Case Number 18175: Small Claims Court


Universal // 2005 // 129 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // January 26th, 2010

The Charge

Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley): The first moment I met you, your arrogance and conceit, your selfish disdain for the feelings of others made me realize that you were the last man in the world I could ever be prevailed upon to marry.
[They look at each other for a long time as though about to kiss]
Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen): Forgive me, madam, for taking up so much of your time.

The Case

My earliest experience with Jane Austen and her novels dates back to high school English class where not only did I have no idea what the women was talking about, but I also found her writing dreadfully stuffy and boring. Ironic then that during the same period, I developed a deep love and appreciation for the works of William Shakespeare, who many would argue is far more difficult to understand and no less boring. My love for Shakespeare and consternation for Austen continued in my undergraduate degree and I debated the merits of The Bard and the incessant droning of Austen with one of my classmates. It's worth noting that she hated Shakespeare and felt Austen represented the pinnacle of literary skill and insight. Bah humbug!

First published in 1813 as her second novel following Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice tells the story of the Bennet family and the social circles in which they travel. Although apparent in the novel, it really takes a film or TV presentation of this story to convey just how different the time was and how much upper middle class English society at the time was focused on courtly manners, appearances and other frippery. For me at least, the most tragic thing we've lost in modern society is the manners and respect for others that were so much a part of life at that time. But I digress. For a more in-depth analysis of the key plot points of Austen's original story, visit the other Pride and Prejudice reviews that are currently hosted on our site.

Austen's novel has been brought to both the large and small screen in numerous film and TV adaptations, most notably the 1995 BBC production that starred Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. So did we actually need yet another adaptation of this oft-told tale? Just as creative force Kenneth Branagh has invigorated and reintroduced the works of Shakespeare to modern movie audiences, this 2005 version, adapted by Deborah Moggach and directed by Joe Wright, has arguably done the same for Austen and her Bennets. While the essence of the text and all the key events remain the same, just as it has been with Branagh's adaptations of Shakespeare, the editing, shooting style and cast breathe new life into this version, making it even more accessible for today's often fickle moviegoers.

With a strong adaptation to work from, a skilled cast is the next key element in bringing this new take to life. With actors like Keira Knightley, Donald Sutherland, Judi Dench, and a whole host of others guiding the ship, there's little wonder why this incarnation has taken its rightful place as one of the more memorable adaptations. When the film was released theatrically, it met with almost universal acclaim and most critics now regard this version as one of the best and most faithful to date.

The standard DVD edition of the film, released in 2006, set the bar very high on the audio, video and supplementary fronts, begging the question of whether or not this new BD release warrants an upgrade or presents a strong case for a first-time purchase. As highly rated as the audio and video presentation were on the SD release, the hi-def version is most certainly stronger. The visual presentation is rich and sumptuous with beautiful color and impressive fine detail. From dialogue and atmospheric sound and effects to Dario Marianelli's beautiful score and Jean-Yves Thibaudet's piano melodies, the audio mix is both immersive and beautiful. The featurettes and director commentary that were included with the SD release have been included again here and the following new features have been added: "The Politics of 18th Century Dating" shares some of the etiquette behind courtship in the time of Pride and Prejudice and "The Stately Homes of Pride and Prejudice" provides the history behind the five historical mansions that were featured in the film.

The Verdict

It does my heart good to convey that this title has committed no offence of even the smallest degree. Now, on with the dancing!

Review content copyright © 2010 Kent Dixon; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 94

Perp Profile
Studio: Universal
Video Formats:
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)

Audio Formats:
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (French)

* English (SDH)
* French
* Spanish

Running Time: 129 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks
* Featurettes

* IMDb

* Official Site