Format: DVDBox set, Collector's Edition, Color, Widescreen, Limited Edition, NTSC
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Jane Austen's classic novel of 1813, Pride and Prejudice, still wins the hearts of countless schoolgirls with its romantic story of Elizabeth Bennet and her Mr. Darcy. Now, the 1996 BBC miniseries is winning over adults, with its faithful adaptation, gorgeous scenery, and superb acting.The essence of the story is the antagonism between Mr. Darcy, a wealthy single man who believes Elizabeth to be beneath him, and Elizabeth, who upon being insulted at a dance by the aloof Darcy refuses to associate with him in any manner. Austen evokes incredible tension with the wit and flirtation of the two characters, and director Simon Langton (who also directed Upstairs Downstairs) successfully translates the repartee and conflict in this six-hour miniseries. Dialogue, for the most part, is painstakingly replicated, except when fleshing out and smoothing for modern sensibilities was necessary. Darcy, for instance, is drawn out, giving his personality significantly more depth. The acting sweeps you away to Regency England: Jennifer Ehle (of Wilde) is convincing as the obstinate Elizabeth, who, despite her mother's attempts to marry her off, spurs the attentions of Darcy. And Colin Firth (of The English Patient) will have women everywhere longing for a Mr. Darcy of their own. For those who enjoy excellent Austen adaptations such as Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion--this miniseries will round out the ultimate Austen library. For those new to these romantic period pieces, this version of Pride and Prejudice will have you hooked and longing for more. One caveat, however: plan to watch it in an entire day, because very few have the self-control to not watch all six hours in a single sitting. --Jenny Brown On the DVD There's a lot to love (and a lot lacking) on the 10th anniversary limited edition. It comes in a tall, embossed green case that's out of place on a DVD shelf but blends right into a library of volumes. The three discs fit snugly in a sleeve, accompanied by a 120-page deluxe companion book. The main attraction, a retrospective documentary, features interviews with key cast members with the sad exceptions of Jennifer Ehle (who played Elizabeth) and Colin Firth (Mr. Darcy), which is bound to disappoint fans. Nonetheless, there are some amusing anecdotes from Mr. and Mrs. Bennet (played by Benjamin Withrow and Alison Steadman), Mary Bennet (Lucy Briers), Mr. Collins (David Bamber), Mr. Bingley (Crispin Bonham-Carter) and Mr. Wickham (Adrian Lukis), who all look drastically different--and younger--without their period costumes and hairstyles. One producer recalls that casting Colin Firth in the role with which his name is now synonymous was not an easy feat: he auditioned having gained weight and dyed his hair blond for another role, looking like "an unmade bed." Even Firth's own brother doubted his ability to pull off the dashing Darcy: "Isn't he supposed to be sexy?" The special features also include a walking tour of the shooting locations with Lukis and Briers and an A&E Biography episode on Jane Austen that focuses largely on the onslaught of mid-1990s film adaptations of her novels. If it's your first time purchasing Pride & Prejudice, this collector's edition is a nice one to own. But if you already own the movie, you're not missing out on anything here. --Ellen A. Kim Beyond Pride and Prejudice So you'd like to... Watch a Jane Austen Novel So you'd like to... Watch a Charles Dickens Novel Visit the A&E Home Video DVD Store Stills from Pride and Prejudice (click for larger image)