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?

 

 

 

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

  1. Okay, here’s mine. Am by I wrong? The Gardner’s came to Longbourne for Christmas. For whatever reason, without the children. Jane returned to London with them. When writing her letter to Lizzy, you can see it is dated January 12. She then writes about how she visited the Caroline Bingly three weeks prior. And that Caroline finally showed up there weeks after that. All that is not possible. Three weeks before the 12th of January, they were still at Longbourne! I forget the exact verbage, but I’ve watched (or sometimes just listened) 100+ times. Drives me crazy. I’ve never seen anyone bring this up.

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