Pride and Prejudice, 1995.
The well-received 1995 BBC adaptation of the renowned novel necessarily trims most of Austen’s dry, wry narrative, removing much of the novel’s bite and delivering a softer, sweeter story leavened with tinges of acerbic humor.
Jennifer Ehle (as Elizabeth Bennet) warms the screen every moment she appears on it, her lively, handsome face brimming with barely subdued mirth, her much-noted “fine eyes” speaking volumes. Colin Firth roams through the first half like a big fastidious cat, his understated distaste showing Darcy to be a most disagreeable gentleman indeed. Later, Firth pulls off Darcy’s transformation with the faltering warmth and charm that made this unassuming actor a favorite with refined and randy ladies everywhere.
In a remarkably accomplished supporting cast, Benjamin Whitrow (the ever-amused Mr. Bennet) distinguishes himself in the latter half, delivering a sensitive portrait of self-reproach and tenderness. Susannah Harker manages the tricky feat of showing Jane Bennet’s serene goodness without seeming dozy or simple. Excepting one mild attempt to spice up Mr. Darcy with gratutious shirtlessness*, the adaptation is authentic in tone and text, and compulsively watchable for Austen fans.