Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Rated PG. Running time: 2 hours 7 min.
Our ratings: Violence  0; Language 0; Sex/Nudity 2.
Our star rating (1-5): 4.5

A person’s pride will bring humiliation, but one who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.

Proverbs 29:23

Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.

Philippians 2:4-7

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Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet start off on the wrong foot at a ball. (c) 2005 Focus Features

Director Joe Wright and writer Deborah Moggach’s delightful adaptation of Jane Austin’s novel is set in a late 18th century England society that is highly stratified, with almost everyone in the upper classes ranking other families according to income, or “living.” Thus marriage is seen as a business matter, rather than as one of the heart. Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn), concerned for the future of her five daughters, believes that her chief purpose in life now is to arrange for the best possible marriage for each, “best” for her meaning to men of greater income than that of the Bennets’. Fortunately for the independent-minded Elizabeth (Keira Knightley), her mild-mannered father (Donald Sutherland) does not entirely agree, he backing her when she refuses the offer of the Rev. Collins (Tom Hollander), an obsequious oaf with whom she would have been miserable.

Lizzie is also sure that she and the prejudiced Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen) are not suited for each other. At a ball she overhears him making a disparaging remark about her. Of course, even if we have not seen one of the other versions of the novel, we know that after many more misperceptions and missteps, the two will finally discover the true nature of each other, with the Philippians passage providing an especially accurate view of the proud man’s heart.

The film is far livelier than the earlier adaptations. Instead of the staid dances of the classical period, the dancers in this film engage in the lively, vigorous steps similar to the reels and jigs that our ancestors from the British aisles brought to Appalachia. The dancers’ faces are reddened from their exertion when the music stops. The two main lovers also exhibit a bit more passion than the button-upped characters we have seen before, the two actually kissing in the American version.

For Reflection/Discussion

1) How might Lizzie have benefited from the old maxim, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? Have you had a similar experience of prejudging someone, only to find the person very different after a prolonged acquaintanceship?

2) How is Mr. Darcy very much a product of his time in judging people as suitable or unsuitable according to their status in society? Where do you see vestiges of this attitude today?

3) How do many people still see marriage in the way that Mrs. Bennet does, as a financial arrangement? But is the romantic view actually that much better, as most movies would assert? What problems are involved in it in which feelings are valued more than reason and “common sense”?

4) What kind of clergyman does Rev. Collins seem to be? Do you see any of the joy and grace of Christ in him? Seems to have escaped any touch of the Wesleyan/Whitfield revivals, doesn’t he? How is he like his patroness Lady Catherine De Bourg (Judi Dench)?

5) What meaning do you see in the title of the book and film?