Book Adaptations: ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Analysis

Screenshot of Mathew Macfayden and Keira Knightley in ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Copyright goes to Universal Pictures.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I think it’s a complete crime that I have only talked very little about one of my favorite movies of all time and my favorite adaptation of my favorite book of all time. The Joe Wright movie is one of the most beautiful films ever created when it comes to the cinematography and seems to perfectly capture each character even in its truncated form. The storytelling is beautiful, the acting is excellent, the directing is genius; what doesn’t this movie have? As I have said before, I personally prefer this adaptation to the BBC series mainly because I feel that it does a better overall job of capturing the way the characters feel in the book. Lizzie is so vibrant of a character in this version and she is just as playful as she is described in the book. And don’t even get me stared about Mr. Darcy. Mathew Macfayden plays a version of Darcy that is honestly too irresistible. In this post in particular, I want to go over my favorite scenes from this movie, over-analyze them (something I do best), and really go into why the way they were shot was so incredibly important. Obviously, MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD for anyone who hasn’t seen this movie. If you haven’t seen this movie already, go and do that right now! I swear, even if you haven’t read the book you will still love the movie. It is gorgeous in every possible way for a movie to be gorgeous.

First Dance:

The first dance that Lizzie dances with Darcy is one fraught with tension and for obvious reasons. Lizzie hates Darcy at this point for slighting her and for everything she thinks she knows about Wickham. She is automatically disappointed when she gets to the ball because she rightly deduces that it’s Darcy’s presence that has driven away her hopes for the night. So when Darcy asks her to dance and she is so shocked that she accidentally accepts, she is definitely not the most thrilled. In direct opposition, Darcy has at this point decided that he really is very interested in Elizabeth. A dance that’s part attraction part hatred is already a dynamic that makes what could have been a simple dance, so much more. The entire scene is filmed in one take and only cuts when it switches to a version of the scene where they are the only two people in the room. Though their conversation is awkward and Darcy experiences obvious hostility from Lizzie, both of them still feel the tension from each of their sides so completely that they can’t focus on anyone else in the room. To both characters and the audience, it feels like they are the only two people in the world at the time. And the interaction leaves both characters with more questions than answers.

The Hand Flex:

It would be a mistake to analyze scenes in this movie and not talk about the hand flex. After Lizzie and Jane have been staying at Netherfield, Darcy is fairly certain that he has some feelings for Lizzie. But the audience doesn’t really notice this until Lizzie is saying goodbye to the inhabitants and getting into the carriage. Darcy reaches up to help Lizzie into the carriage, which isn’t just a polite gesture. This would have been scandalous at that time. Men and women were not allowed to touch at all nor were they allowed to be alone together. One of the reasons why dancing was such a form of excitement for young people at the time was because it was the only way to spend time with the opposite sex without being chaperoned. And dancing was done with all of the ladies wearing gloves. All of that considered; skin on skin contact was absolutely unheard of. The fact that it’s such a simple movement that nobody realizes but that it’s such a meaningful form of contact, makes it the kind of thing that you continue to think about long after the scene is over. And obviously, Darcy was thinking about it. That hand flex, man.


This is probably the most popular scene in the entire movie, which is saying something. After hearing about Darcy’s hand in the breaking up of Jane and Bingley, Lizzie runs out in the rain to get away from everyone. And, unfortunately for a very smitten Darcy, he chooses just that moment to follow her and profess his love. What follows is a scene that more directly delivers the argument that we see in the novel. And it delivers it with much more drama. The shock, to anger, to attraction scene is punctuated with various thunderclaps that seem to reflect every change of emotion. This scene is also very simply shot. There is one camera on Mathew Macfayden and one camera on Keira Knightley that pull in close to the actors as the argument gets more heated and the characters begin to step toward each other. This is the first scene in the entire film where we get to see such close up shots of either character. And that is probably because this is the first scene in the movie where they are completely vulnerable around each other. Even if it is out of anger completely on Lizzie’s part; they each reveal their thoughts and feelings to each other without a pre-existing sense of decorum. And somehow the heated-ness of the conversation turns from anger to attraction. Come on, they were both looking at each other’s lips at the end of that argument. We all could see it!

The Walk:

The penultimate scene when Mr. Darcy is noticed in the early morning across a field by insomniac Lizzie. While the walk itself is brilliant, it’s actually the music that really draws me in here. The walk would be nothing without the swell of music that brings that sense of hopefulness and romance to the scene. But what I really like here is how consistently both Mathew Macfaden and Keira Knightley play their roles. Mr. Darcy approaches Elizabeth in this scene with the very same soft earnestness that he first used to profess that he loved her. But this time his words reflect the soft mannerisms rather than accidentally insult. Elizabeth’s guard is completely down now that her feelings have changed and she meets him back with the same earnestness but almost in a more confident manner. Elizabeth is definitely much less awkward than Darcy, after all. I also once again want to talk about how romantic this scene is. The fact that instead of a kiss, there’s so much emphasis on them resting their foreheads against each other while the sun rises behind them is beautiful. Somehow, it feels worlds more intimate than a kiss could have been in that scene. For those of you who don’t know, the ending scene (otherwise known as the Mrs. Darcy scene) is actually only in the US version of the movie. In the UK, they don’t have the scene. It was added on for US audiences because Americans were unsatisfied with the lack of kissing. Though I like that scene, I am personally of the opinion that it was entirely unneeded. To me, there are more intimate moments that you can portray without there having to be a kiss. Passion can be showed emotionally just as effectively as if you showed it physically. I often feel that showing a more emotional dynamic is even better! And I think that this was the perfect romance scene to almost end out the movie with.

I’m always struck by something new every time I watch this film. Which is incredible considering that I probably don’t want to own up to how much I watch it. Either it’s how absolutely adorable and lovable Jane and Bingley are or it’s noticing exactly when Darcy starts liking Elizabeth because his mannerisms around her and even his eyes seem to become softer. I personally think that the scene he truly realizes he likes her is when she shows up to Netherfield after having walked there with her hair looking wild. The way he tells her where her sister is, I think, is the first time Darcy speaks to her with that softer tone that I adore so much. And I think Elizabeth first realizes that she really likes him, more than just respecting him after the letter, when they meet at Pemberley because that’s also when she first starts talking more softly to him. Though I think her reaction at the end of the rain scene was what first caused her to realize that she was at all attracted to him. But I could seriously analyze this movie forever. It is so perfect in every possible way!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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