Thursday, January 17, 2008

Movie Review: Pride and Predjudice

You know how there were a few classes in college you just loved? The ones that had nothing to do with your major but you couldn't help but get an A in because you couldn't stop working on them? Well one of mine was Intro to Film. I am a special sucker for good cinematography and editing. You'll see what I mean. Here we go.

Pride and Prejudice (2005) (i.e. the good one) - 12/13 stars

This movie has it's faults of course. Kiera Knightly is too pretty to play Lizzie but the makers couldn't find any other big name actresses that had the spunk and moxie to play the part. Darcy probably doesn't quite come across as proud enough. G swears that Collins and Mrs. Bennett were better in the Super-sized version.

This version however is fabulous. There are lots of good things but like I said I'm a sucker for cinematography and editing and that is where this movie shines. I cannot believe the director and cinematographer have done effectively nothing else.

This movie has wonderful long takes. A long take is a shot that goes uncut for significantly longer than normal. Long takes require the actors to get the whole thing right in one go, so they aren't used much. There are two long takes that jump out at you. One at the beginning tracking Lizzie through the field then through the house and another following Lizzie through the ballroom. If you watch closely you'll notice there are probably hidden cuts where Lizzie walks behind things (sheet in the opening and pillar in the ball scene) but nevertheless they are well done and let the audience take in a great deal about the family without much dialog (necessary when cutting a 5 1/2 hour movie down to 2). The same technique is used (although I believe serious use of green screen was involved) when panning through the windows the night after Mr. Bingley proposes.

This movie also makes great use of abrupt zooms. I am not a cameraman but I assume these are fairly difficult but they do it well. For example, when Mr. Collins proposes to Lizzie and she abruptly stands up the camera cuts to Lizzie and quickly zooms in on her face creating a very disorienting feeling, which is how Lizzie feels at the moment. You see it again when Darcy bursts in on Lizzy at Mr. Collins' house.

The scene where Darcy is riding away on horseback after delivering his letter to Lizzie is no more than 20 seconds long but incredible. Somehow they found a section of forest with a road next to it they could drive a camera truck down AND that had a parallel path a few yards in straight enough for a horse to gallop on. Then they managed to light and frame the shot so that even outside of the context of the film it is patently obvious that the rider is running away from something rather than towards it by making it appear as if the left edge of the frame is constantly about to catch the rider.

When Lizzie is touring Pemberley she stops to look at the statues. She stands for a while in front of "A Veiled Vestal Virgin" whose true face can't be seen and/or who can't see clearly, and then turns to gaze upon Achilles. Could there be a more poignant visual representation of Lizzie realizing where she and Darcy stand? Possibly, and if so I would really like to see it.

Lizzie spinning on the swing watching the seasons go by is another fabulous way to portray the boring slow passage of time without actually boring the audience with the slow passage of time.

I could go on forever but that would be boring and rather disappointing when reading a review of a movie that manages to avoid that at all costs. Suffice it to say this is one of the better movies I have watched in years. If you haven't seen it, you should. If you have, you should see it again.


Mary Beth said...

That is an excellent review on an equally excellent movie. It's one of those you can watch over and over again and still love it. The soundtrack is incredible too.

Sheyenne said...

Okay, how can you notice all these things and still pay attention to what's going on in the movie. It's like walking and chewing bubblegum I tell ya.

Anonymous said...

That was one of my favorite classes in college too. I took it my senior year on Wednesday nights with my friend in a 600 seat lecture hall. All seniors. A 10 question test followed each movie.


. said...

One of my top ten!