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Pride and Prejudice The Making of

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I deliver perfection...|and don't brag about it! :D
{y:i}"Pride and Prejudice" is one of|{y:i}the most popular novels in the English language.
{y:i}But how do you turn a classic book|{y:i}into classic television?
{y:i}For this production of "Pride and Prejudice",
{y:i}the overall aim was to be as true as possible|{y:i}to the spirit of Jane Austen's book.
Andrew Davies and I went to a screening
of another Jane Austen. It was about 1986.
We sat together on the back row and watched it,|and it was very good, very quirky.
But afterwards, I remember turning to Andrew|and saying that what I would really love to do
is a version of "Pride and Prejudice",|which is my favourite book...
...and do it in a way that really reflects the book.
When I read the book, with a view to adapting it,|the first thing that came across
was what tremendous speed and energy|the book had.
It goes like a train.|There's something happening on every page.
There's enormous energy|both in the characters and in the action.
People talk about nothing much happening|in Jane Austen.
This book is full of events, full of people|dashing about,
full of people falling in love, breaking their hearts,
eloping with each other,|trying to seduce each other.
And I just thought I wanted to convey|some of this energy in the adaptation.
{y:i}I wanted to get that into the very opening scene.
{y:i}So, instead of taking a scene with Elizabeth,
{y:i}I decided to take the scene in which Bingley and|{y:i}Darcy get their first sight of Netherfield Hall,
{y:i}which would involve them galloping|{y:i}across countryside,
{y:i}and convey that sense of energy|{y:i}right in the opening shot.
- It's a fair prospect.|- Pretty enough, I grant you.
It's nothing to Pemberley, I know.|But I must settle somewhere.
- Have I your approval?|- You'll find the society something savage.
- Country manners? I think they're charming!|- Then you'd better take it.
Thank you! I shall. I shall close|with the attorney directly.
{y:i}To me "Pride and Prejudice"|{y:i}is a very popular book,
and I wanted to make a piece|of popular television.
{y:i}The producer, Sue Birtwistle,|{y:i}oversees the entire production.
{y:i}People are quite often|{y:i}confused about what a producer does.
They can't understand the difference between|a producer and director. A question I often get.
{y:i}But essentially what I would do as producer is...
{y:i}... commission a project, work on the scripts,
{y:i}find a home for it, and then see it through|{y:i}every stage.
This is somewhere|between Pemberley and Netherfield.
I think this is in so many ways absolutely perfect.|It is too old...
{y:i}The director Simon Langton|{y:i}and I would cast it together,
{y:i}and work with the production designing
{y:i}on the concept of it, how the production|{y:i}is going to look.
{y:i}Go to look at locations together,|{y:i}and do all that stage
{y:i}running up to the actual filming of it.
{y:i}Finding the right locations|{y:i}is fundamental to the entire design process.
{y:i}But is design for a period drama more difficult?
{y:i}There isn't a lot of difference|{y:i}between doing period and contemporary.
You're still working on the same problems.
You just have more limited resources|with a period drama.
You obviously have to do much more research.
And you've got more difficulty in spelling out|the characters,
because you have less tools to play with|than you would on a contemporary.
{y:i}And you also have to be very careful|{y:i}as to every shot.
It's just that there's a lot of stuff from there|and stuff from here, people rushing.
Need to keep these lines sort of clear.
{y:i}I start with reading about the social life.
{y:i}If you start from understanding|{y:i}the political situation
in the country at the time,|how people lived and what their incomes were,
{y:i}then everything else grows from that.
That lady, I suppose, is your mother.
Yes, she is. Mamma, this is|Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
- And that, I suppose, is one of your sisters?|- Yes, ma'am.
She is my youngest girl, but one.|My youngest of all is lately married.
You have a very small park here.
And this must be a most inconvenient|sitting-room for the evening in summer.
Why, the windows are full west.
Indeed they are, your ladyship.
But we never sit in here after dinner. We have...
Miss Bennet... there seemed to be a prettyish|kind of little wilderness on one side of your lawn.
I should be glad to take a turn in it...|if you would favour me with your company.
Jane Austen has, like every writer,|her own specific area
that she is particularly concerned with, and...
What we're trying to do is, to re-create her vision.
So we would start from her books, and the|importance that she places on certain things.
There's no point in deviating from that.
{y:i}It's important to get every piece|{y:i}of furniture exactly right for the filming.
Right. Well, let's try it.
- The three of us have to sit in a line.|- Plenty of room.
And this one?
I hope three make room.
That's a bit snug, isn't it?|We'd better use the other one.
I had hoped to condole with your poor father|and your mother.
Our father is still in London, sir, and our mother|is not yet well enough to leave her room.
{y:i}I think the locations|{y:i}have to be found exactly right.
{y:i}They convey such a lot of information.
{y:i}The kind of cosy domesticity
in the natural scale of the Bennet household.|And then you see Netherfield,
{y:i}and realise that there are much richer people|{y:i}in the story.
{y:i}And then, finally,
you see the absolute splendours of Pemberley,
and realise that Elizabeth has been proposed to|by a man who owns most of Derbyshire.
And the park, which is so big|that you can't even see the house!
I think we've seen woods and groves enough|to satisfy even your enthusiasm for them, Lizzy.
I confess I had no idea Pemberley|was such a great estate.
- Shall we reach the house itself before dark?|- Be patient, wait.
Stop the coach!
I think one would be willing to put up|with a good deal to be mistress of Pemberley.
The mistress of Pemberley will have to put up|with a good deal, from what I hear.
She's not likely to be anyone "we" know.
- How do you like the house, Lizzy?|- Very well.
I don't think I've ever seen a place|so happily situated.
I like it very well indeed.
...really has to be "the" most beautiful place.
It's not particularly ostentatious.
{y:i}It's showing great taste, it's got to show history,|{y:i}it has to show a lineage that goes back.
It's supposed to really be the epitome of all|that is good about the aristocracy at that time.
{y:i}Rosings is the opposite.|{y:i}Rosings is probably more flamboyant, large,
but over the top. This is a character we don't|like so much.
{y:i}Hunsford has to be a small, modest parsonage,
but with pretensions to grandeur,
and a certain amount of fussiness about it,|to reflect Mr Collins.
{y:i}Longbourn, the Bennet's house, is really just|{y:i}a comfortable family house,
{y:i}with no particular pretensions to anything,
{y:i}so we key the characters to that.
{y:i}We try to find the houses that go with it,|{y:i}the gardens that go with it, the carriages,
the furniture, the decorations,|that all add to that image.
In terms of the design for somewhere|like Meryton...
...we can choose our level of reality.
{y:i}And we can choose the level directly relevant|{y:i}to the book and the piece that we're doing.
{y:i}So on this occasion we'll concentrate more|{y:i}on the jolly aspects,
{y:i}the handsome soldiers, the socialising|{y:i}and the shops.
{y:i}We won't be dwelling on poverty,
{y:i}we won't be dwelling on any of|{y:i}the sort of real, solid, hard-edged
aspects of rural life.
Because it's not an area that Jane Austen|was particularly interested in.
We see Meryton through the eyes|of her characters.
{y:i}Costumes are also influenced by|{y:i}how each character comes across in the book.
- Shall we be quite safe here, Mr Darcy?|- Damn silly way to spend an evening.
Miss Bingley would never|have been seen in a print dress.
She would have always worn silk|or very fine embroidered muslin.
We also gave Miss Bingley very, very big feathers,
although Anna Chancellor is over six foot,
in order to emphasise her haughtiness|and her high social standing,
because she just wanted to look as posh|and as snobby as possible.
{y:i}To get a real sense of the characters|{y:i}I read the book and the script,
{y:i}to have a detailed knowledge|{y:i}of how they developed throughout the book,
so that I can start to understand|how they would dress.
Casting... It's a truism to say casting is important.
It's probably the most important aspect|of the whole production process.
Particularly for a book that is so well-known.
Because, unlike other novels which have been|adapted and successfully done,
"Pride and Prejudice" is,|I think I'm right in saying,
is one of, if not "the" most widely read|classical novel in the English language.
If we've got Alison and Ben|as Mr and Mrs Bennet...
{y:i}So there is even more enhanced responsibility
{y:i}on the part of the casting process,|{y:i}to get those people absolutely right.
We're very keen to have David Bamber|as Mr Collins.
When we first auditioned David Bamber|for Mr Collins,
I'd thought he was the ideal person for this job|and he proved it when he came in to audition,
because he performed the proposal scene,|and he did it completely seriously,
{y:i}which is the only way it works.
My reasons for marrying are, first,
that I think it a right thing for every clergyman|to set the example of matrimony in his parish.
Secondly, that I am convinced it will add|very greatly to my happiness.
And thirdly... which, perhaps,|I should have mentioned first,
that it is the particular recommendation of|my noble patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
"Mr Collins", she said, "you must marry".
"Choose properly", she said.|"Choose a gentlewoman for my sake,
and for your own, let her be an active, useful|sort of person. Not brought up too high."
"Find such a woman as soon as you can,|bring her to Hunsford, and I will visit her."
In approaching the character,
what I'm attempting to do,
as opposed to what I'm achieving,
is to show a contrast between|the pre-proposal Collins when he first arrives,
which, in the case of this adaptation,|is in episode 2,
and the post-proposal,
which is really when you see him|in Rosings Park and at Hunsford Parsonage.
Observe that closet, cousin Elizabeth.|What do you say to that?
Is it not the very essence of practicality|and convenience?
Lady Catherine de Bourgh herself was kind|enough to suggest
that these shelves be fitted|as you see them here.
Shelves in the closet. Happy thought indeed.
{y:i}I think that in the Rosings|{y:i}scenes I've shown more of a servile,
rather dark and sardonic and unpleasant character.
{y:i}Alison Steadman|{y:i}is an extraordinary actress.
{y:i}I've always thought that, and we thought that.
{y:i}I've admired her intensely|{y:i}for all the various films she's done.
{y:i}And this is admittedly a slight risk.|{y:i}As she's probably said herself,
it's a completely new avenue for her talents.
When we did go to the read-through... The start|of the read-through is always very nerve-racking,
I think there was something like|a hundred people there...
...and she almost starts the dialogue off.
She attacked it like a bolting chariot,|it was most extraordinary.
Confined, unvarying! I would have him know|we dine with four and twenty families!
As an actress I am constantly on the lookout|for fun roles.
Things that are going to be interesting|and give me plenty of scope to be creative.
Mamma, have you seen|Charlotte Lucas since I came away?
Yes, she called yesterday with Sir William.
What an agreeable man he is.
That is my idea of good breeding.|And those who fancy themselves very important,
and never open their mouths,|quite mistake the matter!
When I was offered this part,|I hadn't read the book.
So I first of all read the book|and then read the script,
and of course, as soon as I read it,|I could hear the voice of Mrs Bennet.
She just comes off the page. So beautifully|written. The character is all there.
It's all there! It's like a box of chocolates|you're just ready to dive into.
And I just couldn't resist.
Mr Bennet! You are wanted immediately.
We are all in uproar!
You must come and make Lizzy marry Mr Collins.|She vows she will not have him,
and if you do not make haste, Mr Collins will|change his mind and he will not have her!
I have not the pleasure of understanding you.|Of what are you talking?
Of Mr Collins and Lizzy!
Lizzy declares she will not have Mr Collins, and|Mr Collins begins to say he will not have Lizzy.
Well, what am I to do on the occasion?|Seems a hopeless business.
Speak to Lizzy about it!
Tell her you insist upon her marrying him!
Let her come in.
I particularly wanted Colin Firth to play Darcy.
Some people thought it was an odd choice, and I|think Colin himself thought it was an odd choice.
He, in fact, said no at the beginning,|and I absolutely had to insist
{y:i}that he'd think again and do it,|{y:i}for him to take the part.
{y:i}He said he eventually realised that if anybody|{y:i}else played the part, he'd be immensely jealous
{y:i}because the part had taken over him.
{y:i}He's an amazing actor.
{y:i}Physically, himself, he doesn't actually|{y:i}look like Darcy,
{y:i}but I think you'd agree,|{y:i}or I hope most people would agree,
that he looks incredibly like Darcy|when he's playing Darcy.
{y:i}This scene gives the impression|{y:i}that Colin Firth, as Darcy,
{y:i}gets soaked in the lake at Pemberley.
{y:i}In actual fact, this isn't quite true.
{y:i}The scene is put together using lots of|{y:i}different shots,
{y:i}which sometimes requires several takes|{y:i}from different angles.
{y:i}So the film crew doesn't want Colin to get wet|{y:i}too quickly.
{y:i}He does dive, but not into the lake.
{y:i}It's onto this blue mattress.
{y:i}Meanwhile, his stunt double|{y:i}is about to jump in the lake.
{y:i}All under the watchful eye of these professional|{y:i}divers, here to take care of everyone's safety.
{y:i}Colin did get to swim under water,
{y:i}but this sequence was filmed on a different day,|{y:i}using a special water tank.
{y:i}Even if they don't always do|{y:i}their own stunts,
{y:i}actors in period dramas|{y:i}like "Pride and Prejudice"
{y:i}may be required to demonstrate|{y:i}other talents, like dancing.
{y:i}Dances were immensely|{y:i}important at this time.
{y:i}They gave an opportunity for young men|{y:i}and women to meet,
and to court, if you like.|So they were always eagerly awaited.
I started by re-reading the book,
and marking|all the points where dance is mentioned,
and dances are mentioned|and dancers are mentioned.
Also, I marked all the places where they bow|and they curtsey and they reverence,
and they come and they go, and they show their|social manners, how they behaved at that time.
{y:i}These English country dances|{y:i}that you see in "Pride and Prejudice"
{y:i}were danced in the country houses|{y:i}and in the court.
{y:i}"Mr Beveridge's Maggot"|{y:i}is a supreme example of that.
{y:i}It has this harmony which almost reflects
the architecture, the furniture|and the landscape gardening of the time.
{y:i}There's a reflection in their relationship.
I remember hearing you once say|that you hardly ever forgave.
That your resentment, once created, was|implacable. You are very careful, are you not?
- Allowing your resentment to be created.|- I am.
{y:i}There's almost an intellectual|{y:i}fight between them.
{y:i}At the same time there's something totally|{y:i}harmonious happening between them physically.
And never allow yourself to be blinded|by prejudice?
I hope not. May I ask to what|these questions tend?
Merely to the illustration of your character.|I'm trying to make it out.
- And what is your success?|- I do not get on at all.
I hear such different accounts of you|as to puzzle me exceedingly.
{y:i}You should feel, when you look at the dance,
that these are two people who are going to,|at some point, really get on extremely well.
{y:i}Editing is the third aspect|{y:i}of the whole production process.
You have pre-production, the actual production|itself, and then you have post-production,
which is almost entirely editing. It's the editing|process and how you put it together.
{y:i}You can change the whole focus of a scene,
{y:i}simply by staying on one shot|{y:i}one second longer than another.
{y:i}The beauty of the love between Darcy
and Elizabeth is that it is held back.|Almost to the last moment.
{y:i}And it's the timing of the shots|{y:i}between the two of them.
{y:i}Too long in either way would have made it|{y:i}self-conscious, but it's not. It's just right.
{y:i}I think, as far as music is concerned,
{y:i}actually, what you do, in a sense,|{y:i}is provide a fourth dimension.
{y:i}Something which is not said or seen|{y:i}in terms of the visual action,
{y:i}but something more abstract
which is thought and hinted at.
You can ruin it by making it too strong,|too obvious.
But you can help it by just, in some mysterious|way, keeping it going in a romantic sense.
Please allow me to thank you|on behalf of all my family,
since they don't know to whom they are indebted.
If you will thank me, let it be for yourself alone.
Your family owes me nothing.
As much as I respect them,|I believe I thought only of you.
You're too generous to trifle with me. If your|feelings are what they were last April, tell me so.
My affections and wishes are unchanged.
But one word from you will silence me|on this subject forever.
Oh, my feelings... my feelings are...
I'm ashamed to remember what I said then.
My feelings are so different.
In fact...
...they are quite the opposite.
Oh, it's a lovely book.
It's a classic love story.
Even the fellows on the unit who don't really|normally like much period drama,
they've all read it and think it's wonderful.|They couldn't put it down.
I've had a few of the prop-men|saying "Oh, it's great!"
We all hope that we've done justice|to this fantastic book of Jane Austen.
This fantastic story.
We've all gone to a lot of trouble, not only from|the acting department, but every department.
The design of the costumes, and the wigs,|if necessary, and the make-up.
We're not allowed to wear|any make-up and mascara,
which has been quite a shock to some of us,|not to be able to put a flick of mascara on,
but we've tried to stick to it absolutely|and make it as real and authentic as possible.
I've read it now hundreds of times,|but every single time
I wait to see if Elizabeth and Darcy|are going to get together.
I still suspend my disbelief until that moment,|and I long for them, for it to work out.
So it is the best romance.
P S 2004
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