Wednesday, March 01, 2006

So... sleepy. Must... stay... awake.

I'm a fan of period films be they plain kind, epic, biographical, adventures, tragedies with the occasional sprinkling of romantic stories thrown in for good measure. There's something about bygone eras that make people like me wax romantic about the innocence of it all. The movie Pride and Prejudice which I watched just now with my parents is a prime example of the last classification (often called "chick flicks") that's good. More of the great kind actually.

Blame it on Keira Knightley for being such an adorable bait that lured me to watching it. Actually I've been a fan of hers ever since I first saw her snow white chompers in Pirates of the Carribean. She turned in an awesome piece of acting as did Rosamund Pike (who played her eldest sister, Jane), Jena Malone (the youngest Bennet, Lydia) and Donald Sutherland (as the unaffected elder Bennet). I haven't seen the 1995 version of P & P which fans of Jane Austen swear by. But I don't think I need to as that old fogey would invariably be compared to this fresher take of a literary classic. Keira never fails to light up the scene with her presence as the feisty Elizabeth. Plus her on screen chemistry with Matthew Macfadyen's Mr. Darcy was undeniable. Other plusses in the film include superb cinematography by Roman Oshin and awesome screenplay by Deborah Moggach and Emma Thompson. I couldn't follow what's being said half of the time but that didn't stop me from drinking in the beautiful string of words generously pouring out of the protagonists' lips:
Mr. Darcy: So this is your opinion of me? Thank you for explaining to fully. Perhaps these offences might have be overlooked had not your pride-
Elizabeth Bennet: My pride?
Mr. Darcy: -been hurt by my honesty in admitting scruples about our relationship. Did you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your circumstances?
Elizabeth Bennet: And those are the words of a gentleman. From the first moment I met you, your arrogance and conceit, your selfish disdain for the feelings of others made me realize that you were the last man in the world I could ever be prevailed upon to marry.
[they look at each other for a long time as though about to kiss]
Mr. Darcy: Forgive me.
Of course I haven't read the book so what I previously thought to be something close to Shakespearean-language (which were such alien as to bore me completely) turns out to be something akin to old Tagalog movies from the 50s and 60s. This was part of their charm and appeal that makes them worlds away from the present crop of films. Also there were a couple of parts from the movie that were funny but wasn't apparent to me at the time because of a lot of deep english words. These elicited a laugh and a giggle or two from some folks in the audience who were obviously familiar with the written word. I got some transcripts online that finally made me understand what the fuss was all about. Like this scene where a parson by the name of Mr. Collins (Tom Hollander) came knocking on the Bennet's household looking for a wife (or rather, he was forced to by his aunt, an aging countess, or lose his inheritance). While he initially took a liking to the eldest daugther, he was deterred from asking her hand because she was engaged to another so his attention was focused on Elizabeth. She initially didn't know what was going on in this scene and she obviously didn't like him very much:
Mr. Bennet: How happy for you, Mr. Collins, to possess a talent for flattering with such... delicacy.
Elizabeth Bennet: Do these pleasing attentions proceed from the impulse of the moment, or are they the result of previous study?
Mr. Collins: They arise chiefly from what is passing of the time. And though I do sometimes amuse myself with arranging such little elegant compliments, I always wish to give them as unstudied an air as possible.
Elizabeth Bennet: Oh, believe me, no one would suspect your manners to be rehearsed.
When she was clued in to Mr. Collins' intentions she protested and ran away from the house. Her mother shouted after her insisting that she consent to his proposal. She finally dragged her husband and insisted that he talk some sense into his daughter. Although he'd also like to see her settled down with a husband, it was far more sensible for him to see her happy with the situation:
Mrs. Bennet: Has no one any consideration for my nerves?
Mr. Bennet: I have every consideration for your nerves, my dear, as they've been my constant companion for the last twenty years.
Do you still want more? This next scene some weeks or months after the last one. Mr. Collins has proposed marriage to Elizabeth's best friend, Charlotte Lucas (Claudie Blakley) and has invited her to come over and stay at their house for a visit. On the day she arrived, her husband's aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourg (Judy Dench) came over for a visit:
Mr. Collins: Charlotte, come here!
Charlotte Lucas: Has the pig escaped again?
[looks out window]
Charlotte Lucas: Oh. It's Lady Catherine.
Overall it was a fun movie and something I wouldn't mind watching again on the big screen if somebody would extend an invitation. I honestly came in the theater expecting to be bored out of my wits but came out blown out of my mind. With it I finally understood why this film is among those worthy enough to be nominated in the upcoming Academy Awards. I just wish that this was also included in the Best Cinematography category.

* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.

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