Chatsworth House, part 3

Chatsworth’s grounds and gardens are as well-known as the actual house, and it’s not hard to see why.

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This is one of the many beautiful statues on the grounds. In the distance, you could see the famous Cascade. Unfortunately for me, the Cascade was being repaired while I was there (you can see the bright blue tarp) so even if I was able to get up close, I didn’t take any photos of it.

 

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Fans of the 2005 Pride & Prejudice movie will remember this spot for the awkward yet utterly charming conversation between Darcy and Elizabeth when she visits Pemberley, not knowing Darcy was home. It is one of my favorite scenes in the movie with both actors playing their embarrassment and awkwardness so well. Unfortunately, this was as close to the spot as I could get, as the steps and the entire southern front of the house is restricted from visitors (you’ll see why later).

 

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Really, how beautiful is that lane? I can’t tell you how long I stood there, just staring and taking it all in.

 

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Art installations tucked away in surprising corners of the grounds.

 

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The view of the estate from the bottom of the Cascade.

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A wider view: The Emperor Fountain, the house, the greenhouses from the Cascade.

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Despite my disappointment that the south front of the house was closed off from visitors, I understood why they did it when I was taking the above shot. It’s a much, much better picture without random people dotting it.

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But this is the money shot, no? The house, the Canal Pond, and the Emperor Fountain. If only the sky cooperated.

Overcast skies notwithstanding, my time at Chatsworth was some of the most memorable of my entire trip. The House, the grounds, the gardens, and the entire estate were even more beautiful than I have imagined them to be and that’s saying something, as I’ve idealized it as Pemberley in my head. But even without its associations with my favorite book, movie, and fictional characters, Chatsworth’s sheer scale, grandeur and, natural beauty make it worth the detour to Derbyshire even for those who have never seen or read Pride and Prejudice.

I daresay it will even be worth a second visit.

 

 

PS: I have an entire album of photos from Chatsworth on my flickr, in case you want to see more or if you want to see the panoramic shots better.

 

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Chatsworth House, part 2

As beautiful as my first visit was, the highlight of my time in Chatsworth was of course my tour of the house and garden. So in my second post on Chatsworth, I take you with me to my favorite parts of the house.

The tour of the house starts from the northern side of the building. You are welcomed to the tour by some very friendly guides and by this imposing Weeping Ash tree.

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I can only imagine how pretty this tree is with all its leaves. I’ve only ever seen Weeping Willows and I’ve never seen one that goes as high up as this Ash.

From the main entrance and ticketing area, your tour starts almost immediately in what is the most remarkable room of the house, the Painted Hall.

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Fans of the 2005 Pride & Prejudice film will remember this as the starting point of Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner and Elizabeth’s tour of Pemberley, led by the housekeeper. Elizabeth almost got left behind by her group because she was staring in awe of this room. I don’t blame her one bit.

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The tour includes a visit to the State Apartments created for the visit of King William II and Queen Mary II, which never happened. The State Apartment windows face the Emperor Fountain and the Canal Pond and, of course, the verdant landscape of the estate.

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The view from the windows of the State Apartments. Can you imagine waking up to this?

The other room in the house of historical significance is the State Dining Room, where Queen Victoria once dined.

 

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Look at that ceiling!

But because I am a bigger bookworm than I am a history nerd, I was far more impressed by the library, one of six in the house, housing the collection of 17,000 volumes amassed by the first seven Dukes. This collection includes books from half a millennium ago, so the room is always kept under low light. Access is restricted and visitors are only able to survey the library from the door. If I wasn’t afraid of being kicked out of the house, I would have loved to walk along the shelves to just look at (not even touch!) the books.

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Just down the hallway from the library is my favorite sculpture in the Chatsworth collection, if not in the world. Not that I know a lot about sculpture, but I think the Veiled Vestal is stunning.

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Carving stone to realistically look like soft, flowing fabric must be difficult enough. To work it and make it look like a thin, delicate veil over the gentle features of the vestal virgin is just amazing. You can even make out the waves of her hair on her forehead under the veil.

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Isn’t she breathtaking?

But the Veiled Vestal is just one of the many remarkable sculptures in Chatsworth. The Sculpture Gallery is the last part of the house tour, and it showcases the Devonshires’ collection rather beautifully.

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The room used to be more heavily decorated with rich tapestries and curtains which were removed during filming for Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice. Inspired by the changes made for the movie, the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire decided to make them permanent. They redecorated (or, to be more accurate, un-decorated) the Sculpture Gallery to match the 6th Duke’s original and simpler designs for the room. I think the bare walls and almost monochromatic scheme (I do dislike those pink boxes) rightly puts the focus on the pieces of art.

 

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The Sleeping Endymion by Antonio Canova

 

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Hebe by Antonio Canova

 

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There was one key bust that was missing from the gallery. In the movie, Elizabeth gets lost in thought in front of the bust of Mr. Darcy in the Sculpture Gallery. While it is no longer alongside the more notable pieces of art, it is still in the house. Chatsworth retained the bust as a souvenir, and it is currently displayed in a corner of the Orangerie shop, beside the Austen-related items for sale.

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It may not be by Antonio Canova and may not have been deemed worthy of a place in the gallery, but this definitely has a special place in my heart. As tempted as I was I did as I was requested and did not kiss it, though.

A little Darcy/McFadyen ogling was a fitting end to the visit to (his) house. The next part of my tour was a visit the magnificent gardens, which I’ll try to do justice to in my next post.

Chatsworth House, part 1

 

They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills;—and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place where nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in her admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!

– Pride and Prejudice

Chatsworth House, the real Derbyshire estate of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, is believed by some to be Austen’s inspiration for Mr. Darcy’s fictional estate. The above description seems to fit, as you’ll see later. But it is certainly Pemberley for the millions of fans of the 2005 Pride and Prejudice adaptation (including myself), and it has been my dream to visit the estate since I saw Joe Wright’s film.

That dream came true three weeks ago.

There was so much to see on the estate, and everywhere I turned, there was a picture-worthy vista. To be able to even come close to doing Chatsworth justice, I’ll be doing multiple posts on the estate.

For convenience’s sake, I chose to stay at the Cavendish Hotel, located within the estate.

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My room was on the ground floor of the building on the left, with the open window in the center.

The hotel was lovely, but the view from its lawn was even lovelier:

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One way to the house was through the gate in the picture, across the field to the left, across a bridge, and on to a path to the main Chatsworth grounds. However, I only took that way on my first day, as the cows tend to take over the nearby field. The cows do get skittish around people, although I was more afraid of the, errrr, souvenirs that they leave on the grass. I took mound-free way on my second day.

The path to the house was as picturesque as you can imagine an English countryside path to be.

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You can almost imagine running into Elizabeth Bennet on one of her famous solitary rambles.
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The walk from the Cavendish Hotel to the house took about twenty to twenty-five minutes. The house is hidden from view by trees for most of the way, and you never really see it until you are quite close to it, which certainly heightened my excitement (and strained my poor neck).

I came up to the house from its northern side and made my way across the River Derwent to take the view of the house from the west.

 

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And from the plain Paine bridge, I got my first full of view of the majestic house.

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The white tarps on the northern side of the house were unfortunate, though.

Visitors are allowed to walk the fields, among the herd of grazing sheep.

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My first though was about how lucky these sheep were to live on the estate. And then I remembered they were going to end up as someone’s dinner eventually.

From that vantage point, you also get a pretty good idea of how expansive the estate really is. Can you imagine having this view from your windows?

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To be mistress of Chatsworth might be something!

 

I was so glad I made the decision to walk to the house and explore the parts of the grounds that I could, even if I knew was coming back the next day. It definitely made me even more excited for my tour of the house and gardens.

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Because the little that I saw was already overwhelmingly beautiful, and surpassed even my high expectations of a place worthy to be used as Pemberley twice. And I haven’t even seen the inside of the house or the famous gardens yet.

 

Happy 200th Birthday, Pride & Prejudice!

Yesterday was the 200th anniversary of the publication of my favorite book of all time, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I am ill-qualified to write anything that will do justice to the book, Jane Austen and its enduring place in literature, pop-culture and the hearts of millions of women (and some men) the world over. So, instead, I’ve rounded up, from all over the interwebs, my favorite bits and pieces to celebrate the day Jane Austen gave us the gift of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy:

  • No surprise that The New Yorker’s tribute is wonderfully written and lovely. In what is a very quick read, William Deresiewicz manages to touch on the history of P&P‘s publishing, other legendary authors’ reaction to Austen and the book (Charlotte Brontë and Mark Twain hated her, Virginia Woolf called her “the most perfect artist among women, the writer whose books are immortal”), the dearth of information on Austen’s life and why we still love Pride & Prejudice so much, after all this time.

  • Because I liked that New Yorker article so much I clicked through to the link to Deresiewicz’s book, “A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter.” As if that title wasn’t enough, the book description sold me:

“Before Jane Austen, William Deresiewicz was a very different young man. A sullen and arrogant graduate student, he never thought Austen would have anything to offer him. Then he read Emma—and everything changed.”

If that doesn’t convince an Austen fan to buy this book, I don’t know what will.

  • This Conde Nast Traveler slideshow on the stately homes, towns and gardens all over the UK that were used as settings for either the BBC miniseries or the 2005 movie reminded me that I need to start saving for that trip to the UK. Chatsworth has been on my bucket list since, you guessed it, 2005.

  • If you need a quick reminder of what the story is about then here’s P&P  illustrated as a comic. I actually want a printout of this to pin on to my office desk cork board.
  • And again, via NPR, what is ostensibly a review of an Austen biography of sorts. What I liked about this particular article, though, has nothing to do with the book being reviewed (no offense to the author of both the book and the review). I liked the story about Albert the orangutan and the author’s thoughts on who Jane Austen would be pals with if she were alive right now (clue: one of them hosted the Golden Globes this year and the other one won two).
  • The Week’s roundup of the most bizarre retellings and reincarnations of Austen’s story is so, well, bizarre, that Seth Grahame-Smith’s zombified edition doesn’t even make the cut.  But a Twilight-esque treatment, a retelling in the “dialect of the American South” and a “Wild and Wanton” edition (Austen must be rolling in her grave) do. If I were Jane Austen, I don’t know if I’d be flattered or offended.
  • And now for a bit of shameless self-promotion. I didn’t write this for the 200th anniversary of course, but if ever you were wondering what I thought was the definitive Pride and Prejudice adaptations, here’s my sometimes rambling comparison (part one, two and three) of  the BBC production and the 2005 movie by Joe Wright. I wrote this a couple of years ago and have re-watched both since, and, instead of changing my mind, I now even feel more strongly about what I wrote. I’d love to hear what YOU think.

And so there you have it, a mishmash of the commemorations of 200 years of Pride and Prejudice. William Deresiewicz couldn’t have said it any better:

“Two hundred years—the bicentennial. Send in the tall ships. Set off the fireworks. Darcy and Elizabeth forever.”

Click the photos for their sources.

Siiiiiiiiiiiigh

I know the title isn’t very eloquent, but I can’t think of a better way to sum up the way my favorite movie of all time (and I say that without any exaggeration) makes me feel: siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

It’s very rare that a movie based on a book leaves a reader satisfied, much less completely and absolutely enamored with the film. And Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book of ALL. TIME. So Joe Wright’s 2005 adaptation had a LOT to live up to, to say the least.

And it met and wonderfully exceeded my lofty standards.

I don’t envy writers who adapt their screenplays from well-loved books and in classic English literature, I really don’t think it can get more well-loved than Jane Austen. It’s a thankless job, because some bookworm out there will always have something to complain about. But I really can’t imagine how Deborah Moggach’s adaptation could be significantly improved. Although I would have preferred to have seen Ms. Bingley’s (played to haughty perfection by Kelly Reilly) jealousy of Elizabeth played out on screen, that’s just me wanting to see a bitch get her comeuppance (don’t we all?). Other than that, I think it’s a beautiful adaptation. It took enough from dialogue from the book for it still to be distinctly Austen, but not so much that the characters sound like they’re speaking a different language. It was well-paced and the detail and character omissions did not take away from the story at all.

But a good script alone doesn’t make a good movie. The other half of the genius of this movie is in its casting (what is it about British films, anyway? Why are they all so impeccably cast?). Almost everyone, from Judi Dench as Lady Catherine and Brenda Blethyn as Mrs. Bennet is perfect for their role. And none the more so than the two leads: Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew McFadyen as Mr. Darcy.

Although I discuss it more at length in a previous post, it still must be said: these two NAILED IT. Both Keira and Matthew were born to play these roles. I was skeptical about Keira playing my favorite fictional heroine, given that the roles she was famous for were in Bend it Like Beckham and Pirates of the Carribean. Not exactly dramatic gold. So imagine my surprise when she moves from the self-assured, headstrong and stubborn Lizzy, to the confused, conflicted and humbled girl in love seamlessly and gracefully.

And what about McFadyen’s Mr. Darcy? Well, before I saw the film, I was already convinced that if I ended up an old maid, I would have Jane Austen’s Fitzwilliam Darcy to blame, even if I didn’t really have a picture in my head of what Darcy possibly looked like. After seeing the movie, the picture in my head is of McFadyen. McFadyen is so perfect as Mr. Darcy, that I actually get disoriented when I see him in a role set in the modern world, that I find it weird when I see him in a suit and not in breeches, a waistcoat and coattails. And he’s not even THAT good-looking (sorry, Matthew, but you know I love you)!  He plays the formal, stiff Mr. Darcy well enough, but I think it’s the flustered, nervous and struggling Mr. Darcy that McFadyen gets spot on, and that gets the “awwwwwwws” going. With McFadyen, you really appreciate the inner struggle Darcy goes through with his feelings for Elizabeth, and isn’t that what’s at the crux of Darcy’s story anyway? And he plays it all with such emotion, but yet with such subtlety. Even with just his eyes and very small movements in his face, McFadyen makes you feel what Mr. Darcy is going through. Mr. Darcy is the probably the most controlled character of them all, but McFadyen is so good as him, that even when Darcy’s unintentionally blurts out “I love you, most ardently”, it all still seems so natural. *swoooooooon*

And together, Keira and Matthew are just brilliant. They play off each other so well. When Darcy and Elizabeth are arguing there’s fire and hostility, but you can sense an underlying attraction to each other that is just undeniable, despite both’s best efforts to resist it. And they are just as good in the latter stages of the movie, when all the hostility is replaced by nervous awkwardness and longing. Like I said, brilliant.

If you need further convincing on how good Keira and Matthew are together, here goes:

If that still doesn’t convince you, (1) what is wrong with you? and (2) then my final suggestion is to get an original DVD of the movie, and watch it with director Joe Wright’s commentary. I loved the movie even without it, but I watched Pride and Prejudice with it and, I didn’t think it was possible, the commentary made me love the movie even more. Wright’s sometimes hilarious and always insightful anecdotes about making the movie, the characters, the actors and the script just gave me a new appreciation for the film that I never had. So, please, get the original DVD. I’ll lend you mine if you can’t find one.

Because more people need to realize how beautiful this movie is. Also, I need more members in my “I am Mrs. Darcy” old’s maid club.

The Battle for my Heart, Pt. 3

And so here we are. It all boils down to this. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Keira Knightley and Matthew McFadyan vs. Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. It might as well be Pacquiao vs. Mayweather for boxing fans, the Backstreet Boys vs. *N Sync for, well, me (and for tons of other people who are ashamed to admit it, too, for sure). I’m awarding three points to the winner of for each character. The book is their story, after all and one of the greatest love stories in fiction, at that.

Jennifer Ehle vs Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet

There were some striking similarities between Jennifer Ehle and Keira Knightley in their portrayal of the second Bennet sister. There are times when they sound like each other when delivering their lines, they have similar laughs and sound the same when they were crying in that scene after receiving Jane’s letter regarding Lydia’s elopement. It was actually quite weird. But despite these parallels, I think one of them definitely outshines the other in her portrayal of one of literature’s most beloved heroines.

Keira Knightley, simply put, is a better actress than Jennifer Ehle, and, no, I’m not just saying that because she was nominated for her first Oscar for this role. Despite her having about half the screen time that her BBC counterpart has, you get more out of Knigtley than you do from Ehle. You got more “fire” from her in the scene where she interrogates Darcy while dancing at Netherfield. You actually felt and shared her embarrassment when talking to Mr. Darcy during that fateful meeting on the grounds of Pemberley. And you empathized with her during Jane’s engagement, where, although extremely delighted for her sister, Elizabeth was still wistful about what could have been her engagement, what could have been her own happy news.

I suppose this is where Knightley excelled. She took you along for the rollercoaster ride of Elizabeth Bennet’s feelings, whereas in miniseries, you just watched Ehle go through the motions. Ehle is by no means a terrible actress, far from that. It just so happened that she was up against a Keira Knightley who was giving what was so far the breakthrough performance of her career.

Winner: Keira Knightley

Colin Firth vs Matthew McFadyen as Mr. Darcy

Let’s face it, Mr. Darcy is the be all and the end all of anything related to Pride & Prejudice. If you screw up casting this role, you might as well throw in the towel and turn your movie/miniseries into Mansfield Park or Northanger Abbey or some other Austen novel where the lead male could be easily played by some random, reasonably handsome, staid Englishman (please exclude Persuasion’s Captain Wentworth from this category). Thankfully, both the movie and the miniseries did fine jobs of casting Mr. Darcy.

Colin Firth, it must be said, is the more handsome Darcy. Firth, with this strong jaw line, high cheekbones and straight nose is handsome in a more traditional sense than McFadyen. It takes some time to buy into McFadyen as the dashing landlord of ten thousand a year but he more than makes up for this trivial disadvantage in other ways.

As with the other characters, Firth benefits from the additional screen time afforded by the mini-series. Through the flashbacks and expositional scenes (that weren’t even in the book), you get a better understanding of Darcy’s motivations and get a better appreciation of his efforts in finding the reviled Wickham and the doomed Lydia. So in that scene where all is revealed between Lizzie and Darcy, you really feel it when the latter says to the former, “Surely, you know, it was all for you.” (*sigh*)

But to be completely honest, as willing as I was to get kilig by Colin Firth, he doesn’t even come close to the swooning induced by Matthew McFadyen’s Darcy. While miniseries-diehards will insist that compared to Firth, McFadyen was stiff and flat, I vehemently beg to differ. McFadyen astutely conveys Darcy’s struggles in holding back his feelings for Elizabeth, feelings which overcome his pride and studied restraint. A perfect example of this is his initial proposal scene, perfectly played out in the rain in a stunning, secluded setting (who could forget “I love you. Most ardently.” ). McFadyen transitions from confident, nervous, confused, hurt, indignant and jealous in the space of a thrilling three minutes. Firth’s corresponding scene falls flat in comparison, though not entirely through his fault (I suppose he can’t help it if the scene was written that way).

Movie Darcy also wins the battle of Pemberley. In that embarrassing first meeting he catches Elizabeth running away from the house as fast as she could. The tension, the embarrassment and awkwardness between these two who so obviously have feelings for each other is so real, so relatable and so charmingly palpable in that scene (plus points for the flustered Keira Knightley, as well). In the book, Darcy’s manner towards Elizabeth takes a 180 degree turn, and the change is distinct in McFadyen yet seamless and natural. In Firth, not so much.

So who wins it for me? I finished watching the miniseries thinking it was going to be a draw, but on closer inspection, Matthew McFadyen trumps Colin Firth as the definitive Darcy. As with Keira Knightley above, I just got more out of McFadyen. As vague as it sounds, his Darcy is more layered and more complex than Firth’s. Although I knew exactly what was going to happen, movie Darcy still made me swoon and giddy and go “awwwww…” more times than I could count: when Lizzie first caught his attention at the public ball, when he unexpectedly handed her into the carriage, when he first blurted our “I love you”, when he was walking towards Lizzie at dawn (I can actually hear the music in my head), etc., etc. And isn’t that the point of Mr. Darcy: to make us swoon and kilig and believe in love?

The handsomer (hehe…) Colin Firth made me believe in love a little, too, though. So I score this two points to the movie, one point to the miniseries.

Final Tally: BBC: 3, Movie: 10

The ultimate Lizzie and Darcy

After careful and logical (I hope) inspection, the 2005 movie triumphs over the 1995 BBC miniseries. Better casting and acting wins it for director Joe Wright. A more dramatic, emotional script, no doubt dictated by the run time limitations of a movie, also outweighed the character development benefits of the longer miniseries.

So after hours and hours of watching and more hours of blogging, I ended up where I started anyway: with Pride & Prejudice, the movie, unchallenged in my heart as my favorite movie and the definitive screen adaptation of the Jane Austen masterpiece.

Do you agree or have I been blinded by MY prejudice for the movie? Let me know in the comments!

The Battle for my Heart Pt. 2

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

The BBC 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”).

The Movie Bingley

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.

The Movie Mr. Wickham

The BBC Mr. Wickham

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

The BBC Lady Catherine

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.

The Movie Lady Catherine

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.