At the risk of incurring the wrath of some die-hard fans, I’m pitting the 1995 and 2005 versions of Pride and Prejudice against each other in this edition of the VS series!
If you’d like to check out my other VS posts, click here.
To begin, we need to acknowledge that while both of these versions of Pride and Prejudice are technically in the film medium, the 1995 version is a mini series and the 2005 version is a feature-length film, which will absolutely affect how they tackle the story.
Let’s start with the 1995 mini series. Featuring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth as Elizabeth and Darcy, this is a six-episode series that stays very true to Austen’s original novel. Because the series has the advantage of more screen time, just about every conversation that occurs in the novel is depicted here, too. This is THRILLING for a lover of the book. It is a classic BBC work, taking care in its historical accuracy in all aspects of Regency era life – clothes, events, manners, etc. The mini series has an honest quality to it, with so much care being taken in being true to the period and the novel. Charming, beautiful, tidy, and thoroughly pleasant are words I would use to describe this version.
The 2005 film stars Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen and is a little more fast-paced than its predecessor. This film plays with style in a way unlike many Regency-era films. There is more dramatic flair in the depiction of Elizabeth and Darcy’s scenes, a tendency towards the comical and almost childish in the Bennett family scenes, and a sense of whimsy throughout the film. This 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice is a little more down-to-earth than the 1995 version, a little more gritty (as gritty as Jane Austen can get), and a little more relatable. More artistic liberty is taken with this adaptation of the novel and it yields a very fun and stylized film.
Both of these versions of Pride and Prejudice are great. I watch both for different reasons: 1995 for simply having more to watch (mini series vs movie), and being transported into that classic British historical fiction world of large houses, beautiful balls, and passive aggressive arguments; and 2005 for a more whimsical take on that same British historicalism so many of us have come to love, plus I adore the dance scene in that movie – I even did a presentation on it for my English degree!
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If I had to choose a favourite, I’m team 1995. I KNOW there are people out there who agree with me! Let me hear you!
Are you team 1995 or 2005?