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Essay/Term paper: Classic literature comes alive onscreen

Essay, term paper, research paper:  The Grapes of Wrath

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"Pride and Prejudice" is the most well loved among Jane Austenas works and it has been filmed before in 1940 with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier and made into a hit BBC mini-series in 1995 starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. There was even a Bollywood version from India last year, "Bride and Prejudice." Now, it gets adapted once more for the big screen by Director Joe Wright and it succeeds in getting the heart and essence of Austenas classic, thanks to the wonderful script by Deborah Moggach written with the help of Emma Thompson.

Literature students are surely familiar with the story. Set in the 18th century, itas about the Bennet family who lives in the countryside. They have five daughters and Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn) are eager to marry them all off before her husband (Donald Sutherland) expires. The central love affair concerns the smart and high-spirited Elizabeth Bennet (Kiera Knightley) and the rich and snobbish Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen.) There is mutual indifference during their first few meetings. Lizzie is at first matched with their cousin, Mr. Collins (Tom Hollander), but she doesnat like him at all.

Jane (Rosamund Pike), is paired with Mr. Darcyas wealthy friend from London, Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods), and just when the whole Bennet family thought that things are going on well between them, Mr. Bingley suddenly leaves. Lizzie is appalled when she later discovers that itas the arrogant Darcy who discouraged Bingley from marrying her sister. The original novel has many subplots, but theyare mostly shortened here for brevity, like the one concerning Mr. Wickham (Rupert Friend), who later elopes with Lizzieas younger sister, Lydia (Jena Malone.) Without Lizzie knowing it, itas Darcy who offers a huge sum to Wickham to marry her sister so her reputation wonat be ruined. Her opinion of him changes eventually, but itas Darcy who actually falls in love with him first and offers a marriage proposal that she instantly rejects. Things get worse when the overbearing Lady Catherine de Burgh (Judi Dench in full imperious and aristocratic mode) tells Lizzie to lay off Darcy as he is already compromised to her own nerdy daughter.

With this, "Sense and Sensibility" (for which Emma Thompson won a scriptwriting Oscar) and "Emma," one realizes that it is Jane Austen who originated the formula for romantic comedies where the intended lovers start with hostility but eventually end up in each otheras arms. This film works mainly because first time director Wright has his own distinct style of filmmaking that gives the film a modern youthful spin. This is seen right away in the opening sequence which is a long tracking shot that follows Lizzy as she walks to their humble abode, going through the front door and with the camera following her as she walks through their rather untidy living room. His scenes showing well composed shots of rustic English landscape are also beautifully photographed.

Kiera Knightley gives a totally sympathetic performance as Lizzie, so refreshing after her off-putting performance as the gun-for-hire in "Domino." Sheas alternately playful, defiant and vulnerable, delivering her every line with much persuasion and reminding us of Winona Ryder in "Littler Women" who was also nominated as Oscar best actress like her. Her leading man, Matthew MacFayden, also fits the role of the dashing but reticent Darcy quiet perfectly and they have pretty good chemistry on screen. Giving good support are Brenda Blethyn as the theatrical match-making mom and Donald Sutherland as the doting dad in a house full of women.

The production design is excellent, giving the movie a more realistic look than the over glossy period pieces weave seen. The costumes seem like theyave really been used by the characters and not just newly made for the movie, even Keiraas somewhat disheveled hairdo. All in all, this is classic literature that comes alive on screen superbly.  

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