There are two scenes in the 1995 BBC production of “Pride and Prejudice” that have always captured my imagination. Neither scene appears in Jane Austen’s original novel, or in any other movie or TV adaptation. They’re very short transition scenes that occur back-to-back late in the film.
Both scenes take place at Pemberley. Elizabeth Bennet and the Gardiners have spent the evening with the Darcys and the Bingleys, during which Darcy and Elizabeth share That Look.
After Elizabeth and the Gardiners return to their lodgings at the inn at Lambton and everyone at Pemberley has gone to bed, Darcy cannot sleep. Restless, he walks the halls of Pemberley with a candlestick in his hand.
In the drawing-room he pauses to think back to the moment he and Elizabeth shared That Look. You can click the play button to view the scene:
In the last seconds of the scene you can see Darcy’s expression subtly change from one of pleasure at the memory . . .
. . . to determination.
It’s a small change, but I have a romantic streak in in me that makes me read a lot into those few seconds of film. In his expression I see reesolution; he’s a man with a plan to woo and win the woman he loves.
The next scene is also brief. It’s the following morning, and Darcy is getting ready to call on Elizabeth at the inn. Darcy selects the clothes he’ll wear, determined to look his best when he sees Elizabeth again. His valet tries to straighten his cravat, but Darcy stops him, impatient to be on his way.
Of course, when he arrives at the inn and sees Elizabeth, nothing goes right. Elizabeth is in no mood to be courted because she just received news about Lydia’s elopement with Wickham. Instead, Darcy departs without having a chance to put into action whatever plan he came up with the night before.
Even though I know those two short scenes were not in Jane Austen’s original novel, I think they add depth to the character of Mr. Darcy in the film. And I sometimes wonder as I watch this version of P&P what would have happened if Darcy’s plan had not been thwarted by the arrival of Lydia’s letter? Did he intend to invite Elizabeth and the Gardiners to dine again at Pemberley? Did he hope to contrive some way of spending time alone with Elizabeth? What would he have done next in his plan to woo Elizabeth Bennet?
Films adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels all take some license by adding small scenes that never appeared in Jane Austen’s books. Those scenes help tell the story and give small insights into the characters. Think of Edward Ferrars chopping wood in “Sense and Sensibility” (2008), or Mr. Knightley imploring “Try not to kill my dogs” in the archery scene in “Emma” (1996). And then there’s that gorgeous scene with Elizabeth Bennet standing alone atop a rocky peak in the 2005 version of “Pride and Prejudice.”
Do you have a favorite scene in a Jane Austen movie adaptation that wasn’t in the original novel? Please share it with us!