Pride and Prejudice Revisited BBC documentary

“Pride and Prejudice will still be read when people go on holiday to the moon.”- Ian McMillan (Poet and Broadcaster)

If you are enough of a fan to have read the book, watched the versions and to have stumbled on this site then you definitely want to see this half hour BBC documentary that was released in 2005 to match the release of the 2005 Keira Knightley version.  Beginning with the history of the novel, from when it was written, it then goes on to include clips from the BBC versions, Bride and Prejudice, the 2005 version and Bridget Jones’ Diary. 

It has snippets of interviews from fascinating people, all of whom have played a large part in making P&P a huge influence in our modern lives- biographers, directors, screenwriters, academics and authors.  It’s also great to hear other fans discussing the book, both men and women, from all different backgrounds and to see the different readings and interpretations.  It also gives the directors and other key figures a chance to explain why they changed what they did, and what they were aiming to capture in their portrayal of the novel.

I found it particularly fascinating to hear the discussions about the characters, and to have all the snippets of the film next to each other for comparison.  There’s always something nice about when people discuss P&P, and they all speak about it as though the novel itself is an old friend.  It’s nice and familiar.  Irritatingly about 15 per cent of the piece is focussed on the sexualisation of the novel, and the restraint of sexuality and on and on. I think that, also, saying “Lydia who is a complete slut” just seems a bit unfair (as does referring to Mary as a “pain in the arse”), however it does a good job in making it seem current and happening.

As an introduction to P&P I think this would work quite nicely, and it is also a really good reflection tool for those of us who are already fans to watch and mull over.  Essentially the piece is just, as the title suggests through the word ‘revisited’, about the re-makes of P&P and seeing it from a filmic perspective.  This is an interesting insight, seeing how it can be reshaped to film, and hearing what professionals have to add to it- Andrew Davies who was the screenwriter for the 1995 BBC version is given a lot of screen time to discuss, which is interesting.  This also allows the documentary to go into the techniques Austen uses, and explains that they transpose themselves really well to screen.  Particularly interesting is when the concept of language and conversation is brought up and Professor John Carey, Oxford University, says “this is dialogue not as passing the time, not as conveying information, it’s dialogue as combat.”

However, the most interesting thing in this documentary is nearer the end when the book is discussed in a wider context.  I had no idea that Pride and Prejudice was BANNED in Tehran.  Unbelievable. Professor Azar Nafisi, who speaks about this, has done a fantastic thing by bringing this book to those women.  Her book “Reading Lolita in Tehran” is about this secret reading group, and I am depserate to have a look at it.

This was apparently available as a supplementary piece to the 2005 version on DVD. 
And the best thing about this documentary?  It’s on youtube.  So what do you think?  Insightful?

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