If you haven’t seen the 2005 Keira Knightley (Joe Wright) Pride and Prejudice go and watch it now. Then, on the DVD, check out the extra alternate ending. Also known as the American/US ending. This blog post will include spoilers of that ending, so if you want to wait until you have seen it, stop reading now.
Otherwise, this is the ending that started it all:
The public response to it at the time was pretty crazy. I, for one, will say right now that I’m a little bit of an Austen purist (particularly when it comes to the sexual side of things) and I disliked this version. However, responses to the youtube video have said things like: “I wish jane austen would have put this kind of ending” (Flora5389), “this scene it’s fantastic!!” (sprizzisprazzi1) or “Ah Jesus this is ridiculous. As much as I loved the movie, this is like sugar vomit at the end” (Krivak). So the views are most certainly mixed.
But does adding sexual suggestions, as well as the physical actions, detract from the storyline itself? Certainly, there is something admirable in the way they keep their hands to themselves (go to any club or pub and you will notice how much of a rarity that is these days) and it’s great to see something that transcends a physical level. But does this mean that adding any sort of an overtone would change the true meaning?
Sky News keyed into this debate, and created a very interesting, if short, news report about it that I definitely recommend watching:
Even in the BBC Pride and Prejudice 1995 version, stage directions included that Colin Firth, as Darcy should imagine he has an erection at one point. Obviously, this isn’t going to be a huge part of the film itself and is more a characterisation element, but it does bring some of the sexual tension in Pride and Prejudice to light. So, do you need to see them kissing to get that tension?
The other point that comes out of this- are American’s more smoochy than the British? Macfadyen (2005’s Darcy) said: “The Brit’s hated it.” when referring to the alternative ending that adds another 8 minutes to the film. I’ve heard that people who are less familiar with the book and era preferred the ending, because it felt more “complete” and “whole” and fulfilled all their expectations, but most Austenites were displeased.
You would also be wrong to say that this only happens to Austen (I see added sex-scenes all over the place) but it is certainly very obvious in Pride and Prejudice when it gets cheesed up giving the whole piece a “heightened sense of the sexuality of the lead characters in mind”. Brian McFarlane said: “that sexual attraction is more potent than class or wealth” and Andrew Davies: “the central motor which drives the story forward is Darcy’ s sexual attraction to Elizabeth”. All of these sexual tones caused the BBC mini series to be “advertizing itself as “a six part adaptation of simply the sexiest book ever written” (qtd. in Flavin 67).” (Profit and Production: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice on Film- Katherine Eva Barcsay, 2006).
If you want to read the script of the ending (well worth it) then check out this blog post from ‘My Pride and Prejudice’.