22 December 1998 | ROCKY-19
It's about time!
After so many years of seeing adaptations of Pride and Prejudice on stage, screen and television, I had long given up hope of an entertaining and faithful adaptation. Then a miracle! Class, style, humor and intelligence is alive and well! Direction, script and cinematography are all exceptional in A&E's production. Imagine watching a six-hour program over and over and over. It has to be done. Jennifer Ehle gives Elisabeth all the archness, tenderness, and homey wit that Austen could desire. Each individual cast member gives a memorable performance that makes the character real. Simon Langton, as director, has a real ear for dialogue and silence. Indeed, it is often the silences in conversation that are the most hilarious. The most serious fault in most previous productions was the casting of Darcy. A stiff actor in a stiff part gives you only a stiff character (even, God bless him, Olivier). If Darcy fails, the entire production is a waste. The inspired casting of Colin Firth in this production was defining. Putting Firth, a naturally lively chap, in the role was like harnessing energy. You can often feel that intensity of containment, which is just perfect for Darcy. This is a must-see for any loyal Austen reader or anyone else who likes romance, wit and social commentary all rolled into one. And pity Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensibility, which opened in the U.S. shortly after Pride and Prejudice debuted. Comparisons were inevitable and did not favor S&S.