Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Visual Poetry in Pride & Prejudice
There are “at least 7” screen adaptations of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’—a testament to its strength. Two hundred years since Austen put pen to paper, the genre foundations she laid remain evident in every film and book in romance since. Enough has been said of its tidy narrative and enduring commentary on societal expectations of class, gender and whatnot. I recently watched Joe Wright’s 2005 adaptation for the first time (you heard me) and I’d like to shed light on the mastery of the visual storytelling.
From the single take that glides through the Bennet’s home in the film’s opening moments, the camera establishes calm omniscience. With this calmness, Austen’s words unfold as gently as a spring blossom. Multiple characters doing multiple things fall in and out of frame—giggling, whispering, spying, stumbling, marching, dancing—and the camera remains ever calm and steady. Only once in a while do we zoom suddenly into Kiera Knightly’s pout or spin around with her on a rope swing to convey the dizzy tugs of her heart. The rest of the time, we are treated to gorgeous vignettes of English estates and green and pleasant countryside. Within these vignettes, hearts are broken, Mrs. Bennet’s nerves are shattered, joy is beheld, and every inch of every frame is utilised. It is an absolute delight.