This 1980 BBC adaptation is the definitive version of Jane Austen's literary masterpiece Pride and Prejudice. Although quite long (clocking in at 265 minutes, or 4 hours 25 minutes), this film is superbly made, and the only adaptation that fully captures the humor, wit, beauty, and emotional depth that makes Jane Austen's novel one of the most cherished literary works ever. Everything in the production, from the script, to the casting, and of course, the acting, is flawless. I'd like to write a full review, but as this is commonsensemedia, I'll instead give prospective viewers a full understanding of what to expect when viewing this film.
The film details life in Georgian-era England, in which marriage between the upper-middle and upper classes was almost universally arranged on the basis of wealth, with love taking a back-seat. Although this situation is nowhere near as serious today, it truly characterized the thoughts and actions of eligible young men and women in the early-19th century. The Bennett girls are no exception, and their mother is keen on making sure that each of her daughters are well married. Although this can be a tough topic to discuss, the film explores the thoughts and reasonings behind it with dignity and respect.
The film also deals with the consequences of pride and prejudice towards people based on first acquaintances, which, as the film reveals, can be quite deceptive once a person's true character is revealed. This message is explored through various plot points that truly make the audience think.
Overall, this film has a very deep substance with hardly any objectionable content. The film is filled with positive messages such as propriety, decency, and respect, and offers strong positive role models from the main protagonist, Elizabeth Bennett, and other characters as well. In addition, we see the consequences that arise from unwise decisions, which is an important discussion point.
The reason why I rate this film 14 & up is because, although fascinating, beautiful, and intuitive, it will bore younger children to death. The topics explored in the film are "grown-up" issues such as marriage and serious decision making, and the film admittedly goes by slowly. However, it is an excellent film to show to older teens to give them an idea of how intelligent, respectable men and women of character conducted themselves in public and private affairs. Although the costumes are dated, the morals and ethics celebrated in the film are invaluable to any person of today, as it sees that respect and maturity seems to be dwindling from today's youth even more each generation. And of course, it's a touching and beautiful love story.
Overall, I highly recommend this film. It belongs in any serious British literature fan's top ten, and easily beats out any other adaptation in regards to being most like Jane Austen's timeless masterpiece.