November 20, 2007
| by Marshal Rosenthal
Consider author Jane Austen a “brand.” But unlike a GM or a McDonald’s, her products (novels) never become obsolete or need refreshing. It’s her understanding of the human condition which continues to attract filmmakers as well as readers, and this incarnation of “Pride & Prejudice” has all the makings for a great film in high-def.
Now for those who don’t know the story, let’s just say highly opinionated Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are in for quite an emotional roller coaster before it all gets sorted out. Even the most hardened action fan will succumb to the brilliant dialogue and very human interactions. Both are aided by the youthful exuberance of the main characters, the sumptuous 19th century sets, and camera work that takes the business and pace of life in the romantic age seriously.
HD brings us a bit closer to this world. Considering how important characters are to this story, it’s only fitting that close-ups are lovingly captured, and that there’s an attention to detail found in the locations as well as the characters. We’re so used to having HD bring a “hard” aspect to the reality of a film that it might be forgotten that the technique can make the other side just as true: enabling an ethereal view to another era that can capture and hold the imagination through a fine palette of colors and an exacting contrast that can subtly creep up on you. As example, Kiera Knightly’s portrayal of Elizabeth finds her so radiant that at times you wonder just how translucent skin can be. And in one scene it’s a toss up as to what is more lovely, her or the misty-laid field she travels in.
Sound is also playing its part - keeping the dialogue up front so that it is intimate and yet never muffled, with surround and other such effects delegated to adding to the mood when called upon (such as during a thunderstorm or the swish of dancers twirling around at a party). But it’s all handled with gentility and grace, not harshness. The real advantage of the Dolby TrueHD in this case coming from its ability to more positively match the filmmakers consideration of how his film should sound and conveying this for home viewing.
Additions to the film include an audio commentary by the director along with featurettes on the writer and the times that drove the era. Also included is a conversation with the cast - all in standard resolution. Plus a next-gen feature called “My Scenes” that lets you organize a grouping of clips from the film in the order you prefer and then watch them.