Posted by: Jen. 3 Stars
Director:Robert Z. Leonard
Starring: Laurence Olivier, Greer Garson, Edward Ashley
Sometimes remakes are better Nothing proves this more than the 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice starring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson. Although Garson was beautiful and Olivier was considered one of the greatest actors of the 20th century, they were not enough to save this farce.
Pride and Prejudice is a popular Jane Austen novel written in the late 1800s, and is so beloved by fans that there are several published works by various authors taking up where Austen left off. Darcy (Olivier) is a rich man who visits Hertfordshire with one of his buddies. This is where he meets the headstrong Elizabeth (Garson), and the two face off in a battle of wits. He thinks he’s better than her and her family, and she hates him for it. As they get to know one another, they discover that they were wrong about each other and begin to fall in love.
Instead of using the material set before him in the novel and the movies that came before, the director decided to throw in scenes and situations that weren’t in the book, including a carriage race, the Bennet family getting ready to move out of their house and a scene where Darcy tries to teach Elizabeth how to shoot a bow and arrow. By doing this, we get a laugh or two, but lose a little of the novel along the way. They even completely changed some of the traits of the main characters, such as making the shy Jane Bennet into someone who openly shares her feelings and dreams, which changes a large portion of the film. Elizabeth was a headstrong, witty woman who suddenly cried and allowed Darcy, a man she hated, to console her. The conflicts between some of the characters’ personalities were nonexistent. All the elements that made the novel so beloved suddenly became like any other romantic movie.
If you want a version that’s exactly like the novel, I would recommend one of the BBC miniseries, because nothing will be left out. They even spend ten minutes panning on a close up of Elizabeth reading a letter. If you want a watchable movie that’s exciting and fairly true to the novel, I would recommend the 2004 version with Matthew MacFayden and Keira Knightly. The 1940 version is good for a laugh, but is not to be taken seriously. I expected better.