Austen’s original text, download Girlebooks wonderful ebook edition of Pride and Prejudice for free! Yes – FREE – thank you very much Austen elves at Girlebooks for all that you do to make classic literature available right on our desk tops and ebook readers.

Cheers, Laurel Ann, Austenprose



I usually like to contrast and compare a classic and its adaptations but I usually read the book first. Otherwise I tend to read less carefully. In literature it is always so important HOW not only WHAT is told. And Jane Austen was a master in HOW she told us her stories!

Ruth said...

Oh goodness no, I don't think so...all of the films I've seen and loved (the Olivier version, the 1995 & 2005 versions, even Bride & Prejudice) have only enhanced my enjoyment and appreciation of the novel.

Laura McDonald said...

Hey Laurel Ann--thanks for the link love, as always!

To clarify what I meant which might have gotten lost in the deletion of a couple of adverbs: I do love the adaptations, especially the 1995 one. However I feel that I at least need to read the book as many times as I watch the film (which as not been the case). Otherwise, like Maria said, one tends to read less carefully and think more of how the words were enacted in the film than what the book is actually saying.

Make sense? Just personal preference, of course!

writemeg said...

Personally, I definitely think movie adaptations have clouded my perceptions of the novels, particularly Pride & Prejudice! When I re-read it now, I usually have Keira Knightly's Elizabeth and Matthew Macfadyen's Darcy in my head. I know -- say it isn't so! But it's hard to remove those visuals from my brain.

That being said, I loved the 2005 film... and other adaptations, too. I think the movies enhance my love of the original work and provide a fresh way for me to enjoy the stories all over again!

Emily said...

No, I don't see the actors in my head when I read. Much as I love and enjoy the 1995 BBC series, for example, it's as something separate and different. I experience the books differently.

graspingmara said...

While I don't see specific actors when I reread the novels, I do hear the voice of Colin Firth's Darcy in my head along with Rupert Penry-Jones' Captain Wentworth when reading. Ha! This even happens when I read any of the "sequels." I usually manage not to compare and contrast the books with the film adaptations. I enjoy the films as "stand alone" works. This way I get to savor the actors, costumes and settings without worrying about faithfulness to the novels.

The Editrix said...

Hmm, interesting question. Short answer - usually no. Reading Jane Austen's books, I usually have a fairly distinct picture of each character in my head. Sometimes my visual picture may bear some similarity to the character as portrayed in one of the film adaptations; sometimes not.

With Mr. Darcy for examply - I'd always imagined him as looking somewhat MacFadyen-ish, even before I had ever seen or heard of Matthew MacFadyen or P&P05.

But with Elizabeth, none of the portrayals I've seen embody my picture of Lizzy, though Elizabeth Garvie does come close.

The Editrix said...

Oops - that would be "example", not "examply", LOL!

Lynn said...

Guilty as I read the books now, I do have certain actors in my head: the cast from the 1995 miniseries. But I don't think that's enough external disruption to cloud Jane Austen's novels ever !

Sarah said...

I see Matthew Macfadyen's face, some of his spirit, and some of Collin's spirit too. But mostly, I see the Darcy Jane Austen wrote. :)

Jecca said...

Just wanted to throw in that there is an EXCELLENT free version of P&P as an audiobook in the Itunes store, read by Catherine Byers, who delivers incredibly well. I have listened to it twice in the last year, it is just so good, and she is so very expressive and enjoyable.

And, I definitely do see the movie images in my head every time I read it. It's interesting to read/see the differences. 2005 version is ingrained in my head much more than 1995.