This week we talk about a beloved BBC mini series, the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. There have been many different adaptations of Jane Austen’s books, but it seems as though this version has caught the hearts of many. In this episode we have a very special guest, Em from Verbal Diorama!
We will begin with a little about Jane Austen, the history behind the BBC show, who it stars, and what it all means to us. If we talk too much about Colin Firth, well it could not be helped!!
The beloved Jane Austen book Pride and Prejudice was first drafted in 1797 and titled First Impressions. The revised and final product, that is well known and enjoyed today, was released in 1813. All the books that she published while alive were done so anonymously, not by a pen name but simply by “a lady.” Or in the case of P&P “by the author of Sense and Sensibility”.
The four published were Sense and Sensibility, P&P, Mansfield Park, and Emma. Two were published posthumously and they were Persuasion and Northanger Abbey.
Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775 in Steventon, UK and died July 1870 in Winchester UK. Surprisingly there is not a lot known about Jane Austen. The majority of what we do know was derived from the letters she sent her sister Cassandra. The letters, however, we only have a select amount of because Cassandra burned many of them before her own death. A few things we do know about her family is that her mother and father (George and Cassandra) had 8 children and that her extended family consisted of people from rich landowners, clerics, an apprentice milliner, an alleged shoplifter, and a bankrupt banker.
Jane Austen was a fan of flirtations and for a time flirted with a young man named Thomas Lefroy. His family expected him to marry wealthy and so they went their separate ways. This prompted the movie “Becoming Jane” which is an interesting take on what may have happened. Like “Becoming Jane” many people dream of what Jane was actually like. It is not hard to do when the only thing we have to hint about her is a selection of letters. We do know that she herself had a marriage proposal in life to a man that she was good friends with his sisters. She had said yes but then the next morning informed him that she had changed her mind (probably after discussing it with her sister.) She did stay friends with his sisters and he (Harris Big-Wither) ended up marrying two years later and had 10 children. We know of course that Jane never married and passed away in 1817 at just 41 years of age.
Making of the Show
- The BBC has adapted P&P 6 times with this version being the most popular!
- Premiered on September 24, 1995 and sold 100,000 box sets of it before it was even taken off the air. The final episode was seen by 10 million people.
- It was directed by Simon Langton.
- It was produced by Sue Birtwistle.
- Adapted by Andrew Davies into a 6 episode mini-series.
- Davies wanted to portray the immense things that he believed was what Jane Austen wanted to get across such as love, sex, money, and betrayal.
- He also helped to take a 1996 book by Helen Fielding, which is a modern day retelling of P&P, into a 2001 movie. A nice touch was that Colin Firth played the Romantic lead, Mark Darcy, in this one as well!
- Costumes done by Dinah Collin. She created them in such a way as to keep it accurate for the time but also kept in mind how the 1995 viewer would perceive them.
- Even the make-up designer did a lot of research in order to get things correct.
- Colin Firth/Mr. Darcy
- We have producer Sue Birtwistle to thank for her choice in wanting Firth as Darcy and helping to convince him to take the part
- Jennifer Ehle/Elizabeth Bennet
- Best actress 1996 BAFTA winner
- Susannah Harker/Jane Bennet
- The eldest sister
- Lucy Briers/Mary Bennet
- Polly Maberly/Kitty Bennet
- Second to youngest but tends to follow the youngest around a lot
- Julia Sawaha/Lydia Bennet
- The youngest Bennet sister
- Alison Steadman/Mrs. Bennet
- Oh! Her nerves!
- Benjamin Whitrow/Mr Bennet
- Crispin Bonham-Carter/Mr Bingley
- Best friends with Mr. Darcy and Jane Bennet’s love interest
- David Bamber/Mr Collins
- Lucy Scott/Charlotte Lucas
- Barbara Leigh-Hunt/ Lady Catherine de Bourgh
- Adrian Lucas/ Wickham
“Hidden” meanings within the book/movie
- Feminist thoughts
- Class/social status/income
- Why Charlotte has to marry someone like Mr Collins to just be comfortable in life
- Love in a marriage
- Opinions of outsiders on who you should marry
- ex. Lady Catherine de Bourgh
COLIN FREAKING FIRTH
- She is tolerable I suppose but not handsome enough to tempt me!
- The famous scene where he went for a swim
- He does not actually jump in, they spray his hair a little with a spray bottle of water and then he jumps onto a blue mat while his stunt double does the actual jump in. The underwater sequence was shot on a different day in a special water tank.
- The change in his whole attitude when Lizzie first comes to Pemberley.
-Jane Austen: Her Life, Her Times, Her Novels by Janet Todd