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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pride & Prejudice, based on the novel by Jane Austen, includes discussions of marriage for money. Set in 19th-century England, it offers a mostly gentle, sometimes incisive critique of class and gender systems. Characters drink at a party, make mild sexual allusions, and argue with one another concerning money and romance.
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What's the story?
Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley) is self-directed and stubborn, not to mention prone to PRIDE & PREJUDICE. Although she's a good girl, looking after her four sisters, trying to appease her mother (Brenda Blethyn), and doting on her daddy (Donald Sutherland), she also wants more than marriage to a boring man who happens to have money. She's destined to find her match in Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen). They meet at a ball near her family home, Darcy being a guest of Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods) and his sister Caroline (Kelly Reilly). Their arrival in town sets the Bennets, especially the bubbly missus, into a tizzy, as the girls are looking for wealthy husbands since their own respectable but small family estate is set to be inherited by the nearest male heir, Mr. Collins (Tom Hollander).
Is it any good?
Based on the Jane Austen novel, this film's overly dramatic music and golden-lit fields are salvaged by Keira Knightley's remarkable charm. She's well-suited to play Elizabeth. In the usual Austen pairing off, designated couples are defined, divided, and brought back together. Upright sort Bingley ("I'm not a big reader, I prefer being out of doors") falls for Elizabeth's bland sister Jane (Rosamund Pike), and Darcy starts squabbling with Elizabeth. He broods and grumps, she's given to pensive rhapsodies, twisting around and around on a rope swing in the family barn, the image slowed down to make sure viewers note her daunting loveliness. Darcy certainly does -- again and again, even as he does his best to resist, by disparaging the locals ("I find the country perfectly adequate") and convincing Bingley to abandon Jane.
Though their volatile romance is the basis for Austen's class critique, it's a romance, and Elizabeth must come to realize not only that she is attracted to this difficult fellow but also that he's generous and tender -- perfectly adequate boyfriend material -- and only a bit oppressed by his own relative, the ferocious Lady Catherine (Judi Dench). Still, the film follows Austen's shape without Austen's sharpness. The tinkly piano annoys, the expansive landscapes look romantic. And Elizabeth can make the sentimental choice at last, when she actually falls in love with her monied, much desired object.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Elizabeth's rebelliousness in Pride & Prejudice: How does she worry her mother but also inspire her father's loyalty? How do the parents handle their disagreement about Elizabeth's choices?
What do you see as the challenges in adapting a classic novel into a movie?
In this movie set in the early 19th century, how are attitudes concerning love, gender roles, and economic class shown?
Compare the movie to the book. How does this Elizabeth compare to the one you imagined?
- In theaters: November 11, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: February 28, 2006
- Cast: Donald Sutherland, Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen
- Director: Joe Wright
- Studio: Focus Features
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Book Characters
- Character strengths: Compassion, Humility
- Run time: 127 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some mild thematic elements
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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