Art, as I am certain we would all agree, speaks to each of us individually. Though we may have some similar observations or reactions to a particular piece, it is inherently impossible for any two people to experience art in exactly the same way. Things that shout to one person, might whisper to another, or remain silent and hidden to a third. Art is an individual experience, and therefore, when an interpretation of a particular piece is given by another person, it should not be discounted just because it does not agree with the view that we hold.
Art is not confined to a museum wall. It is not revealed only by paint or chisel. It stands before us as a small cottage garden. It towers over us as a structure of steel and glass. It fills a room with melodies that wash over us and vibrate through our being. Art marches in words on a page. It pulls us through a screen and engulfs us in a world that is not our own. Art, in all its forms, surrounds us, captivates us, teaches us, inspires us, and adds great beauty to our lives.
Today, I would like to share a few of my observations on a piece of visual art that is familiar to most lovers of Jane Austen and happens to be my favourite film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice to date — the 2005 version of Miss Austen’s novel. Notice, please, that I did not say it was the best production. I said it was MY favourite. I am not comparing it in any way to any other of the many film or stage productions of Pride and Prejudice. In fact, this is not the only adaptation I enjoy, but it is my favourite, and I would like to begin to explain what it is about this piece of art that speaks to me.
(So do we all have that? This is my favourite. I like others as well. We are not comparing and contrasting. I am just sharing a few observations about this piece of art. Got it? Good. Let’s continue. 🙂 )
I will begin by saying it is not the script that spoke to me — although there are terrific lines in it! Nor is it the music even though the soundtrack is beautiful! It is also not the actors, although there are things about the portrayals by those actors that I have found to be so close to what I imagined when I first read the book many years ago as a young teen. (And if you know me at all, you know I love great characterization! So not commenting on characters is no easy task. 🙂 )
So, if it is not the script or the music or the actors, what does make this production my favourite? Well, it comes down to details. There are a great number of scenes with lovely details that I could highlight, but to keep this post from growing too long, I will limit myself (with great discomfort) to just four examples and a link to a fifth.
A couple of notes: All Pride and Prejudice 2005 pictures in this post have been used with permission from the thousands that can be found on the Facebook Page Devoted Fans of Pride & Prejudice (2005). And the portrait, which is not from the movie, was found on Andrew and Rachel Knowles website, Regency History, and is also used with permission. These interpretations and opinions are mine. I have no idea if the director or producer of the film intended any of these things to speak to me as they did.
Shall we start with a scene that makes many say “Oh, that hair!”?
I think we will. 🙂
This scene shows so clearly that Elizabeth is not like other ladies, and this difference is what, Mr. Darcy? Intriguing, beguiling, tempting, worthy of a long stare and stumbled over words? It seems to be. 🙂 But, I also like Caroline’s comment about Elizabeth’s hair being “positively medieval.” To me, she is pointing out just how backwards and unfit Elizabeth is. Caroline had just been speaking about the redecoration of someone’s room. So, to Caroline, Elizabeth is just so last century in her style. Surely, Mr. Darcy would not want a wife that was out of style? Would he? He must see how unfit she is? Mustn’t he?
Ok, I can’t help poking a bit of fun at Caroline. 🙂
I found a portrait from La Illustrated Belle Assemblee (1844) of Sarah Child Villiers, Countess of Jersey and patroness of Almacks. I grant you the hairstyle is more tamed and less wind blown, but her hair is down and flowing about her shoulders. So perhaps, Miss Bingley that instead of being behind in fashion, Miss Elizabeth might be ahead of the trend?
(By the way, the article at Regency History about Lady Jersey is interesting and definitely worth a read. 😉 )
The next scene that I have selected to highlight is the swing scene. This scene speaks to me of the changes happening at a rather fast pace in Elizabeth’s life. Her world is beginning to spin — and will continue to spin until the end of the story, really.
The third scene I have selected to highlight is the first proposal scene. Yes, I know, it is not at the parsonage, and Col. Fitzwilliam spills the beans in the church and not on walk, but hang on, let me explain what I like about this scene. Art, for me, must connect on a deeper level than just “oh, that is interesting” or “oh, how beautiful.” For me, art must speak to my emotions. This scene is rife with emotions — strong emotions. To me, the torrents of rain represent the emotional upheaval that is storming about our dear couple during that first proposal. These emotions are threatening to drown them. And the ferocity of them leaves them exposed and out of sorts much like being caught in a rain storm might.
Before I get to my fourth selection, let me include a link to a fifth scene. (I know it is out of order numerically, but it falls here if we are following the storyline.) The fifth scene is that scene with the letter where Elizabeth is looking in the mirror. Regina recently had a great article on her blog about how this filmic device of the mirror is used in this movie. It is absolutely worth a read. 🙂
Now, for my fourth and final scene selection, I am choosing the second proposal scene. In this scene, we see both Darcy and Elizabeth dishevelled and unable to sleep. They appear to each other out of the morning mist. These external elements once again speak to me of the emotional state of our dear couple. Without each other, they are undone and wandering in the night and in the fog, but as they come together and reach an understanding, the sun breaks through and a new day dawns — bright with the hope of a happily ever after.
The storm from the previous proposal has stopped. Elizabeth’s world is no longer spinning and unsettled. There is only peace. And she,who had bewitched and beguiled Darcy, is finally his.
That’s it. That is why I love this movie — this work of cinematic art — and count it as my favourite adaptation to date. I know that the screenplay does not follow the novel dot and letter. But, I do believe that it is true to the story whether it is in the snide remarks and haughty nature of Miss Bingley or the ridiculousness of Mr. Collins or the demanding presence of Lady Catherine or in a rainstorm proposal. However, to “hear” the full story, a viewer must take note of the details, and in my opinion, it is in those details where the true beauty of this work of art is found.
I would love to hear your comments about what makes art speak to you, but I feel I must preface it with a little bit of a warning. It is easy when sharing why you like somthing to do so at the expense of something else, such as “I like chocolate icecream because it is not so dreadfully boring as vanilla.” While this might be true for you, it tells me nothing about why you actually find the chocolate icecream to be so lovely and casts the well-loved-by-many vanilla icecream in a poor light. So, keep that in mind when you are replying. I will put on my teacher hat, if necessary, and use it to disallow comments that use comparisons in a negative fashion (such as the one above does about vanilla icecream). 🙂