In case anybody is interested: My siblings and I just watched the dvd of the new Pride and Prejudice. It is absolutely disgusting, don’t waste time on it. For one thing: Darcy says the word “relationship” in the course of his first proposal. What further evidence do we need?

Next: Why does everybody have to go about with their hair wild and windblown, in the modern American style? They look exactly like modern stars who got transported to a semi-medieval, semi-Regency period. And, if the BBC and A&E productions of Jane Austen are to be trusted, the costumes in this version are very wacky; why couldn’t they get proper dresses, while they were about it?

Perhaps the most horrible bit was when Darcy first proposed (in the rain, on a windswept pavilion? what’s with that?), and then argued back to Lizzie’s objections. That is so completely out of his character, to respond angrily to anything Lizzy says. (And he would look a lot nicer if he would wash/brush his hair.) And the part where they get closer. . . and closer. . . and then at the last second break off; not at all fitting with the setting. Then, when they meet at Pemberley, Darcy is not supposed to be embarassed. The whole deal with him is that he’s reserved and mysterious and haughty, not easily knocked off balance; if he would show what he felt as much as that, Lizzie would have been reconciled to him long before. And then, when they are finally engaged, what’s this: sitting outside in the moonlight talking nonsense? Ick. And all through their dialogues, the writers seem to have inserted their own lines all over the place, as if they could say things better than Austen. And why on earth does Lizzie explain about Darcy paying for Lydia’s wedding, to her father? Somebody was too obsessed with tying up loose ends. Not to mention Darcy banging into the room, when visiting Lizzie in the parsonage, or the truly anachronistic episode of Bennett visiting Jane in her sickroom.

At first I was afraid Mrs. Bennett wouldn’t be awful enough, but she quickly developed into a truly embarassing mother. Also, the sisters continually listening outside the door to every scene or proposal was a nice touch. Caroline Bingley and Lady Catherine were fairly well done, for having to be drawn so fast. This movie played up Mary’s “sour grapes” attitude, and her liking for Mr. Collins, but that’s not so awful. And Mr. Collins was as disgusting as could be desired.

Nevertheless, overall it was horrible; so many jarring modern touches, whether of dress, lighting, language, or thought. I spent the whole time cringing, waiting for the next faux pas. Don’t waste time on this one. The acting is no improvement on the old versions, and the interpretation adds nothing. It’s not close enough to the original to be worthwhile for those who love Austen herself, and I can’t believe that it was modernized enough to appeal to most American audiences. Someone remind me not to watch modern movies again.