I am the featured blogger on the first and second Wednesdays of each month on the Blogger platform for Western Fictioneers and Prairie Rose Publications.
I’m reposting truncated versions of those articles for my Hello, Friday! posts on those two weeks. Today’s partial repost is from the Prairie Rose Publication’s blog of Nov. 8th.
November Movie Dance Scene
Name of Movie: Pride and Prejudice (2005) Kiera Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen
Pride and Prejudice (1995) Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle
Historical Time Period: Regency
Occasion/Purpose: Socializing, Courting, Courtship Ritual
Types of Dances: English Country Dance aka Contra Dancing
I love the 2005 theatrical film and the 1995 television mini-series equally well.
Kiera Knightly as the independent thinking and ‘everyone woman’ Elizabeth Bennett appeals to my admiration for that type of portrayal of Elizabeth Bennett. Ms. Knightly’s Elizabeth Bennett appears in clothing indicative of a family of somewhat modest means. The family’s house shows signs of wear and disrepair. The sight of the pig walking through the house suggests the family lives in somewhat of an earthy we-do-what-we-must-to-get-by life, yet, we don’t have the impression they are poor. They live a modest, but never-without, existence that stays true throughout the movie.
Contrast that Elizabeth Bennett with the one portrayed by Jennifer Ehle in the mini-series. This Elizabeth is a more refined, socially proper Elizabeth Bennett. There is an overall impression of greater wealth and privilege within the Bennett family (in clothing, household furnishings, etc.), which is evident throughout the movie.
Matthew Macfadyen and Colin Firth each took aspects of Mr. Darcy’s character and made the character their own. For that, I admire them both equally.
I will say that Colin Firth’s dip into the pond and subsequent wet-shirt walk toward his house is not a scene in the book, but who cares. I don’t. Colin Firth dripping wet is a sight to savor.
Matthew Macfadyen’s scene at the end of the movie as he walks across the foggy pasture at daylight toward Elizabeth and then his proposal is not to be missed. In fact, watch that scene on repeat.
I digressed. Onward to the dancing…
The movie dance scene for November is not a particular dance scene. It is the dance itself. Consequently, extracting one scene from the movie to illustrate how the filmmakers showed us the relationship between two characters in a manner that is more effective than simple dialogue is an impossible task. Everything about dancing is wrapped around the heart of this story.
Without dancing, there is no story. Dancing is so critical to the story, that we are treated to the first dance within a few minutes of watching. Ballroom dancing wasn’t called ballroom dancing at the time. People attended Balls (private parties) and Assemblies (public parties), where they danced to a variety of popular English Country Dances. At the time, dancing was the only way to spend time with members of the opposite sex. Passing touches, occasional hand-holding, and speaking to that special someone without an adult listening to every word was exciting.
“Dance” in Pride and Prejudice is its own character . Dance personifies the societal mores of the time:
- the physical act of dancing (knowing the steps and performing them correctly)
- thinking about dancing
- talking about dancing
- preparing for a dancing
- reminiscing about dancing
- the etiquette of dancing
- the purpose of dancing (courtship, courtship ritual)
To be fond of dancing was a certain step toward falling in love.
Dancing, whether attending a lavish ball or a more intimate, private dance, served several purposes during this time. A refusal or reluctance to dance showed that person’s lack of good/acceptable character. The characters in the story reveal their true natures during these social events. In addition, a person’s worth was on display via their individual performance on the dance floor.
Sir William Lucas explains, “I consider dancing as one of the first refinements of polished societies.”
Dancing, as an acceptable and approved social activity, was a means of public and appropriate courting, and it was expected that those who traveled in certain social circles would attend balls and parties for the ultimate goal of showing themselves as suitable dancing partners, which suggested they were also suitable for courting, and then, presumably, mutual satisfaction in marriage would follow.
For a man to dance with a woman more than once in the evening was a sign of his romantic, and presumably marriageable, interest in the lady.
Mrs. Bennet says of her eldest daughter, Jane, “”Only think of that my dear; he actually danced with her twice; and she was the only creature in the room that he asked a second time.”
It is impossible to adequately explain how critical dancing is to this story. So, please, if you’ve never read Pride and Prejudice, I urge you to do so. It is doubly a delightful reading experience and a study of human nature. At the very least, treat yourself to watching both the 1995 miniseries and the 2005 theatrical movie.
The mini-series stays fairly true to the story. The mini-series format lends itself to including the finer details about the historical time period with more in depth experience of the dancing scenes.
While the 2005 movie truncates the story, as it must due to time constraints, it stays true t the story and it is an exceptionally well-done and well-crafted version. I am not at all disappointed in the two-hour movie experience over the mini-series version of five and a half hours.
However, because I’ve included a dance scene in all of the other movies in this series, I’ve chosen the one scene that captures a moment so exquisitely, so perfectly that, if you blink, you’ll miss it. This is the moment that Mr. Darcy sees Elizabeth Bennett at a dance. We know in that instant that Elizabeth has ‘bewitched him body and soul…’
This clip also serves the purposes of showing us the Bennett sisters talking about the men at the dance, getting a feel for the dance as a social event, enjoying the visual pleasure of seeing the period costumes and the historical setting, and offering us a glimpse of the dances of the time. Mr. Darcy is introduced to the movie at this point. We can tell by his surly demeanor, his stern expression, and his stiff body language that he does not want to be there.
Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth see each other face-to-face for the first time in this clip. Watch closely from 0:48 to 0:53 for ‘The Moment’ that changes Mr. Darcy forever.
Until we meet again,