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Sunday, August 30

Jane Austen Movie Throwdown

Gentle Reader,

Do you recall this passage from Pride and Prejudice, when Elizabeth visits Pemberley with her aunt and uncle? Mrs. Reynolds, the housekeeper, describes her master in a way that is totally counter to Elizabeth's first perception of him. She has since received his proposal, rejected it, and then read his letter, and her feelings towards him are softening, though still mixed. In this scene, she encounters Mr. Darcy's portrait hanging on the wall:

The picture gallery and two or three of the principal bedrooms were all that remained to be shown. In the former were many good paintings, but Elizabeth knew nothing of the art, and from such as had been already visible below, she had willingly turned to look at some drawings of Miss Darcy's in crayons, whose subjects were usually more interesting and also more intelligible. In the gallery there were many family portraits, but they could have little to fix the attention of a stranger. Elizabeth walked on in quest of the only face whose features would be known to her. At last it arrested her and she beheld a striking resemblance of Mr Darcy with such a smile over the face as she remembered to have sometimes seen when he looked at her. She stood several minutes before the picture in earnest contemplation and returned to it again before they quitted the gallery. Mrs Reynolds informed them that it had been taken in his father's lifetime. There was certainly at this moment in Elizabeth's mind a more gentle sensation towards the original than she had ever felt in the height of their acquaintance.

This week we ask you to decide, which image of Mr. Darcy do you think is best? (Please note: the wording has been changed to clarify the question.) The portrait in Pride and Prejudice 1995? Or the bust in the statue gallery in Pride and Prejudice 2005? Below we show both the work of art and Lizzy's reaction to the work.

Best Art Work of Mr. Darcy

Colin Firth Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice 1995, Portrait in oil free polls
Best Art Work of Mr. Darcy
1995 Oil portait 2005 Sculpture bust

Matthew MacFadyen Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice 2005, Sculpture bust


nigel said...


Gentle author your question is too difficult!

If Chatsworth House was Austen's inspiration for Pemberley then historically it would be correct to select the sculpture gallery (smiles).

However personally, Jennifer Ehle had the cutest and in my opinion the most shagable characterisation of Elizabeth Bennet and therefore one would have to go with the painting.

But on relfection my logic appears so flawed, which must be due to the limitations of the male pysche so please may I pass on this occasion!

Heather Carroll said...

Although I love love love the sculpture gallery at Chatsworth er... Pemberley I have to go with the oil just because it is more accurate to the book!

Barbara said...

I think the bust looks more pleasing. The painting is too dark.

Lit and Life said...

Going with the portrait because Austen does say Elizabeth is in a portrait gallery.

Chris said...

The 2005 film had far to many differences from the original Austen for my taste. By the time Elizabeth made it to the statue gallery, I had already decided this version was lovely to look at but low on my list of favorites.

Cassandra said...

As one who has stood at the front of the bust, I must lend my vote that way as he is lovely beyond anything.

Lynn said...

Although the oil painting makes Mr. Darcy a little too portly for my taste, it is still in keeping with the novel. I much prefer the 1995 version and the wonderful Jennifer E. as Elizabeth.

The 2005 version has many wonderful actors and actresses in it but I can't get past my dislike of Keira K. She is such a brat !

Mia Beatriz said...

You give two premises to go with:

1. Which image of Mr. Darcy do you prefer?
2. Best Art Work of Mr. Darcy.

Taking that in consideration, I voted for the bust of the 2005 version. Why? It looks a lot more than the Mr. Darcy of the movie (Matthew Macfadyen) which makes it the Best Art Work based on the model.

While the portrait does not look and does not capture in its entirety the handsomness of the model (Colin Firth). Therefore it can't be the Best Art Work

If -in the other hand- we were to judge the merits of both taking in consideration accuracy based on the book words, then the portrait would be my choice because that's what it is mentioned in the book and it would be more accurate.

Anonymous said...

Here's my take on the matter, and perhaps why Austen chose portrait over sculpture in the first place.

The purpose of the scene is for Lizzy to behold once again the coutenance of the man she turned down but now with a new, gentler perspective of him. As striking as the bust may be it remains a piece of cold marble, perhaps more suited to her initial opinion of Darcy. The oil painting, on the other hand, does much to convey warmth and softer edge that Lizzy is beginning to view him with.

So as much as I enjoy Matthew Macfayden, I have to go with the painting for both accuracy and effect.

Vic said...

Mia Beatriz,

You make an excellent point. I should have asked: Which image of Mr. Darcy do you think is best? By giving mixed signals I nullified the vote.


Mum-me said...

I only read the question as "Which you you prefer." Well, I only saw the 2005 movie once, and once was more than enough. I thought it was poorly done and I very much disliked Keira's portrayal of Lizzie.

I prefer the painting from the 1995 series.

thebookaddict said...

Although I prefer Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, I have to say that the bust is a better portrayal of that Mr. Darcy. Colin Firth is far more handsome...the painting does not do him justice at all!

I have an award for you over at my blog!

JaneGS said...

I've always considered the portrait of Colin Firth as Darcy to be the weakest link in the 1995 version. Much as I am not a fan of the Keira Knight version, the bust wasn't bad. The painting was.

Anonymous said...

Here's another point - neither portrait has a smile worth mentioning!!

Anonymous said...

Personally I prefer the portrait although my judgement may be slightly hindered by my love for the 1995 adaptation.