Pride & Prejudice (2005)

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Pride & Prejudice is a 2005 British romance film directed by Joe Wright and based on Jane Austen's 1813 novel of the same name. The film depicts five sisters from an English family of landed gentry as they deal with issues of marriage, morality and misconceptions. Keira Knightley stars in the lead role of Elizabeth Bennet, while Matthew Macfadyen plays her romantic interest Mr. Darcy. Produced by Working Title Films in association with StudioCanal, the film was released on 16 September 2005 in the United Kingdom and Ireland and on 11 November in the United States. Screenwriter Deborah Moggach initially attempted to make her script as faithful to the novel as possible, writing from Elizabeth's perspective with much of the original dialogue. Wright, who had never directed a feature film, was hired for a fresh approach. He encouraged greater deviation from the text, including changing the dynamics within the Bennet family. Wright and Moggach set the film in an earlier time period and avoided depicting a "perfectly clean Regency world," presenting instead a "muddy hem version" of the time. It was shot entirely on location in England on an 11-week schedule. Wright found casting difficult due to past iconic performances of particular characters. They had to balance who they thought was best for each role with the studio's desire for stars. Knightley was well-known due in part to her work in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, while Macfadyen had no international name recognition. The film's themes emphasise realism, romanticism and family. It was marketed to a younger, mainstream audience; promotional items noted that it came from the producers of 2001 romantic comedy film Bridget Jones's Diary before acknowledging its provenance as an Austen novel. Pride & Prejudice earned a worldwide gross of approximately $121 million, which was considered a commercial success. Critics preferred the popular 1995 BBC adaptation; despite this, Pride & Prejudice earned a rating of 82 percent by review aggregator Metacritic, labelling it universally acclaimed. The film has failed to have the same cultural impact as the 1995 version, though Knightley has become associated with her character among younger viewers. Austen scholars have opined that Wright's work created a new hybrid genre by blending traditional traits of the heritage film with "youth-oriented filmmaking techniques."

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During the early 19th century, the Bennet family, consisting of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet and their five daughters—Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Catherine "Kitty", and Lydia—live in comparative financial independence as gentry on a working farm in rural England. Longbourn is destined to be inherited by Mr. Bennet's cousin, Mr. Collins, Mrs. Bennet is anxious to marry off her five daughters before Mr. Bennet dies. However, Elizabeth, the heroine, is convinced that she should never marry unless she feels compelled to do so by true love. Mr. Bingley, a wealthy bachelor who has recently moved into Netherfield, a large house in the neighborhood, is introduced to local society at an assembly ball, along with his haughty sister, Caroline, and reserved friend, Mr. Darcy, who "owns half of Derbyshire." Bingley is enchanted with the gentle and beautiful Jane, while Elizabeth takes an instant dislike to Darcy after he coldly rebuffs her attempts at conversation and she overhears him describe her as "not handsome enough to tempt me." When Jane becomes sick on a visit to Netherfield, Elizabeth goes to stay with her, and verbally spars with Caroline and Darcy. Later the Bennets are visited by their cousin, Mr. Collins, a pompous minister who talks of nothing but his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Later on, he admits to Mrs. Bennet, that he has fallen in love with Jane. But Mrs. Bennet tells him that Jane is already engaged to someone else, and suggests Elizabeth for him, stating that Elizabeth would be a better wife for him. Meanwhile, the handsome and charming Lieutenant Wickham of the newly-arrived militia captures the girls' attention; he slanders Darcy, telling Elizabeth that Darcy cheated him of his inheritance. At a ball at Netherfield, Elizabeth, startled by his abrupt appearance and request, accepts a dance with Mr. Darcy, but vows to her best friend Charlotte Lucas that she has "sworn to loathe him for all eternity." During the dance, she makes her disgust with him clear with biting sarcasm, and Darcy responds in kind. Their complete absorption with each other causes the other guests to "disappear" for a time, until the music stops. The next day, at Longbourn, Mr. Collins proposes to Elizabeth, much to her chagrin; she refuses him, which causes hysterics in her mother, but she has the support of her father. When Bingley unexpectedly returns to London, Elizabeth dispatches Jane to their aunt and uncle in London, the Gardiners, in hopes of re-establishing contact between Jane and Bingley. Then Elizabeth is appalled to learn that Charlotte will marry Mr. Collins, not because she loves him but entirely to gain financial security. Months later, Elizabeth visits the Collinses at Rosings, the manor estate of the overbearing Lady Catherine; they are invited to dine at the grand house and there meet Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam, Lady Catherine's nephews. Here Darcy pursues a greater interest in Elizabeth, especially when she replies to Lady Catherine's jabs with spirited wit. The next day, Colonel Fitzwilliam lets slip to Elizabeth that Darcy separated Bingley from Jane. Distraught, she flees out into the rain; Darcy chooses that moment to track her down and to propose marriage — and thus follows the infamous "train-wreck" marriage proposal. He claims that he loves her "most ardently," despite her "lower rank." Elizabeth refuses him, citing his treatment of Jane and Bingley, and of Wickham, and they argue fiercely. The scene provides a close-up of their faces, their minds intense with anger and indecision. Darcy leaves angry and heartbroken. He finds her later only to give her a letter, which explains that he misjudged Jane's affection for Bingley. The letter also exposes Wickham as a gambler who secretly but unsuccessfully courted Darcy's 15-year-old sister, Georgiana, to obtain her £30,000 inheritance. Elizabeth does not tell Jane what she has learned. Later, the Gardiners take Elizabeth on a trip to the Peak District and visit Darcy's estate, Pemberley. Elizabeth is stunned by its wealth and beauty and hears nothing but good things about Darcy from his housekeeper. Then she accidentally runs into Darcy, who invites her and the Gardiners to meet his sister. His manners have softened considerably, and Georgiana takes an instant liking to Elizabeth. When Elizabeth learns that her immature and flirtatious youngest sister Lydia, who was sent on holiday unsupervised, has run away with Wickham, she tearfully blurts out the news to Darcy before returning home. Her family assumes their ruin for having a disgraced daughter, but they are soon relieved to hear that Mr. Gardiner has discovered the pair in London, and that they will be married. Lydia later reveals to Elizabeth that it was Mr. Darcy who found them and who paid for the marriage. When Bingley and Darcy return to Netherfield, Jane accepts Bingley's proposal of marriage. The same evening, Lady Catherine pays Elizabeth a surprise visit and insists that Elizabeth renounce Darcy, as he is supposedly going to marry her own daughter, Anne. Elizabeth refuses, and unable to sleep, she goes walking on the moors at dawn. There, she meets Darcy, who has also been unable to sleep after hearing of his aunt's behavior. He admits his continued love, and Elizabeth accepts his second proposal. Mr. Bennet gives his consent after Elizabeth assures him of her love for Darcy. In the U.S. release of the film, an additional last scene shows a newly-married Elizabeth and Darcy outside of their Pemberley estate showing affection for each other.