The movie had a strong showing in the previous round, thanks to Brenda Blethyn’s endearingly annoying portrayal of Mrs. Bennet, Rosamund Pike’s beauty as the eldest Bennet sister, Jane, and the unfortunate casting of the Lucy Briers as Mary in the miniseries.
In this round, let’s see if the BBC Mr. Bingley, Mr. Collins, Wickham and Lady Catherine could overturn the deficit.
Crispin Bonham-Carter vs Simon Woods as Charles Bingley
This is another tough one. On one hand, I love the Simon Woods’s red-haired, completely charming and slightly geeky Mr. Bingley. His blundering proposal rehearsal with Mr. Darcy by the lake in front of Longbourn is one of my favorite scenes in the movie. And his actual proposal is just hilariously sweet (“First, I must tell you I’ve been the most unmitigated and comprehensive ass”).
But on one hand, I wonder if the movie Bingley was too goofy, a little too clueless. Crispin Bonham-Carter’s portrayal is still true to character (easy to please, easy to persuade, etc.) without bordering on the geeky. He also benefits from the longer screen time Bingley gets. We get more insight into his feelings, such as when we see that he hasn’t forgotten the exact day he last saw Jane when he and Elizabeth meet again at Lambton, and in his indignance in finding out that Darcy manipulated him into leaving Hertfordshire. This was a very close fight, and I myself was surprised at the result. Crispin Bonham-Carter finally scores one for the miniseries.
David Bamber vs Tom Hollander as Mr. Collins
Mr. Collins is probably the silliest character in the story, what with his famously rehearsed manners, inflated sense of entitlement and his overall ridiculousness. It would be easy to overdo it, and turn Mr. Collins into a creepy, slimy caricature. And, unfortunately, that is exactly where David Bamber took his portrayal of the future master of Longbourn. The hand rubbing, the greasy hair and that simpering smile was just overall too creepy and slightly reminded me of the creature Gollum from LOTR. Mr. Collins is unlikeable enough, it’s unnecessary to make him so creepy that you’d have nightmares about him. Tom Hollander, on the other hand, strikes the right balance and it is believable that the Bennets would let someone like him near their daughters.
Adrian Lukis vs Rupert Friend as George Wickham
I am so tempted to award this to Rupert Friend (a.k.a. Keira Knightley’s real-life boyfriend) because, well, look at him. He is absolutely gorgeous. But in the interests of objectivity, I refuse to be swayed by Friend’s hotness and will evaluate him and Lukis logically.
In my opinion, they played Wickham pretty much the same way. But I’m scoring this the miniseries’ way because Lukis’ Wickham offers more hope of a happy union with Lydia than Friend’s does. Despite the knowledge that they probably both deserve the most miserable existence possible, one can’t help but feel a little pity at their lowly situation in life. At the very least, for the other Bennet sisters’ sakes, you hope that they don’t divorce/kill each other and “ruin” the family. And this is why, despite his physical advantage, the movie Wickham loses out to his small-screen counterpart. Adrian Lukis shows more affection towards Lydia and the Bennet family than Rupert Friend, whose forceful pulling of Lydia in the carriage director Joe Wright labeled as “domestic violence”.
Barbara Leigh-Hunt vs Judy Dench as Lady Catherine De Bourgh
Like I need to even explain this one, no? It’s unfair to Barbara Leigh-Hunt, really, to be matched up against THE Dame Judi Dench. Leigh-Hunt has none of the presence (physical and otherwise), none of the imposing aura that Dench has, which the role of Lady Catherine requires. In the costumes alone, the BBC version of Mr. Darcy’s aunt loses out. As the pictures demonstrate, Barbara Leigh-Hunt looks nothing like the arrogant, iron-willed matriarch she’s supposed to be, whereas Dame Judi Dench (I feel like I always have to say “Dame”) emanates wealth and power. But it’s not just the clothes that are lacking. Whereas you paid attention to the BBC Lady Catherine because you had to, you paid attention to the movie version because you’re scared of what will happen to you if you don’t. Leigh-Hunt has to resort to yelling for you to notice her, Judi Dench just has to BE THERE.
Score Recap: BBC: 2; Movie: 5
So, despite the valiant efforts of the BBC Bingley and Wickham, the deficit still remains at three points for the movie. But that lead could easily be blown away in the next round, when I award two points for each win. For the last battle, I finally tackle the BBC and movie portrayals of one of the most beloved couples in literature: Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.
I can’t wait! Even I don’t know how it’s going to turn out yet.