Top 10 Goofs in Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Top 10 Goofs in Pride and Prejudice (1995)

The dictionary definition of “goof” includes multiple meanings, so I’ll start by clarifying that today’s list is not a compilation of “foolish or stupid persons” although that would be a ridiculously fun post to compose with such fodder as Mr. Collins, Mrs. Bennet, and Lydia to claim the top 3 spots. Ah, but I digress. Today is all about the mistakes and little blunders in this television series. It’s been 22 years since it first aired. The first twenty or so times I watched it on DVD, (oops–did I just admit to obsessively watching it?) I was so enamored that I did not detect anything amiss. Eventually, however, my eyes strayed from Elizabeth and Darcy long enough to begin to notice those little glitches that creep into every production. Perfection is elusive. Andrew Davies came close, but, well, mistakes happen. Although I’m certain that similar lists are out there, I avoided the temptation of borrowing other people’s work by forcing myself to watch the entire series again. Sometimes you just have to take one for the team. Starting with number ten, here they are:

10. The Demotion. You would expect the housekeeper to get it right, but Mrs. Reynolds refers to her former mistress as “Mrs. Darcy” in this scene. This would be the equivalent of calling her sister, “Mrs. de Bourgh.” As daughters of an earl, they are both entitled to retain the title of “Lady,” so the reference should have been to “Lady Anne,” or “Lady Anne Darcy.”

“That’s where Mrs. Darcy used to write her letters every morning. It was her favorite room.”

9. The Insulting Invitation. This error is one that I didn’t even understand until I did the research for a previous post,  In the book, the insult is bad enough:

“Oh! your father of course may spare you, if your mother can. — Daughters are never of so much consequence to a father. And if you will stay another month complete, it will be in my power to take one of you as far as London, for I am going there early in June, for a week; and as Dawson does not object to the Barouche box, there will be very good room for one of you — and indeed, if the weather should happen to be cool, I should not object to taking you both, as you are neither of you large.”

In the 1995 adaptation, however, it is not the servant Dawson who would be relegated to the Barouche box seat next to the driver, but Elizabeth. Lady Catherine has the audacity to make it sound like a generous and enticing offer. The wording makes me think it was an error of understanding by the screenwriter – Lady Catherine says “in the Barouche box” not “on the Barouche box:”

“If you will stay another month complete, it will be in my power to take you as far as London myself, in the Barouche Box.”

8. Déjà vu. There is a scene when Elizabeth is going into the inn at Lambton when Hannah leans out the window to speak to Elizabeth. While Elizabeth is conversing with her, a dapple gray horse walks behind her, followed by a brown horse. Then the brown horse walks past her again. Is there a glitch in the Matrix?

The hazards of splicing multiple takes together

7. Failing Memory. This error is actually the first one I ever noticed. In an attempt to smear Elizabeth to Darcy, trash-talking Caroline Bingley says:

“I remember, when we first knew her in Hertfordshire, how amazed we all were to find that she was a reputed beauty; and I particularly recollect your saying one night, after they had been dining at Netherfield, ‘She a beauty! I should as soon call her mother a wit.’ But afterwards she seemed to improve on you, and I believe you thought her rather pretty at one time.”

Caroline disses Elizabeth, entertaining Mrs. Hurst, boring Mr. Hurst and goading Darcy.

Whenever that scene plays, a little voice in the back of my head reminds me that the referenced conversation was in a scene placed the morning after the Assembly Ball. The quote is actually word-for-word the way Austen wrote it. Unfortunately, the screenwriter, Andrew Davies, seems to have forgotten the nuances of the adapted timeline.

6. The Psychic Servant. After the famous “pond scene,” a sopping wet Darcy hands off his horse to a stable boy who has conveniently appeared. His appearance defies explanation. The pond was presumably secluded and private, and since he was early, they weren’t on the lookout for him. If he had been making enough noise to attract the attention of the stables, Elizabeth would have heard him too. Since this was a scene invented by Davies, there isn’t even an Austen reference to go to. I have some ideas on how it could have happened, but at this point, I’m going with a psychic servant, or possibly the stable boy was hanging out in the woods and just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Just like Elizabeth.

How did the stable boy get there?

5. Paranoid Recall. There is a scene where Elizabeth has a conversation with Mr. Wickham. In that conversation, he says “There is one lady I will be loath to part from.” Lydia is talking to Mrs. Forster and laughing, but she is not paying attention to Wickham at all. Wickham is clearly speaking about Elizabeth, and at no point in the conversation is he distracted to look over his shoulder. Later, when Elizabeth recalls Wickham saying that line, she remembers him glancing over his shoulder and Lydia giving him a meaningful and flirtatious look, changing the meaning of what he said to imply that it was Lydia he was speaking of, and that his actions were premeditated. It wouldn’t have been difficult to film the earlier scene with Wickham glancing over his shoulder at the sound of Lydia laughing, which would at least reduce the sense that Lizzy has become paranoid.

What really happened vs How Lizzy remembers it.

4. The Ghost of Hunsford Parsonage. After Darcy’s disastrous proposal the night before, Elizabeth is in no mood to eat. As she is walking away, it is clear that no-one has a cup to their lips, and all parties are in the frame. Oddly, a rather slurpy sip is clearly taken by someone. My theory is either a Hunsford has a ghost or Lady Catherine’s spies are everywhere.

As Elizabeth walks away, a distinct sound of someone noisily sipping tea is heard.

3. Smoke and Mirrors. It only happens a few times at the beginning of the dance between Elizabeth and Darcy at the Netherfield Ball, but there is a bank of electric lights that can be seen reflected in the mirror, near the clock. They are distinctly different than reflections of the candles that you see in other shots. It is subtle enough that I didn’t notice this minor goof until I had watched the film enough times that I was looking at the decor and other characters in the background.

Lights in the mirror. Shocking!

2. Escher’s Staircase. After Darcy’s failed proposal, he returns to Rosings and rushes up the stairs to his chambers. A few moments later, we see him contemplating the letter he is writing to Elizabeth out of the window, which is on the same floor as the doorway. Was the architect related to M.C. Escher?

Impossible Construction, a la M.C. Escher.

1. The Time Warp. A lot can happen in a minute. Anyone who has done the moment of silence knows that 60 seconds can run long, but not this long. Darcy arrives at the parsonage at precisely 6:17. We know this because we can see the clock on the mantle. He proposes at 6:17. He inserts his gigantic foot in his mouth at 6:17. The death of his dreams occurs at 6:17, and he returns to stand by the clock, where we see that in spite of long moments of silence, no time has passed. Not content with the taste of a single foot, he inserts the other while it is still 6:17 with that timepiece as his witness. It is safe to assume that when the door shut behind him, the clock on the mantle still said 6:17. In the end, a non-functioning prop adds an element of comical sci-fi to an otherwise dramatic historical scene.

The Hunsford Proposal

 

There you have it. Had you spotted all of these goofs before? Are there other goofs you’ve noticed that I didn’t include in the list?

 

 

 

55 Responses to Top 10 Goofs in Pride and Prejudice (1995)

  1. Thank you for a fun post, Diana. I’m with Sharon about those who favor the 1995 looking down their noses at the 2005 version. Both movies have good points and not so good points about them. Even with the goofs in both movies, I think they both get the job done. Thanks again, and I love the ‘Time Warp.’ 🙂

    • My take on the two films is that while the 1995 version is the one I initially fell in love with, I find that the 2005 version definitely has it’s charms. When I need a P&P fix, I happily watch the 2005 if that is the amount of time I have to view it. I hope that this list of “goofs” doesn’t come across as criticism, because it’s really more about the enjoyment I’ve had in many hours of viewing – if I hadn’t watched it so many times, I would never have observed or realized these things. It will be fun to see if I can come up with 10 in the 2005 version. It’s shorter and as a feature film, I expect the post production staff was probably larger.

  2. Absolutely amazing!!
    I just rewatched last week but I would have to watch it again soon to follow these goofs that you have presented! Although the only one I realised is the one about the insult from Miss Bingley. So maybe when I watched so many times as you, I will realised all of the goofs you’ve found without looking at your list 😛

    • Any excuse for a re-watch, is a good one, I always say. I think once you’re aware of things, you can never go back to not noticing them. That’s been my experience, anyway. 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  3. Fun Diana! And some of these I have wondered about. Especially the “loath to part from.” I’ve never been able to figure out that one. Funny. I’m sure there are more. Maybe I’ll have to start another list the next time I watch. Thanks, Jen

    • I believe the “loath to part from” scenes may have been deliberate, since they clearly filmed two versions of that line. I consider it a goof because it is out of character for Elizabeth to recall the event so differently than how it actually occurred. In a way, it sort of gaslights the viewers who wonder if they missed something in the earlier scene. With repeated viewings, it has become an irritant and a distraction – if not a goof it’s at least an error in judgement on the part of the screenwriter and/or director. If you find others, I’d love to hear about them. 🙂

  4. Great post! I’ll forgive them #3 because apparently they lost a lot of the footage of the Netherfield Ball because there was something over the lens on one of the cameras, so I think they had to kludge together what they could. Probably not able to afford a do-over for that, haha. My two pet peeves that come out in almost all period dramas are when they use the complete wrong carriages for long-distance travel, and inaccurate teacups and saucers. I don’t know why those bother me the most out of everything, but they do!

    • Very interesting pet peeves – I’m not enough of an expert on carriages and teacups that I could pick up on those. Were there any anachronistic or inappropriate carriages and tea cups in P&P?

  5. Great post! I love this sort of thing! I have never noticed the lights before! I visited Belton House not long after the series was aired and was surprised to find horizontal tears in the fabric on the wall above the bed. Going back over the video I found that it was hidden by a strategically placed candelabrum. However there is a moment when Darcy is at the desk where you can just see them. My most recent visit showed that they have now been repaired!

    • Wow – that’s a pretty cool one to have caught at the filming location and then verifying it in the series afterward. Mental note taken to watch for it on my next viewing! Thanks for sharing that.

    • Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it – thanks for reading and commenting. I always watch for your comments, you know. They are always short and sweet, but you are consistent.

  6. I love watching movies and checking out the clocks in the background. They move or don’t move. I feel sorry for the continuity people.

    • Hmm. I never thought to intentionally watch the clocks in the background, although I did notice on this viewing session that there is a clock in the room where Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth. That’s sort of a fun idea!

  7. These are great. I will look for them when I watch the miniseries again. Another one is when Darcy is fencing she stated. I shall conquer this. No where does Austen have him saying this phrase.

    • You’re right. I think it was all part of the plan to show Darcy as still not being over Elizabeth, and also to emphasize his masculinity. It may not be in the book, but that scene gets me every time.

  8. That flashback to include Lydia always annoyed me too, as did the issue of which level of the house Darcy was on, as did the “time standing still.” The scene with the stable boy is IMNSHO a goof not because he shows up (which seems to annoy viewers) but because Darcy’s clothes are not wet. In fact, in the next scene, while his light linen shirt is soaked enough to be semi-transparent, his heavier breeches are perfectly dry! When I gave the stable boy’s sudden appearance some thought, I imagined that with such a large estate surely there were guard houses at the entrances — and if so, either the stable boy was hanging out with the guards or one of the guards alerted the stable master that Darcy had arrived.

    When I watched the video of participants in P&P1995 reminiscing a couple of years ago, I recall the director (or the writer?) saying that he wanted to make the film more from Darcy’s viewpoint, so of course this altered many of the original scenes. IMNSHO (again!) the version that most closely adhered to the original is the 1980 version with the wonderful Elizabeth Garvie — of course with a few exceptions, like Lizzy’s goofy run from Lambton to Pemberley when she receives Jane’s letter, and of course Jane’s inexplicable black hair!

    And IMNSHO (once again!) the biggest goof of P&P1995 was casting Jennifer Ehle as Lizzy. Ehle looks too old and acts too worldly to play a “not one-and-twenty” maiden believably. Not to mention her bizarre accent; the first time I saw this version I thought she had a speech impediment. I’ve always supposed it was her size-D bust — which attracted Darcy’s attention in several scenes, esp the piano scene at Rosings — that got her the part. (Me-ow!)

    Lady C’s line about the barouche box sent me looking up the various types of carriages in use at that time; I’m guessing that Lady C’s offer to Lizzy to travel via the barouche box may have been an intentional and somewhat inside joke.

    Best thing about P&P1995 is the adorable Anthony Calf as Col Fitzwilliam. Yum!

    This posting was certainly fun to read. It’s interesting to discover what each individual viewer picks up on!

    • Well I may not have noticed most of the errors but I did notice that Darcy took his breeches off before he dived in the pond (sigh!) So that is why they weren’t soaking wet! I may have to watch it again just to make sure. ??
      I will always love the Colin & Matthew versions no matter how many errors people point out although I do enjoy these posts.

      • Actually he did not take off his breeches. I’ve always thought that if he were on his own property and esp if the pond were isolated he would have been skinny dipping. Apparently the director (or writer?) wanted that too, but the BBC would not permit it.

        • Oh my, sorry Janis! I have watched it many many many many times and would have sworn he was just wearing his shirt and his drawers when he dived in. I have this vision of him being all in white. Well I will just have to watch it again now.

          • Oh thank you Diana. I feel better now. Especially as I was picturing his breeches as being darker coloured when in fact they were cream coloured so easily mistaken as drawers (well that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!)
            Whatever he was wearing I thoroughly enjoyed it ?.

    • I have to say, the “guardhouse” idea had not occurred to me, but is a plausible explanation. I commend you for owning so many not so humble opinions, though I may disagree with a few. I love Jennifer Ehle in the role of Lizzy, but I also agree that Elizabeth Garvie completely nailed it. She is a delightful actress to watch. And totally agree on Col Fitzwilliam – “Yum” is right!

      • I had intended to say that my favourite “goof” was that Col Fitzwilliam was portrayed by such a good-looking actor, inasmuch as JA describes him as not handsome.

        • I see your point, but he isn’t classically handsome the way Colin Firth is, at least not to my eye. I always thought that Adrian Lukas was mis-cast because Wickham is supposed to be terribly handsome and I don’t find him very attractive at all. I guess the “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” rule applies. 🙂

  9. I remeber reading somewhere, perhaps in the making of P & P, that the clock staying on 6:17 was deliberate. They filmed the scene may times and in parts and it was too hard to reset the clock every time. The Netherfield Ball scene has a weird moment where Jane nods her head several times at the start of a dance There was a thread on the lens and instead of reshooting, they basically cut and pasted the scene together. Elizabeth is trying to make sense of Lydia’s elopement and she recalls the event of Wickham leaving differently than what really happened. the same thing was done when, after she has told Darcy about Lydia, she thinks of him with a much harsher look on his face than there actually was when she was playing piano.

    • That’s interesting that it was deliberate. It would have made more sense (to me anyway) to choreograph the timing of the the scene and then have a person in charge of keeping the clock in sync – it wouldn’t be hard to rig it up so they could manage it remotely from off-screen. It wouldn’t be such a big deal if he didn’t spend so much of the scene standing right next to the clock though. I noticed the slow-mo head nod the very first time I watched it, but when I learned that one of the cameras had a hair in the lens, making all the footage from that camera unusable, I mentally classified that particular anomaly as creative editing rather than a “goof.” Thanks for bringing these points up. It’s been years since I watched the extraneous interviews and bonus material that talked about some of these.

  10. Lol, that’s pretty funny. I had noticed about half of them, though I’ll certainly be looking for the slurpy sip and the time warp the next time I watch it. The one that got me the most was the failing memory. I noticed it the first time I saw the miniseries, but the writer in me always assumed that as it had been pretty close to 10 months since the event happened for Miss Bingley, she had just mis-remembered it. When I’m writing my own stuff and referencing something that happened previously, I’ll often write it without looking back, as it’s pretty unlikely that a character will remember everything that happened perfectly. But maybe I’m likely giving the writer a little too much credit!

    • You’re right – in real life, people often mis-remember, and that was the explaination I went with when I first noticed this – until I looked it up in the novel and realized that Caroline’s line at Pemberley was spoken verbatim as Austen wrote it. I then–upon reviewing the Meryton Assembly “post mortem” chapters–realized that the referenced comment was not represented in those chapters, since Austen summarized the gist of their conversation with no dialogue. The chapters where Jane and Elizabeth were at Netherfield contained no such conversation either. Davies clearly used the Pemberley statement as a building block for the earlier dialogue at Netherfield that took place after the Assembly Ball, but failed to align it with Caroline’s recollection. It wouldn’t have been hard to change it from “I particularly recollect your saying one night, after they had been dining at Netherfield…” to “I particularly recollect your saying, after that dreadful Assembly ball…”

      And that is why I consider it a “goof.” It was a screenwriting error, an inadvertent “miss.”

  11. This is so funny. I have watched this series more times than I care to count (and the 2005 one as well Sharon 😉 ) and there are only a couple of these that have occurred to me. The first being “paranoid Lizzy” because I always think, um, that didn’t happen. And then the “psychic stable boy” because I’ve always wondered if someone else WAS riding with him that sent the fellow back to the pond, or if he was goofing off and just happened to be in the right place…LOL The “ghostly slurping” one has me giggling and wishing I wasn’t at work and could pop the DVD in. May just be time for a re-watch anyway. I love the little goofs, it makes it all so much more human so to speak.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who had that reaction to Lizzy’s flashback of the conversation with Wickham. It’s too bad that they didn’t include some hint of it in the original scene, as it would be a nice bit of cinematic foreshadowing. It’s always time for a re-watch. If the mood strikes, go for it!

  12. Great catches, I always thought it funny that a stable man appeared out of nowhere too, I did notice that the staircase was there when he looked out the window and would laugh, but the others I did not think about, the box was a light bulb, I thought it was part of the name lol, and I did notice as the other lady above the push button bell. I would love you to point out the misteps in the 2005 version, I know there are many. Thanks for the fun article 🙂

    Julie R

    • I had so much fun putting this list together, I think I’ll plan on doing the 2005 version, and maybe some other popular adaptations of other Austen novels too. Deciding on a topic for a post is half the battle, you know.

  13. This list is great and has several things o it that I have never thought about or noticed. The 1995 mini series was the first version of Pride and Prejudice I saw and it is also my favorite version although the 2005 does have some scenes that I love and I enjoy it a lot as well.

    • If you’re anything like me, you’ll notice them the next time you watch it, but they don’t actually spoil it. 🙂 They are sort of like the little eccentricities of people we love, simply adding to their charm.

      • I will probably end up watching it again soon just for the fun of it and to see if I spot anything else. It has been over a month since I watched it so I am probably about due to watch the 1995 version again.

  14. I haven’t watched the movie for a while, but what always caught my eye was what looked like a doorbell next to the Hunsford door. I think it is when Darcy is leaving after the failed proposal. I remember looking it up at the time, and I don’t think doorbells (with the push button) were around yet.

  15. I’m a bit ashamed to say that I never noticed any of these things. Definitely time for a re-watch to see these moments play out. Thanks for sharing all the mistakes that you found, I am surprised there were this many. I hope you decide to some more of these kind of lists as I really enjoy them.

    • After re-watching the series and taking notes whenever one I’d noticed in the past happened, I had a list of 15, but picked my favorites as my “Top Ten” list.

  16. Lol, great catches Diana. I noticed a few of them myself (Mrs. Darcy, Lydia, a wandering stable boy), but I will still watch it without prejudice. 🙂

  17. Ah great post! Really enjoyed that especially the one about the clock:):) The theme music from The Twilight Zone is going around in my head now.

    • The clock one is particularly funny to me when you recall the scene prior to this one where Charlotte specifically points out the time to Collins. From his reaction, you know that he would never allow a broken or unwound clock to go unattended.

  18. Only 20 times Diana? I am shocked! I have no idea how many times I have watched both that and the 2005 film. Certainly I watch whenever they are on tv and I have a feeling my dvds may be wearing out. However apart from the Lydia and Wickham scene and the handy stable boy I can’t say that I have noticed anything odd and even they didn’t strike me as goofs. I just love both versions, my favourite being whichever I am watching at the time. (Mind you, any one of my family and friends will tell you that I am not the most observant person in the world – in fact far from it!)
    Yesterday I watched the 1940 film for the first time, oh dear, I wonder if whoever wrote the screenplay had ever read the book! I have also seen the earlier tv version with David Rintoul but I didn’t like him as Darcy.
    No I will stick with my two favourites and continue to love them, it’s too hard to try and compare a 6 hour series with a 2 hour film and I love both the actor’s playing Darcy so that’s enough in my book.
    Thank you for this post Diana

  19. I LOVE this post! Primarily, I confess, because for over 10 years all I have heard is how “perfect” the 1995 adaptation is, particularly in comparison to the “horrendous” 2005 version. Why, the 1995 version is touted as divinely inspired and exactly what Ms. Austen had in mind when writing it! Davies is an absolute genius who followed the book to the letter without the minutest deviation or error! Blah blah blah. Don’t get me wrong or start throwing tomatoes. All movies have errors in them, weird mistakes in cinema filming, etc. And, I actually like the 1995 version! But it is satisfying to have someone brave enough to point out the fact that it too is merely just a flawed movie. Bravo, Diana!

      • LOL! No, I would not hate you! Not ever! I know the 2005 has mistakes in it. All movies do, whether adapted from a book or not. I can be critical, although usually such things do not bother me as long as the film is well done over all. Like I said, it is just how arrogant some are in regards to the 1995 while being SO condescending to the 2005 that gets to me. Hence the fun to poke at the former. insert evil laugh Dissing the 2005 is done all the time, though, so I’m not sure a blog on those goofs would be all that unique. LOL!

      • There are some goofs in the 2005, but I also think there were some deliberate deviations from the book and Regency decorum that Joe Wright did to convey the story under a tremendous time constraint. I have not viewed all of the 1995 but have seen the 2005 about a half a dozen times and love it. Though not word for word Austen, Wright got the point of the story across. Now, after reading this post, I’ll make it a point to watch all of the 1995 version. 🙂

        • I have definitely noticed those deviations, and they do seem deliberate. I think they tried to contemporize the story to make it relatable to a modern audience. They definitely struck a chord with a broad audience, so I can’t fault them for it.

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