Putting a face to Mr Darcy
What I really want to do is to comment on some of their screen adaptations, the big and the small. They are only a few of the many adaptations that have been made and not in chronological order but in the order in which I saw them, and warning, these are my own very personal impressions, regardless of their artistic and technical merits. The principal sources to confirm dates and details I have relied on Internet Movie Data Base, but if someone wants to pursue the subject recommend the page of the sisters Almudena and Carmen Romero, a giant and insightful site about Jane Austen in Spanish.
The first thing I saw was the BBC version of 1980, with adaptation by Fay Weldon, and I liked it very much. I found it very true to the original and so similar to what I had in mind, I do not know very well, in my own internal version, what it is imagined and what it is seen in this series. Especially because in those days there was no opportunity to record a video, and to see her again. Recently I've seen it again and I found some surprises. After all, Mrs. Weldon took some liberties with the script (the scene of the letter) and although overall it is what I remembered, it has not kept very well over time. It shows its age and the resources, and Darcy, my Darcy, it seemed far too expressionless and grim and horror, with a stunning wig!
Somewhere between 80 and 95 saw the film version of 1940, the first Hollywood version, starred by Greer Garson (Mrs Miniver) and Laurence Olivier. In Spain, the title was "Stronger than Pride" and, leaving aside the anachronisms of costumes and the sets and a reinvented script, Miss Garson already was 36 years when she was Lizzy and Laurence Olivier smashed, pulverized and crushed Mr. Darcy creating an affected character, mannered and a bit silly. My anger was significant and I've never forgiven, so much so that I always watch his films always with quite prevention.
In 1995 was released in Britain a new version of Pride and Prejudice. The following year was to be July because it was very hot in Madrid, and through a friend the series came, which had been recorded by some relatives who she had in England. All I knew is that Colin Firth worked in the series, a very handsome actor with a beautiful voice that I had seen for the first time in "Another Country". This adaptation is, in my opinion, the best ever, sets and costumes are very well, with a cast that, with some exceptions, (Wickham, Lady Catherine and her daughter, Jane ...) is great. In particular, Firth who plays a wonderful Mr. Darcy and perfectly reflects the character with a perfect balance between pride and despair content of passion and infatuation. Other topics are treated very well like ridiculous servility by Mr. Collins, the laughing envy of the Bingley sisters, especially Caroline and the irritating stupidity of Mrs. Bennet. As for its faithfulness to the novel, it is true that depicts scenes that Austen did not wrote, but complement the story perfectly and serve to give more prominence to Darcy and not only to Elizabeth's story. This version is not only a good period film, some of which the British do so well, but shows wit, sense of humor and the spirit of the novel in an exceptional way. It had a tremendous success and it is to blame for the "Austenmania" we live right now. I love this series and I can see it in one sitting. As proof, here are the famous proposition: Mr. Darcy proposes to Lizzy.
From 2004 comes Bride and Prejudice. It has the same director of "Bending like Beckam" and it puts the plot now and in India. Maybe not for everyone, but I, as well as being janeita, I have a weakness for Bollywood, so I really enjoyed this movie. If this being said, you dare with this music, you have to see the whole thing including the credits, it is worth it.
And finally some trivia: in 1952 the BBC filmed a version of 6 episodes which I had no news until my research for this review and I mention because Mr. Darcy is none other than Peter Cushing, converted later in the Sherlock Holmes vampire slayer by the Hammer. In 1956 American television filmed another version adapted by Hellene Hanff, the writer of 84 Charing Cross Road. From 1957, there is an italian version with Virna Lisi. And from 1966, a Spanish one that TVE in its show Novela with Tina Sainz and Víctor Valverde, but not in the biggest roles. About this and much more about Spanish translations and versions of Jane Austen you have the article "A la Señorita Austen: Una visión general de las adaptaciones españolas" by Mari Carmen Romero Sánchez. I haven't seen it, but in Complutense's Library, you can find another adaptation "Pride and Prejudice: the film" in a United States College. And finally, I will mention the 2001 film Bridget Jones's Diary based in the famous book by Helen Fielding, and to top it, she wrote it when she saw Colin Firth in the 1995 version.