Pride and Prejudice (1995) Blu-ray Review
In 1995, the BBC adapted Jane Austen’s classic novel, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, into an iconic made for TV miniseries of the same name. For those of you unfamiliar with the tale of the Bennet sisters and their (mother’s) quest to marry well, the sisters endure the ‘prejudice’ between social classes and the ‘pride’ that can get in the way of love. This tale unfolds over a series of six episodes allowing viewers the opportunity to extend their relationship with Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters.
Even though this series came out nineteen years ago, the sets, theatrics, opening credits, and freeze frames that end each episode make it feel more dated and do not share the timeless qualities of the story. Does Jane Austen know how to put together the perfect formula for a quintessential chick flick or what? Despite this miniseries feeling antiquated, one cannot help but get sucked into the saga.
Our lead, Elizabeth Bennet, flourishes under the expert performance of Jennifer Ehle. Her facial expressions and delivery make you think of Meryl Streep (I had to IMDB Ehle to see if she was a relative of the seasoned actress. There is no connection between the two, despite the similarities). Ehle lends Lizzy the right amount of haughty righteousness and vulnerability that makes her relatable. Colin Firth’s adaptation of the abrupt and cool Mr. Darcy is perfect. One cannot help but get excited when the two share the screen together. They have a balanced chemistry that sizzles as the series progresses. Firth is in his element, making me want to watch more films where he is a lead with ample screen time.
Mrs. Bennet’s character, as played by Alison Steadman, was grating. Her performance felt over the top and more suited for the theater stage. Her screeching and flailing arms was more of a distraction to the tale instead of enhancing it. The other supporting characters were better integrated into the telling of this novel. Favorites included Benjamin Whitrow’s Mr. Bennet, Anna Chancellor’s Miss Bingly and Crispin Bonham-Carter’s Mr. Bingly. Bonham-Carter’s enthusiasm and bright smile were the perfect yin to Firth’s reserved yang.
With the series running approximately five and a half hours long, the first few episodes feel long with slow pacing to stretch out the mini-series. However, as the tale progresses it is easy to watch several episodes at once without getting burnt out on the Bennet sisters and their desires to find love and marry. This is especially true of the last episodes where you cannot wait to see more of Ehle and Firth together on screen. My complaint about the ending pacing is it wraps up too quickly. This hasty conclusion felt a bit rushed when compared to the slower pace of the opening episodes.
Despite its flaws, this series is a treat to watch. Call me a hopeless romantic who cannot get enough of a happily ever after love story, this feature is easy to recommend and one I look forward in enjoying when I have the odd five hours to spare.
Audio (English: LPCM 2.0): PRIDE AND PREJUDICE has a nice sound allowing you to hear the important dialogue over the sounds of parties and music.
Video (1.78.1): This television miniseries transfers nicely to blu-ray.
The Definitive PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (21:25): This featurette touches on the history of the novel and the making of this series.
Love or Money? Courtship and Marriage in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (10:01): This featurette reviews the dilemma most of the heroine’s in Austen’s tales face.
The Music of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (9:57): This is a look at Carl Davis, composer of the music for this series.
Lifestyles of the Wealthy in Early 19th Century England (8:38): This looks at the upper classes in England. Very interesting feature.
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: A Turning Point for Period Drama (31:12): This feature includes interviews with the screen writer/adapter Andrew Davies and what made this miniseries so popular 1995.
Featurette: Technical Restoration (5:30): This is a technical look at the remastering process from television to film.
Featurette: Lasting Impressions (59:36): This is a documentary about the production.
An Impromptu Walkabout with Adrian Lukis and Lucy Briers (9:46): The two walk through and visit the locations.
Topics: Blu-ray, Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle, miniseries, Pride and Prejudice, Simon Langton, Susannah Harker