Laura Haley-McNeil

2/5/17, Details

Hello, Everyone!

The weeks slip by and here we are in February. I hope you managed to stay warm and cozy in January despite the brutal weather. Fireplaces and good books help me through this month, though I do like the snow and managed to fit in one day of skiing. In my part of the world, February comes with the promise of warmer weather. It’s a good month for Valentine’s Day and thinking of the one I love. How clever that Valentine’s Day is the middle of February. The warm thoughts of love help me through this chilly month.

Another one of my favorite winter pastimes is watching movies on my laptop. I recently signed up for a video streaming service and was thrilled to learn that information about the movie was on the screen. I just hovered the cursor over the left hand side of the screen and a column appeared that listed the actors in the scene, their bios and other information about the filming, location, scriptwriting, etc. That thrilled me because when I watch a movie, I also have the Wikipedia page open to learn more about the movie and the actors. I had thought I was alone in my curiosity about the details of the a movie I was watching, but apparently this is prevalent.

The movie I watched was the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice. I listen to a podcast called The Story Grid hosted by Shawn Coyne and Tim Grahl and I receive weekly emails from Steve Pressfield. They reference this novel frequently because it is the epitome of the romance genre. They mention scenes that I had never noticed. I’ve read the book and own the audio version, which I love, but never realized how clever Jane Austen was in developing the characters of Elizabeth and Darcy and the plot in general. Each character is very unique. These podcasts and emails have excellent information on writing in general, but occasionally they discuss Pride and Prejudice and reveal some very interesting analysis.

If you haven’t watched this version of Pride and Prejudice or if it’s been ages since you’ve seen it, you have to watch it. It’s available on Netflix and Amazon Prime and probably other venues.

The first thing that struck me is that Donald Sutherland is cast as Mr. Bennet, Elizabeth’s father. At first I thought this was a miscast. I haven’t seen too many of his movies, but he’s the last person that should portray Mr. Bennet. I was wrong. He was perfect as Mr. Bennet. The scenes in which he is with Mrs. Bennet are delightfully portrayed as he understands she is his wife and he must tolerate her mission to find wealthy husbands for their daughters. As this novel was written in the early 1800s, there was no other prospect for a woman except to marry and Mrs. Bennet is determined to fulfill this mission. The continual discussion of title and annual income seems humorous, but when a livelihood is totally dependent upon that, its importance moves to the forefront.

There are three scenes that stand out in my mind. These are minor scenes and could’ve been eliminated, but to me they were poignant. The first was a scene between Elizabeth and her friend Charlotte who informs Elizabeth she has accepted the marriage proposal from William Collins, the suitor Elizabeth rejected. Elizabeth is appalled. Mr. Collins is not acceptable. Charlotte’s explanation seems more 21st century than 19th century, but it’s revelation is clear – Charlotte is past the prime marriageable age and must except this offer – she will never receive another. Elizabeth is aghast that Charlotte would consider the proposal, but because of a woman’s position in that society, tries to understand why Charlotte agrees to marry Mr. Collins.

Elizabeth’s sister, Jane, is pursued by Charles Bingley who is handsome, from a respectable family and will receive a comfortable inheritance. He is captivated by Jane and everyone knows he will propose. Instead, he disappears and there is no further contact between him and Jane. Through a series of events, Charles realizes his error. He discusses this with Darcy. In this scene, they stand on the bank of a lake. Charles paces back and forth while Darcy stands still and listens. Charles is completely at a loss as to how he will win back Jane, and he practices his speech on Darcy. The actor portraying Charles is brilliant. He is acutally weak kneed. He takes a few steps, his knees bend, his back bows so that you know he will faint or at least collapse, but the actor invigorates himself and continues the monologue of his dilemma and how he will solve it. I don’t know if this scene is on but if you can find it, watch it. It’s touching and makes the character very sympathetic.

Because of Darcy’s arrogance, Elizabeth refuses his marriage proposal and will have nothing to do with him until she receives his letter explaining how he salvaged her sister’s reputation. Elizabeth is overwhelmed with what this man whom she loathes did for her family. In this scene, Elizabeth is beyond words and floats through the house trying to comprehend what Darcy has done for her family. It’s a scene you’ll have to watch more than once to capture Elizabeth’s reaction as well as those of her family who don’t yet know the contents of the letter.

I am not an ardent Jane Austen fan so perhaps some of you can shed light on these scenes. I understand that the script didn’t follow the novel with setting, time period and dialogue, but the movie is entertaining and if you have a chance to watch it, I hope you’ll be as captivated with the entire movie as I was.

I hope you have a wonderful week and can enjoy some nice moments outside as we begin our winter thaw.



Photo: Jane Austen’s World –