7.01.2005

Pride and Prejudice: A Diary of Five Hours in a Courageous Man's Life

When my sister comes in to visit from Houston, she will often sit down with my mom and watch Pride and Prejudice. By "often," I mean "compulsively rewatch as a feminine bonding ritual that I want as much distance from as possible." My sister and mother are not alone in this - I've met few girls who are anything less than effusive when the subject of Pride and Prejudice comes up. It was a mystery to me, but a trivial one - I could have spent the rest of my life ignorant of the riddle's answer and remained perfectly content.

My own experience with Pride and Prejudice was brief. At the urging of my mother, I bought the book and eventually opened it with the intention of reading it. I was greeted with the following:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any young man in possession of a small fortune must be in want of a wife.

Of course, this hit entirely too close to home, and after the book dropped suddenly from my limp hand, I came to and (probably) considered jumping on the motorcycle and heading for the Badlands. In any case that was my last association with the writings of one Jane Austen...

...that is, until this week. In a four day span, I watched my San Antonio Spurs and Texas Longhorn baseball team win championships, and somewhere in there, Ellen asked if I'd be up for watching Pride and Prejudice, and I said something to the effect of "Sure, I think it's about time I did tha- Wow! Nice move by Manu there!" And so it was that I found myself watching the five-hour miniseries with Ellen and Cristy Sealy on Wednesday night.

Here's what I knew going in:
1) The five-hour Pride and Prejudice mini-series was five hours long, and we were planning to watch all five hours in one night.
2) The star was Colin Firth, a British guy who all women implicitly adore and who is the only actor in the movie that I was familiar with. I would call him a slightly less foppish Hugh Grant.
3) There was a guy who bragged about a staircase in the middle of the movie that seemed funny in the minute I saw of him one time.
4) I found myself completely agreeable to doing this. It's as if God granted me the grace to endure this, and I felt utterly confident that I could.
5) Ellen made it clear that I could make snide comments and laugh at what I saw, so long as I sat through the whole thing. No escape, no surrender. Well, no escape at least...

To share my experience with you, I thought I would keep a diary of my night of Pride and Prejudice. For those who watch Pride and Prejudice regularly (I like to call them "women"), you can actually print this out and watch my comments in sync with the movie. For those who have no interest in ever doing this ("men"), prepare to have a hearty laugh at my expense...

0:00 - Here with Christy and Ellen. Cristy is taking pictures of Annie, Ellen's cat, who in peering down on us from her perch on top of the TV. Did I mention that I'm watching Pride and Prejudice?

0:01 - Our movie begins with two guys riding horses toward a house. Apparently, I've already missed something...

0:02 - A lot of brunettes in this movie. I like the brunettes. Nice sideburns on the old man...

0:04 - ...whose name is Mr. Bennett. Mr. Bennett has five daughters and a nagging wife. Seems to be handling it well...

0:07 - Christy is talking to her mom on the phone. She dumped her mom with the words, "I'm watching Pride and Prejudice." I'm guessing her mom probably understood and took no umbrage...

0:09 - Expository note: If the five girls don't marry well, they will be poor, because their father will leave their estate to their cousin, who has the good fortune of being male. I wonder how they will respond to this great dilemma...

0:10 - This movie apparently prominently involves five young women in their undergarments much of the time. Just thought I'd mention this...

0:14 - Ellen just commented that British women of the time had no problem with their boobs bouncing around, but wouldn't show their ankles. I think it's because they had fat ankles...

0:18 - Mr. Darcy (played by Colin Firth) doesn't smile. I think he must have been made to read a Jane Austen book or something...

0:20 - Mr. Bingley (played by Crispin Bonham Carter, Helena's brother) smiles all the time. He seems very happy. I think he's high...

0:21 - Mr. Bingley just asked Mr. Darcy to dance. Darcy turned him down. I bet Hugh Grant would have danced with him...

0:23 - The nagging wife (NW) is in a good mood after the first party, but does speak about being "vexed greatly."

0:24 - Lizzie, the second-oldest daughter, is hot. Darcy is ignoring her. I'm guessing they end up together...

0:26 - I love the dialogue here - Jane Austen writes it well, and 19th Century English provides a good literary context.

0:28 - There are 272 minutes left in this movie. Honestly, what else can happen in this movie where they need 272 minutes to tell the story of it?

0:30 - Wine Glass #1. Let's see if this helps.

0:32 - Darcy is not enjoying himself very much. I'm feelin' you, Darcy. I'm feeling you...

0:33 - Cristy just asked Ellen, "Who's this guy? Wasn't he in that porno we watched?"

0:34 - Apparently, the "porno" that Cristy referred to was Love Actually, which did in fact have Colin Firth in it. It also had Hugh Grant and every Brit romantic comedy actor from the last 15 years in it, combined every known romantic comedy cliche lazily into about 10 storylines, and is probably my least favorite movie. Ever. I'd rather that Cristy had been talking about an actual porno...

0:35 - Cristy is gushing over how cute Annie looks on top of the TV...

0:37 - I like Lizzie...

0:38 - So if you want to make your boobs look good, put your waistline right below them. This may make you look pregnant, though...

0:39 - The oldest daughter, Jane, is sick. I forgot to mention that Bingley, the high one, is taken with her. If this were a Louisa May Alcott story, she would probably die. Since it's Jane Austen, it's probably just an excuse to get Darcy and Lizzie together again...

0:40 - There's a slutty-looking brunette who doesn't seem to like Lizzie very much...

0:41 - Ellen said, "They're hunting now - that's sort of manly..."

0:43 - She added, "See, there's a little bit of pool."

0:45 - Darcy told Lizzie, "You are very severe upon your sex, Miss Bennett." Just thought I'd mention this...

0:48 - What the hell? There's a naked dude in this movie!

0:49 - Not only that, the naked dude (Darcy) had another guy put on his robe for him after getting out of the tub. What is this, Top Gun?

0:51 - Sexual tension between Lizzie and Darcy. Only four more hours, and something might become of it...

0:52 - Jane's healthy. Jane and Lizzie will be going home. Darcy's mourning the loss of Lizzie's "paired opinions." I bet he is...

0:55 - Mr. Collins is coming. I've heard good things...

0:56 - Cristy has provoked Annie to the point where she's acting Wolfy-like. That is, except for the fact that she doesn't bite hard, where Wolfy seems to want to tear your flesh from your body...

0:58 - Mr. Collins is hilarious. He's a clergyman and a family cousin who has come to visit. He reminds me a lot of Bill Murray in Space Jam in that he is dulling the pain of the movie for a bit with some welcome comic relief. However, Bill Murray appeared in the home stretch of Space Jam; this one still has four more hours left...

1:00 - In addition to being an ass (though an entertaining one), Mr. Collins is a cousin who has come to hit on his cousins.

(Cue Dueling Banjos...)

1:01 - This is what Star Wars would have been like if Luke Skywalker had realized that Leia was his sister, and said something to the effect of, "Yeah, we're related, but I still think you're hot..."

1:03 - Lydia (the outgoing younger sister) has found a man she fancies, and we have more Darcy-Lizzie sexual tension...

1:04 - I don't know why I find the tails on Mr. Darcy's coat so funny, but I do...

1:07 - Lizzie just met Mr. Darcy's "friend" Mr. Wickham, who just 1) Made Darcy look like a jerk and 2) Charmed dear Lizzie. The man has skills.

1:10 - Lizzie just described Wickham as "open and artful." Again, I love Jane Austen's dialogue...

1:12 - Mr. Collins is asking for "the hand of all his fair cousins." This man is getting better and better...

1:15 - More dissing of Darcy by Wickham, followed by the revelation that Darcy is intended to marry his cousin too. Flipper grankids everywhere!

1:16 - Lydia is supposed to be 16, but the actress playing her must be in the neighborhood of 30. Nice to know that they cast this movie the same way that they cast Dawson's Creek and 90210...

1:17 - Mr. Collins just saw Lydia in her underwear, and seems disgusted. I would consider this out of character for him...

1:19
- One of the benefits of watching a movie with two flute players is that they can provide you with interesting little bits of information like this: In this movie, they used vintage period instruments at the party scenes, including a traverse flute, which is made of wood. Ellen says she will be playing one in her doctorate program at Florida State in the fall...

1:21 - Mr. Collins just made a clumsy move while dancing with Lizzie. Darcy almost smiled. Darcy reminds me of Jeff - he's moody, morose, and ornery...

1:22 - Darcy just asked Lizzie to dance.

1:24 - I am now watching what appears to be a 19th Century British line dance. I would call it a formal, solemn version of the Achy Braky...

1:29 - The line dancing is over...

1:32 - The intellectual/musical sister, when asked for a song, started singing something that would probably cause dogs to start howling in the background...

1:33 - I need another glass of wine...

1:35 - Hey, there's that Mozart piece that my mom played all the time when I was growing up...

1:36 - Mr. Collins just told Lizzie that she is "the companion of my future life", giving the following reasons:

1) Clergy must set an example.
2) The union will add to his happiness.
3) It was the recommendation of his neighbor, Lady Catherine.

I think Lizzie has some compelling reasons for accepting his offer:

1) They have a lot in common.
2) They are like family.

(OK, I made that up, but you can see where this is going...)

1:40 - Lizzie turned down Mr. Collins' compelling offer, which vexes the NW greatly. Exasperated, she told Lizzie that "You may never have another man who will ask you to marry!" The NW is priceless...

1:41 - Asked by the NW to appeal to Lizzie to reconsider, Mr. Bennett tells Lizzie that "Your mother will never see you again if you don't, and I will never see you again if you do." Again, the NW is greatly vexed...

1:44 - Mr. Collins may have another suitor - someone is inviting him to dinner...

1:45 - Well that was quick - he's marrying someone else now. Way to get back on the saddle, Mr. Collins...

1:46 - He's bragging on his new house.

1:47 - Bingley's moving to London. Bullocks.

1:51 - Wickham's back, and it just occurred to me that he is a Redcoat. Hey Wickham - Yorktown, baby! Yorktown!

1:56 - Jane and Lizzie have a cool relationship. They're sisters in the truest sense, supporting one another through the ups and downs of their love lives.

I'm sort of getting into this. Must be the wine...

1:59 - 181 minutes to go. I'm doing alright...

2:02 - Upon hearing that Mr. Collins would have a wedding night, Cristy said with disgust, "Oh, nasty!" Not a pleasant thought...

2:06 - Apparently, Mr. Bingley does not care for Jane anymore. If I cared, it might be getting a little dusty in here...

2:09 - Wine glass #3

2:11 - Mr. Collins is back, and none too soon.

2:12 - In showing off his house, Mr. Collins told his guests with no irony that "This staircase is eminently suitable for a clergyman of my position, being neither too shallow nor too steep."

2:13 - I'm beginning to see why we kicked this country's ass in the Revolutionary War. Can you imagine George Washington with his hand on the hilt of his sword telling houseguests how great his staircase is? Me neither...

2:15 - We are introduced to Lady Catherine. She reminds me of that lady that Jerry Seinfeld stole the marble rye from...

2:18 - This is Darcy's aunt. Convenient, as Darcy is now back...

2:21 - Darcy and Lizzie in the woods. Darcy looks at her, and rides away. Honestly, if Darcy could confess his affections for her, we would have been out of here by now...

2:24 - Lizzie - "Not to be hard on anyone of my sex..."

2:25 - Darcy finds Lizzie alone...

2:26 - ...pregnant pause...

2:27 - ...awkward moment...

2:28 - ...and he's gone...

2:29 - ...and we're almost halfway there...

2:30 - We find out that Mr. Darcy made Bingley go to London to get him away from Lizzie's sister Jane. Not winning points here, Darcy...

2:31 - Lizzie's sad.

2:32 - Lizzie asks Darcy, "Will you not sit down?" Darcy waits a minute, sits down, then stands back up...

2:33 - ...and tells Lizzie that he loves her and wants to marry her...

2:35 - Quick tip Darcy - If you want her to marry you, stop insulting her family and social position.

2:38 - Lizzie turns down Darcy, and we have Intermission. Time for Wine Glass #4...

2:40 - And on to Part 2, where we see Lizzie and Darcy haunted by each other as they go their respective ways...

2:44 - In a letter, Darcy explains the sitch with Wickham. Wickham had grown up in Darcy's house, but became a ne'er-do-well womanizer who dissipated any wealth he came into. In a scheme to get some of Darcy's money, he tried to seduce Darcy's 15-year-old sister Georgianna, but failed when Darcy discovered the plot. On this matter, Darcy looks gold...

2:47 - ...but then he defends his decision to keep Bingley away from Jane on the basis of the Bennett family being so nutty. Understandably, this miffs Lizzie, who responds with the words, "Sufferable Assumption!" No need to get nasty there, Lizzie...

2:52 - Based on what I just wrote down, I'm way too invested in this movie right now...

2:55 - Lizzie is trying to set up Lady Catherine with her dimwitted uncle. She's a crafty lady...

2:57 - Hey Mr. Collins - Eyes up here!

Seriously, dude - that's your cousin...

2:59 - Lizzie just saw Darcy's ghost in the window...

3:00 - Lydia, the 30-year-old teenager is back. She wants to go to Brighton. They're going to build Triumphs there someday...

3:03 - Jane and Lizzie are back together. How sweet...

3:04 - Nice corset there, Lydia...

3:05 - Ellen has informed me that I'm cut off.

3:06 - Jane looks like a Greek statue.

3:09 - There's a sister that I'm not familiar with. Hangs out with Lydia, doesn't seem to do anything significant...

3:10 - In trying to assuage Lizzie about his letting Lydia go to Brighton, Mr. Bennett tells her that "Lydia will never be easy unless she's exposed in a public place." She seems plenty easy to me...

3:11 - Only 109 short minutes to go. No wine to help me out, though...

3:13 - Nice scene with Wickham and Lizzie here. Lizzie's smooth, so unlike the rest of her family. Similar to what Jane Austen must have been among her society...

3:15 - We see English mountains, which almost reach the majestic heights of West Austin...

3:17 - Ellen says that this is the Stonehenge moment. Lots of big rocks here...

3:20 - Lizzie finds out that Darcy has a very, very fly crib. The house is huge, and sits in a gorgeous setting. Lizzie is intrigued...

3:23 - Darcy's maid thinks a lot of him.

3:24 - Ellen informs me that this will be my favorite scene.

3:25 - Darcy has arrived back, and is taking off his clothes. This is not encouraging...

3:26 - That was it. Wow.

3:27 - Darcy emerges from the pond with a wet shirt, and encounters Lizzie.

Hey Lizzie - Eyes up here!

3:28 - Lizzie's a little flustered...

3:29 - Darcy's very charming in his crib. You're so money, Darcy, and you don't even know it (but she does...).

3:31 - If she looks back, that means she's interested...

Wow, she definitely looked back. Leered even.

OK, what else needs to happen here? 90 minutes to go...

3:32 - Georgianna, meet Lizzie...

Oh crap - they're wearing the same outfit. That's just embarrassing...

3:35 - Bingley's back, and based on his inquiries about Jane, he's still interested (or has the munchies - he's probably desperate to find some crumpets at this point).

I'm guessing all ends well. We still have more than an hour, though...

3:36 - Slutty Brunette is back. Doesn't look happy.

3:38 - Slutty Brunette just mentioned Wickham. What a slut!

3:40 - David Medina just called, and Darcy just dissed Slutty Brunette.

3:41 - Romantic Mozart music. Cristy's awake...

3:44 - We find out in a letter from Jane that Lydia just eloped with Wickham, probably due to some seductive deception on his part. Lizzie's upset, which means that I am also upset...

3:46 - Darcy walks in, and upon hearing, offers Lizzie some wine. Way to be the rock, Darcy.

3:49 - Darcy leaves without saying much. He'll probably save the day...

3:52 - Lizzie arrives home to find that Mr. Bennett is off looking for Wickham, and that the house is aflutter.

3:53 - The NW is worried that Mr. Bennett will fight Wickham and die, and that Mr. Collins will end up with the estate. As long as she's focused on the important problem...

3:55 - David Medina called for the third time...

3:57 - Lydia's letter is read. For a 30-year-old teenager, she's an idiot. She could learn something from Joey Potter, or Donna Martin even...

3:59 - Darcy's visage appears in the mirror again. The special effects in this movie are top notch...

4:01 - Another sweet moment with Jane and Lizzie, where they commiserate about how Lydia's idiocy will make them old maids. How sweet...

4:02 - Mr. Collins is back to rub the Bennett's misfortunes in their faces under the guise of being a friend.

4:03 - The intellectual/musical daughter just pointed out that "A friend in need is a friend indeed."

4:04 - Lizzie deftly gets rid of Mr. Collins. Prideful people are such idiots...

4:06 - It just occurred to me that there are no peasants in this movie. Where are the peasants? Putting robes on Mr. Darcy's naked body, that's where...

4:10 - In their "elopement", Wickham and Lydia are staying in a sleazy part of London, full of whores and criminals. In Austen's world, there are no upstanding poor people. No Bob Cratchits in her London. I'm thinking that I like Dickens better...

4:13 - The nameless daughter I mentioned earlier is named Kitty.

4:14 - In laying down the law in his household after Lydia's escapades, Mr. Bennett informs his daughters that "Balls will be absolutely prohibited." Is a joke really necessary here?

4:15 - Darcy's on Wickham's trail, and he's dressed like Abe Lincoln...

4:16 - An Express Mail came for Mr. Bennett. Didn't know they had Express Mail back then...

4:20 - The NW considers this whole situation to be vexing.

4:21 - Cristy's sleepy...

4:24 - Wickham and Lydia are marries, and will live in Newcastle. I've got nothing here. Really...

4:25 - Wickham is at least 35. I would probably consider his romantic pursuit of a teenager creepy if the teenager wasn't 30...

4:27 - We discover that Darcy was at the wedding, and bore the expense of it.

4:30 - The newlyweds visit, and Wickham takes the opportunity to hit on Lizzie again. Lizzie's having none of it...

4:32
- Lydia's off.

4:33 - So how long before Jane and Lizzie marry their suitors? Well, we have about a half hour left...

4:34 - Right on cue - "Hey-na, Hey-na, your Bingley's back!"

4:35 - More of Ellen bringing to my attention the virile masculinity of Pride and Prejudice: "See, there's a gun..."

4:36 - Jane's perking up...

4:37 - ...and here come Darcy and Bingley.

4:39 - The girls are fortunate that these guys love 'em, because the NW is trying way too hard...

4:40 - About 20 minutes to go...

4:42 - In hurrying Jane downstairs to see Bingley and hearing something about Kitty, the NW says, "Oh, hang Kitty!" Way to throw your daughter under the carraige...

4:45 - Jane and Bingley down...

4:46 - ...Lizzie and Darcy to go...

4:47 - The NW on Jane's engagement - "I'm sure you could not be so beautiful for nothing..."

4:49 - Lady Catherine is back, and she's not happy...

4:51 - ...because Darcy wants to marry Lizzie, and not his cousin (her daughter). She informs Lizzie that she and Darcy's mother had worked the cousin-marriage out when they were babies in the crib. Ewwww.

4:54 - Lizzie tells off Lady Catherine. Unless she goes back to London to give a piece of her mind to the Slutty Brunette, I think we're about ready for the resolution of the matter...

4:58 - The Big Scene begins...

5:00 - 5 hours later, Lizzie tells Darcy that "You're quite the opposite." About time, I'd say...

5:02 - They're holding hands. That's rather scandalous. Ellen thinks it was the combination of the big house and the wet shirt that won her over. I find it interesting that Lizzie, a crafty and charming girl if there ever was one, was won over by a man who never smiled, was awkward, and yet underneath it all was a good man. Just thought I'd mention this.

5:04 - Sweet father/daughter scene...

5:05 - ...followed by a double wedding with the two happy couples. Didn't see that coming from hours ahead at all...

5:06 - And our parting shot from Cristy Sealy:

"Those pants are tight!"

(Hey Cristy - Eyes up here!)

So that's my diary. A few more thoughts...

I think I survived the 5-hour marathon for a few reasons:

1) Ellen cooked an excellent dinner for us - Jamaican Jerk Flounder, a rice dish, and potatoes. Being well fed makes anything more agreeable.

2) Ellen and Cristy (and later Holly) were an fun to watch it with.

3) Writing this diary kept me engaged.

4) Pride and Prejudice is not that bad. The source material was well-written, it makes fun of rich people, and it came to a satisfying conclusion.

So what did I think of Pride and Prejudice? I thought it was good. I can't say I want to rewatch it repeatedly ad nauseum, but I can understand why others (again, I like to call them "women") do enjoy rewatching it. The characters and situations are not only memorable, they resonate with women who know (or even date) men who strongly resemble those in the movie - The nice guy (Bingley), the intense, brooding loner with a heart of gold (Darcy), the prideful fool (Mr. Collins) and the slimy playa (Wickham). I would compare Pride and Prejudice to Office Space, an eminently rewatchable movie fully relatable to anyone who ever worked in an office.

One last grace note - thanks to Ellen for having me over to watch it. As I said during the movie, I probably owed it to you for all the basketball you watched with us the last couple of weeks, and I don't mind admitting that I enjoyed it (as evidenced in another long, rambling blog entry). Just thought I'd mention that...

4 Comments:

At 11:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a couple of things I like about it that keep it rewatchable for me:

1)even the smartest of women can be idiots. (gentle reminder of my numerous idiot fancies... followed by thankfulness that I am single)

2)Mr. & Mrs. Bennett, another gentle reminder that I prefer single life.

3)It is watchable with women of all generations. (in other words, there's no cussing, no sex, and no awkward makeout scenes that would cause my mother to leave the room, therefore, we can talk.) but it is greatly improved if there is Dove chocolate sitting around and some peppermint tea... P&P provides the avenue for discussion of the history of romance in the older generations of your family....priceless.... not really about the movie so much as the "post" conversation.

-ellen

 
At 7:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa...what a recap.

unfortunately, due to its now complete unwatchability (eyes down there...eeewwww)

I thank you for the stirring imagery evoked by your written prose.

or something.

Two parting shots.

Colin Firth was in Fever Pitch, the great film that was just remade with Jimmy 'i was in taxi' fallon.
...point being, he is now considered cooler the Fallon.

Jennifer Ehle, she played elizabeth...stars in Alpha Male, coming in 2005. Nice career. Ultimate female film of all time...and the possibly most Chauvanistic as well. we'll see.

peace, gabe.

 
At 11:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah shucks, that's my boy and I'm darned proud of him.
Dad
PS: I've watched The Pride And The Predjudice many times at home with Cindy (my wife and Nate's mom) and Laura (my daughter and Nate's younger sister). Each time I've walked away with a tear in my eye and a spiked level of estrogen in my system, allowing me to go an additional two days without shaving.

 
At 2:17 PM, Anonymous Heather said...

Thanks for performing a great service for busy P&P watchers everywhere ("women") -- the P&P digest! Colin-Firth-to-go. When you don't have five hours but you want that P&P feeling.
ok just kidding...I think I may have had a better time (albeit shorter) reading your comments than actually watching the movie. Way to go.
--A friend of a friend

 

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