Joe Wright’s 2005 ‘Pride & Prejudice’ captivates audiences with stunning visual elements, timeless storytelling

By Olivia Rosenberg, Assistant buzz Editor

Introducing yourself to classic literature can seem daunting as many people have a notion that it is boring or difficult to understand. However, screen adaptations from the works of authors like Lousia May Alcott, the Brontë sisters and William Shakespeare have brought new audiences to the iconic tales. 

With film and television adaptations, audiences are introduced to the storytelling in a brand new way that might entice otherwise classic literature avoiders. Visual elements like set design, costuming and even casting allow for more appealing aspects besides the text itself. 

As more of her work appears in cinema, famous author Jane Austen’s following has grown immensely. With stories ranging from “Emma” to “Sense and Sensibility,” Austen has seemingly proved herself to be the queen of the romance genre; some might argue that she paved the way for the modern day rom-com itself. Most of her novels are complete with strong willed, central female characters finding love despite external forces. 

Arguably Austen’s most well-known story, considered one of the greatest novels of all time, is her 1813 work, “Pride and Prejudice,” with its most famous adaptation being Joe Wright’s 2005 film of the same name. 

The film stars Kiera Knightly as the cleverly stubborn Elizabeth Bennet, earning her an Academy Award nomination for the part, and Matthew Macfadyen as the reserved Fitzwilliam Darcy, commonly referred to as Mr. Darcy.

At the time of the film’s release, Knightly was well known for her work on “Pirates of the Caribbean,” while Macfadyen was an unknown name in the American film industry. 

In years after the film’s release, it seems as though this film is the defining material for both Knightly and Macfadyen. Even though they have moved on with more work like other blockbuster period pieces for Knightly and the hit drama “Succession” for Macfadyen, fans can’t unsee them as these two iconic roles. 

Centered around Elizabeth’s perspective, the film follows the Bennet family and Mrs. Bennet’s frantic search to marry her daughters off to upstanding prospects. Elizabeth is against her mother’s plan, thinking that no man will ever be a match for her — that is until Mr. Darcy’s arrival makes her question not only her family’s status but also her own desires. 

Though the BBC’s 1995 television adaptation remains to be quite popular with Colin Firth as a fan favorite portraying Mr. Darcy, Wright’s film builds the story world with a differing aesthetic that adds complex layers to the story.

Instead of creating a picture perfect world within the Regency era, Wright opts to show the world with more roughness and avoids the pristine image of the novel’s setting. 

This shows the separation the Bennett family has from the upper class more distinctly which makes following the plot easier from a visual perspective.

Because the language in which Austen or any classics author writes is unlike the one we speak today, it is important that any film adaptation can be easily understood by viewers not familiar with the plot. 

In Wright’s adaptation, with a screenplay adapted by Deborah Moggach, the language remains somewhat intact compared to the original writing, but the visual elements and characterizations make the dialogue less bluntly unrecognizable for those not familiar with the structure of older English language. 

The story is famous for containing one of the most popular romances of all time, that being between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. This film highlights the complicated relationship beautifully, creating iconic moments for fans to swoon over.

The love portrayed in this story is timeless, and the popularity the movie continues to gain from social media proves that it never gets old. 

Whether it’s the famous hand squeeze or the quotable lines that make this such a great adaptation, it’s a film that you won’t be able to resist coming back to over and over again. 

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