A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, despite a lack of objectionable material, this made-for-television miniseries' extended length, antiquated language, and subtle themes make it dead boring for younger kids. Even older kids may find the stuffy cinematography and formal, stiff manners of Georgian England a turn-off. But for lovers of literature, especially that written by Jane Austen, this adaptation of her novel is a treat.
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What's the story?
This BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's novel offers a long, hard look at the hypocrisy and bad manners of the English aristocracy, as the Bennett sisters look for love among the wealthy. Eliza (Elizabeth Garvie) and Jane Bennett, two of the five Bennett sisters, live in the English countryside during the early 19th century. Jane falls for the kindly Mr. Bingley while Eliza takes an instant dislike to Mr. Darcy (David Rintoul), and you know what that means. As they try to overcome the pride and prejudices of their suitors, they suffer the misbehavior of the rest of their silly family. Mrs. Bennett is especially crass in attempting to set up her daughters with any eligible bachelor she can find, and in the end Lydia, another daughter, takes a cue from mom and runs off with a dapper young cad. When the dust settles from this family scandal, the aristocratic men prove their worth.
Is it any good?
This made-for-TV adaptation is long-winded, but respectfully tells Austen's story. While the cinematography gives this version a stuffy feel, the effect is appropriate for Austen's setting. Literary adults will be quite pleased, but those who prefer the slick Paltrow version of Emma or the glossy Emma Thompson take on Sense and Sensibility will be disappointed.
The acting is superb across the board, but the true standouts are David Rintoul's Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Garvie's spirited Eliza. The story is as gripping as it is meaningful, and older kids and adults will appreciate the many comic moments. The theme of devotion and loyalty between two sisters is refreshing, and most kids and adults will relate to the Bennett family's quirky imperfections.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what happens when a book is translated into a film or TV show. Is it possible to get every nuance of a book into a film? What sort of changes might be necessary in order to hold audiences' attention, to keep from confusing them with too many characters, and to telegraph what characters are thinking, when they don't speak their thoughts aloud? Also, students might use this video as a study aid, as it is quite true to both details and the spirit of the novel.
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