Pride & Prejudice DVD Review
PicturePride and Prejudice is presented is a glorious 2.35:1 aspect ratio anamorphically enhanced widescreen transfer that showcases the sumptuous countryside and lavish sets in all their glory. Detail is decent throughout, with constant clarity and negligible softness. Edge enhancement is kept to a minimum and, whilst there is a little grain in some of the darker-lit sequences, it never interferes with your viewing pleasure. The colour scheme perfectly represents the landscapes and is rich with browns and vivid greens. Aside from the odd and very noticeable CGI shots, the rain looks good and the blacks are solid, allowing or decent shadowing. Overall the transfer is very good quality indeed and has no signs of any print damage whatsoever, which is only as you would expect for such a recent production.
SoundThe main soundtrack is a decent Dolby Digital 5.1 effort, with dialogue a tiny bit soft but nonetheless audible, often swamped by the enthusiastic score and even by the effects coverage. Although you might not expect many effects from this kind of production - by its very nature it does not have the benefit of gunshots or explosions - the period atmosphere is keenly evoked by observation of every minor detail, from town bells to birds tweeting (at one point I could have sworn there was a parrot in my living room), cutlery clinking to the rain thrashing down. Aside from the effects, which have the benefit of the full surround array, the quaint but evocative score pervades the movie whenever required. It is a nice and perfectly suitable aural accompaniment to this release.
ExtrasFirst up we get a full-length Audio Commentary from Director Joe Wright. Talking in detail about the origins of the production (both how he got involved in the project and how the book came into existence in the first place), he gives us both scene-specific contemporaneous offerings (that are far more technical and dry) and a few of background anecdotes about the on-set antics. He tells us about many of the changes made, both to the original story and to the original cut of the movie, explaining how this adaptation was specifically designed to focus more acutely on the central character, Lizzie. Taken in parts, or accepted whilst relaxing with it in the background, this commentary is quite a nice, interesting offering for fans of the production and its heritage.
A Bennet Family Portrait is a six-minute Featurette looking at the family that is at the heart of this particular tale. With brief interjections from key cast and crew members (including the Director and the Screenwriter, as well as Knightley herself and the other Bennets), this Featurette is shamefully padded out by footage from the final movie and an irritating and pointless narration by voice-over man and it unfortunately has very little additional information to offer about the production, other than a few light opinions about the relevance of the story in modern (often marriage-less) times.
The Jane Austen: Ahead of her Time Featurette is eight minutes long and has voice-over man once again (unnecessarily) guiding us through the proceedings, this time looking at the author Austen and her somewhat revolutionary take on characters and stories. Many crew members (and relevant experts) pop up, along with Knightley again, each praising Austen for her acute observations of human behaviour and ability to paint pictures that are simply timeless. We also get a brief look at Austen's own personal history, rounding off a nice little Featurette that is far less fluffy than the first offering.
The Behind the Scenes at the Ball Featurette takes a six-minute look at the production, initially focussing on the actresses who brought the five Bennet sisters to life, with behind the scenes footage of them all fooling around on set, each one of the girls offering their own opinion and Donald Sutherland and Matthew MacFayden popping up to round out the proceedings. There is a generous amount of fairly revealing background footage in this Featurette, for which final film clips are thankfully thin on the ground.
The Pride and Prejudice: HBO First Look Featurette is a horribly fluffy, thirteen minute promotional affair that compiles the best bits from both the movie and the other Featurettes. Little more than an extended DVD trailer, it has no end of footage from the movie itself, with interview snippets from the cast and crew that simply offer nothing extra that you would not have already gleamed from watching the film and the rest of the extras. The brief set-visits do not make this worth your time and the horrible voice-over narration (this time by a smug lady) grates almost instantly. You won't be missing out on anything by skipping this addition.
Finally there are Previews on disc start-up, including trailers for the Scottish drama On a Clear Day, the Uma Thurman / Meryl Streep romantic comedy Prime, the Patricia Arquette TV series Medium and the acclaimed Ang Lee Western Brokeback Mountain.
VerdictPride and Prejudice is a classic period tale of love that should be but may never be. With lovely settings, lavish sets, rich characters and suitably strong performances, this new interpretation has rightly wooed audiences across the globe. Coming to us glistening with a superior transfer and decent audio track, along with some interesting extras, it will hopefully find a home in everybody's DVD collection and, potentially, everybody's heart.
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