How do I love this mini-series? Let me count the ways. A lot of previous reviewers have mentioned the cinematography, which is indeed masterful. One of my favourite moments would be when Elizabeth is in the coach with her aunt and uncle, approaching Pemberley House, when suddenly it slides into view from behind a tree branch. Every single time I watch that scene I catch my breath and my heart actually skips a beat. When mentioning this particular scene it is also necessary to mention the music, which is beautiful, highly appropriate throughout. The opening piano notes of each episode exemplify Jane Austen's spirit: playful, elegant, engaging. The aforementioned scene uses music to a great advantage: as Pemberley slides into view the music swells to a slight crescendo and immediately washes out onto a plateau like a wave, and is as grand and tasteful as Pemberley House itself.
The costumes are terrific! Class has always been portrayed through clothing, and P&P has used costume to great effect to contrast things like Miss Bingley's obnoxious feathers at a ball to Elizabeth's modest but elegant flowers and beads. Many other reviewers have mentioned that they found it particularly good that there was not a wealth of costumes for certain characters, such as the Bennetts, unlike in other movies, because this is in keeping with their status in the world. I quite agree with this and would like to add that the costumes were exquisitely authentic-looking.
Above all, I love the casting. There is not a soul who was miscast. Even Susannah Harker, who played Jane, was perfect. Yes, some people will not consider her beautiful, but that is because she does not relate to our modern standards of beauty. However, in Jane Austen's time she would have been quite pleasant. Susannah portrays Jane's naiveté, mildness of temper and pure goodness of heart so well that you almost don't feel like putting sugar in your tea. ; ) Mary is fantastic - serious as a sermon and always good for a chuckle. Lydia does complete justice to her character - it's as though she jumped off the page and into the movie! Both Mr and Mrs Bennet are wonderful, each affording more than a couple of good laughs, as they should be. And who can forget the bumbling, ridiculous, mortifying Mr Collins, as whom David Bamber gave an unforgettable performance! It is, however, Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth who steal the show as Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. I congratulate the casting director who managed to find the the most perfect pair of "fine eyes" in Jennifer Ehle - eyes that sparkle with playfulness and a keen wit. Jennifer pours into her performance the vibrancy, intellect and teasing amusement, amongst other things, that we have come to know and love in Elizabeth. Jennifer, like Colin Firth, was born to play this part and I really do not believe anyone can ever really be more of an Elizabeth than this marvellous woman. As for Mr Firth - I again congratulate the casting director for another excellent choice. If anyone else had been chosen for this role, the movie would have suffered. It is, above all, a love story, and everything else - the cinematography, the music, the costumes, etc - are but side dishes to the magnificent feast provided by the two leading actors. In Colin Firth we get another pair of very expressive "fine eyes". ; ) Eyes full of love, tenderness and gratitude during "The Look", full of bitter and wounded pride when his first proposal is refused (especially as he exits Hunsford), full of quivering hope as he awaits Elizabeth's final answer during their walk towards the end of the last episode. This man, this heavenly creature, is one of the greatest actors this earth has known and ever shall know. The difference in his manners from before Elizabeth roundly chastised him and afterwards is very pronounced, even a difference in his expression. Honestly, what more can I say that has not already been said? I am simply in awe of this man and lady.
There are many little things that add to the charm of this mini-series. One of the most important is the timing of certain things - speech, exchange of looks, how long those looks are held. For example, when Elizabeth is leaving Pemberley you see, from Darcy's point-of-view, the back of the carriage and you just wish she would turn to look back - and she does! Darcy having a lark in the lake and returning home in his wet clothes and being accosted by Elizabeth is one of the most memorable moments of the series. Little things, like Lydia tripping as she gets into the carriage when heading off to Brighton, add so much to the end result. In addition, I must say that I think the ending of the movie is better than the ending of the book, because it draws all of the loose ends together and underlines Jane Austen's universal theme of matrimony and all that it represents throughout her works.
I recommend this movie with all my heart to everyone else who has not yet had the joyful opportunity to partake of its splendour. Beware: you will be addicted. (I actually have Pemberley as my computer desktop wallpaper and I am going to adopt another reviewer's idea of having a P&P ringtone on my mobile).
My sincere thanks to the BBC. They created a true treasure that will be enjoyed by many people all over the world forever.