Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Below are images from "THE SHADOW RIDERS", the 1982 adaptation of Louis L'Amour's novel. Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, the movie starred Tom Selleck, Sam Elliot, Katherine Ross and Jeff Osterhage:
"THE SHADOW RIDERS" (1982) Image Gallery
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Below is a list of my five favorite episodes from Season One of "STAR TREK DEEP SPACE NINE". Created by Rick Berman and Michael Piller; the series starred Avery Brooks as Commander Benjamin Siesko:
FIVE FAVORITE EPISODES OF "STAR TREK DEEP SPACE NINE" SEASON ONE (1993)
1. (1.19) "Duet" - Deep Space Nine's executive officer and former Bajoran freedom fighter, Major Kira Nerys, suspects a visiting Cardassian to be the notorious war criminal Gul Darhe'el, butcher of Gallitep Labor camp.
2. (1.01-1.02) "Emissary" - Starfleet officer, Commander Benjamin Sisko arrives at the newly freed Deep Space Nine station to command a joint Federation/Bajoran force. His life is changed when a wormhole is discovered near the station and he is declared the Emissary to the Prophets by a Bajoran priest.
3. (1.20) "In the Hands of the Prophets" - In this charged season finale, friction escalates on the station when the Federation and Bajoran inhabitants clash over Federation schoolteacher Keiko O'Brien's lessons that the aliens in the newly discovered wormhole are aliens - a topic that the Bajorans find blasphemous.
4. (1.08) "Dax" - The station's science officer Lieutenant Jadzia Dax finds herself accused of a murder committed by her symbiont in another lifetime.
5. (1.05) "Babel" - A mysterious virus plagues Deep Space Nine, causing speech distortions and death.
Sunday, January 6, 2019
"CROSSROADS OF THE FORCE"
OUTSKIRTS OF SALIS D'AAR, BAKURA
Inside Padme Amidala Skywalker's well-decorated study, the holographic image of Bail Organa illuminated from a small holoemitter on her desk. "The conference will be held on Ord Montell. We hope that you will be able to attend."
"Ord Mantell?" Padme inhaled sharply at the mention of the planet. "That sounds like a military post."
Bail's image shrugged. "It used to be during the Clone Wars. Now, it is basically a haven for smugglers and traders. Mon, Garm and I believe it should be safe from Imperial scrutiny."
Padme continued, "But the reason for this conference . . . why?"
The Alderaanian sighed. "Because we feel that the time has arrived for the Alliance to finally organize. It's time, Padme. You had even said so, during your last visit to Alderaan."
Following her flight from Bail's homeworld ten years ago, Padme and her young family had ended up at the Lars' moisture farm on Tatooine. Owen and Beru Lars gave the Skywalker-Nabierre family refuge until Bail found a permanent home for the latter on Bakura, three months later. She and the children eventually settled in a three-story villa located in the outskirts of Bakura's capital, Salis D'Aar. The villa reminded her of the one she and Anakin had visited on Varykino Island, fourteen years ago. Instead of a lake, her present home stood above the banks of the West River.
The Outer Rim planet proved to be a pleasant home for Padme and her family. It was far enough to avoid the Empire's attention. Although it did not seem as sophisticated as Naboo or Alderaan, it did boast a fine culture that included a national symphony and several beautiful cities - including the capital, Salis D'Aar. Padme only had one complaint about Bakura - the feud between the planet's upper class and political body that threatened to develop into a civil war. She feared that if it grew any worse, the Empire might intervene. Bakura's pastoral climate gave Luke and Leia the opportunity to develop into healthy and lively eleven year-olds. And the planet's isolation gave Padme the opportunity to form contacts with various cells rebelling against the Empire, in neighboring systems.
"Yes, I know Bail," Padme continued. "But Ord Mantell? Why not the Averam System?"
Bail shook his head. "Not safe enough. It is too close to Coruscant. And the Empire has kept a close eye upon it in recent years."
Padme sighed. "All right. When do we meet?"
"A week from now," Bail replied. "At the Hotel Grand in Le Yer." He hesitated. "If you don't mind, Padme, I feel it would be best if I escort you to the conference. We can rendezvous . . . somewhere other than Bakura."
An idea came to Padme. "Why not Tatooine? The children, Madga and the droids can stay with Owen and Beru. Perhaps we can meet in . . . five days?"
Bail nodded. "Sounds like an excellent idea. I will see you in five days." His holographic image disappeared. Padme switched off her emitter.
The 38 year-old senator rose to her feet and made her way to the villa's garden. There, she found the twins engaged in some kind of art project. "What is this?" she asked merrily. "A new project?"
"Sort of," the blond-haired Luke replied. "It's a present for Madga's birthday. A holographic statue of one of Alderaan's famous animals, the Thranta." It amazed Padme how much her son reminded her of Anakin from twenty-four years ago - the same dark-blond hair, lively blue eyes and engaging manner. Only Luke seemed to have inherited her introverted temper.
Padme smiled at her children. "That's quite lovely, Luke. I'm sure that Madga would appreciate it." In fact, Padme suspected that the Alderaanian-born nurse would adore the present. Although Madga had eagerly volunteered to accompany the Skywalkers to Tatooine and Bakura, her first ten months away from Alderaan had been lonely. Madga did not meet any new friends until a week after the Skywalkers' arrival on Bakura.
"She would appreciate it if Luke only had the right coordinates in the program," Leia caustically added.
Luke glared at his twin sister. "What do you mean? I'm using the right coordinates."
Leia shot back, "No, you're not! If you turn on the holoemitter, you won't have the image of the Thranta. You'll just have some animal that doesn't exist!"
Padme winced inwardly at her daughter's sharp tone. The eleven year-old Leia almost seemed like a copy of her younger self - same dark hair, large brown eyes, and the same pragmatic and reserved nature. Yet, Leia had also inherited her father's sharp manner and quick temper. In a deeper way, the young girl could easily be described as her father's child.
"How would you know?" Luke demanded. "We haven't finished."
"Uh . . . children," Padme said, cautiously interrupting. "I need to . . ." But the twins ignored her and continued their quarrel. Padme decided to utilize more force. "Enough!" she finally cried, drawing stares from the twins. "That's enough! You two can fight, later. I have something to tell you." She glanced around the garden. "Where are Madga and the droids? Never mind. I'll tell them later."
Leia frowned. "Tell them what?"
Padme took a deep breath. "I will be going away for a few days. It's regarding an important business matter. Since this is the first time we will be separated, I feel it would be best if I left you two with your Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru on Tatooine."
Luke whooped with joy. "Great! I'll get to see Biggs!"
"Oh no!" Leia bewailed. "Mother! Not Tatooine!"
"What's wrong with Tatooine?" Luke demanded.
Leia rolled her eyes. "Oh come on, Luke! It's boring. Even you think so."
"Maybe. But at least I'll get to see Biggs." During one of their many trips to Tatooine over the past decade, Luke had managed to befriend the young son of a local landowner named Darkstar. Leia's closest friend happened to be the late Sheltay Retrac's only child, an Alderaanian girl named Winter.
The young girl retorted, "Great! And what about me? Winter lives on Alderaan. And I don't know anyone on Tatooine. Except for Aunt Beru. And she's . . ." She broke off, as her eyes widened in horror. "I didn't mean . . ."
Padme sighed. "I understand, Leia. I don't expect an eleven year-old girl to become close friends with the wife of a moisture farmer. But you must also remember that Luke has never been that comfortable on Alderaan. And I feel that it would best if you two stay on Tatooine. It is farther from . . ."
". . . the Emperor," Leia finished. "Yeah, I know." She sighed. "How long are we going to be there?"
Casting a sympathetic glance at her daughter, Padme answered, "At least four or five days. I'm certain that you will find a way to endure."
Luke snickered, earning a glare from his sister.
"Well, I best find Madga and the droids," Padme continued. "And you two can continue your . . . project." She added pointedly, "Without fighting." Then Padme turned away and began searching for her servants.
OFFICE OF THE GRAND VIZER, CORUSCANT
"They're all here."
The Senate's Grand Vizer nodded. "Show them in," he ordered his aide. Of medium height, Sate Pestage was a thin, craggy-faced human with an aquiline nose that has caught the attention of many upon introduction.
Pestage had served as the leader or Grand Vizer of the Imperial Senate upon Senator Mas Amedda's "mysterious disapperance", nine years ago. The Nabooan had originally served as Palpatine's aide from the moment the latter first became involved in politics as a minor functionary on Naboo. He sat behind his imposing desk, while five other senators filed into his office. They quickly occupied the chairs situated in a semi-circle in front of Pestage's desk. "Good afternoon, everyone," he greeted quietly.
"Your Excellency," one of the senators replied. It was Senator Ronet Coorr of Iseno. "What can we do for you?"
Pestage cleared his throat before he continued, "Pardon me for interrupting your plans to depart for your homeworlds, senators. I realize that the Senate is no longer in session, but I have something to ask of you. Naturally, you have heard of the disaster that had befallen Volmtrak? The Accom River flood?" He noticed the vague expressions on the senators' faces.
"I'm not sure if I've ever heard of the Volmtrak System," Senator Paddie of Semeria declared.
With a patient smile, Pestage explained, "Volmtrak is a moon. Volmtagge's moon to be exact. And Volmtagge is located in the Velm Sector. Which I believe is where your homeworlds are located, ladies and gentlemen. Or located nearby."
Zoebeida Dahlma of Maldare heaved an impatient sigh. “Pardon me, Your Excellency, but please get to the point. We all have busy schedules.” The other senators murmured in agreement.
Pestage leaned back into his chair and grunted. “Yes. Well . . . if you must know, the Emperor believes that a committee should be formed to coordinate aid for the Volmtrak disaster.” The Grand Vizer reveled in his visitors’ astounded expressions. Apparently, they seemed surprised that the Emperor would even consider such an act. Fortunately, they did not know about Palpatine’s true object behind this act of mercy. “Is there a problem? You all seem . . . surprised.”
“Pardon our reaction, Your Excellency,” Paddie commented, “but this is the first time I have ever heard of the Emperor organizing relief for a disaster. Is there a reason why Volmtrak is so important to him?”
Mustering every ounce of guile he possessed, Pestage lied. “It is just as you had hinted, Senator. The Emperor has spent the last decade trying to bring order throughout the galaxy – dealing with the last remnants of the Separatist movement and tracking down renegade Jedi. We . . . I mean, the Emperor has been regrettably amiss in dealing with other calamities faced by the galaxy’s citizens. The Emperor believes that it is time for him to face these calamities . . . starting with Volmtrak. He would appreciate it if the five of you would form a committee, visit the disaster area and organize relief for Volmtrak’s citizens.”
“I would be more than happy to accommodate the Emperor’s wishes,” Senator Coorr said. Pestage smiled at the tall and very pale human. Coorr had been a loyal supporter of Palpatine since joining the Senate before the start of the Clone Wars.
Pestage smiled at his eager colleague. “Thank you, Senator Coorr.” He faced the other four senators. “And the rest of you?”
One by one, Paddie and two other senators followed Coorr’s example. Only one abstained – Senator Dahlma of Maldare. “When does the Emperor want us to visit Volmtrak?” she demanded.
Slowly, Pestage turned his head to stare at Maldare’s premier senator. “In two days. Is there a problem?”
“I’m afraid so,” Dahlma replied. “My cousin has recently passed away. And I plan to attend the funeral.”
Typical, Pestage thought. Zoebeida Dahlma had never been a fervent supporter of the Emperor. Her name had even been on that treacherous Petition of 2000 for a brief period around the end of the Clone Wars. Why the Emperor had not driven her from the Senate or eliminate her, Pestage did not know. “I don’t understand,” the Grand Vizer said with a frown. “You would choose to attend some distant relative’s funeral over service for the Emperor?”
Senator Dahlma stiffened slightly. “My cousin and I had been very close,” she coolly retorted. “It would be a disservice to her memory for me to choose politics over a beloved relative.”
Pestage became immediately contrite. “Pardon me, Senator Dahlma. I did not mean to be insensitive.”
“And pardon me for my . . . flash of temper,” the Maldarian senator responded in a gracious tone. “But you must understand that I come from a close knit family. However, I will be more than happy to visit Volmstak upon my return. While I’m home, I might be able to convince the Lalji Corporation to donate aid to the Volmstak victims.”
Senator Paddie commented, “That sounds like an excellent idea.”
But Pestage did not hear the Semerian senator. He felt disturbed by Senator Dahlma’s refusal of the Emperor’s request. But since the Maldarian senator had offered to join the committee at a later time and raise funds, he decided that he could be magnanimous. “I suppose that will do,” he coolly replied. Then he gave Dahlma a wide smile. “Welcome to the Volmstak Relief Committee, Senator!”
Dahlma returned the Nabooan’s smile. While the Grand Vizer continued to discuss the disaster with the five senators, he wondered how the Emperor would respond.
IMPERIAL PALACE, CORUSCANT
“How interesting,” the Emperor Palpatine coolly remarked. “I have never known for Senator Dahlma to ignore offering aid to disaster victims. You say that there has been a death in her family?”
Pestage shifted uncomfortably from one foot to the other. “According to Senator Dahlma, a favorite cousin. They were very close.”
“Really?” Palpatine turned his chair away from the Senate’s leader. His gaze focused upon a Sith artifact situated on a small pedestal, behind his desk. “I do not recall Senator Dahlma being close to any particular member of her family. In fact, I could have sworn that she was estranged from her family, due to a political conflict. So . . . she has refused to serve on the committee?”
After a brief interruption, Pestage replied, “No, she did not, Your Highness. Instead, she has volunteered to visit Volmtak . . . after attending her cousin’s funeral. And she plans to request aid from the Lalji Corporation.”
“How generous of her,” Palpatine murmured. “Well . . . thank you for your report, Pestage.” The Grand Vizer bowed and left the Imperial office.
Palpatine’s gaze returned to the Sith artifact, when another figure entered. “Have a seat, Lord Rasche.”
The Emperor swerved his chair around for the second time to see his apprentice sit down in the chair previously occupied by Sate Pestage. “Master,” the Sith apprentice greeted. “How may I help you?”
“I would like you to arrange for an inquisitor to accompany a group of senators to the Volmtagge System.” Palpatine hesitated. “There are a few . . . objects that I want him to find. I will provide all the information he needs to know.”
Rasche nodded. “Yes, my Master.”
How very polite, Palpatine thought. And very distant. The Sith Lord knew that his young apprentice did not harbor an ounce of regard for him – as it should be. But during their eleven year association, Darth Rasche has yet to make a move to become the new Sith Master. Lack of ambition? Or simply patient? Palpatine immediately dismissed both suggestions. Before becoming his apprentice, Rasche – formerly Romulus Wort – had been an ambitious, yet slightly impatient Jedi Knight. At least, according to Anakin Skywalker.
“By the way, did you overhear my conversation with the Grand Vizer Pestage?”
A slight, bored expression flitted across Rasche’s face. “Yes, I did. Why is the Volmstak flood so important to you?”
Palpatine leaned back into his chair. “There is a cache of Sith artifacts that had been stored on the Vomstak moon. Placed there by Darth Bane over a thousand years ago, when the Jedi were hunting down the Sith after the Great Sith War. I had just learned of their location not long ago. However, the agent who reported the discovery has disappeared. Possibly a victim of the flood. I want to ensure that the artifacts can be saved.” He paused dramatically. “And sent to me.”
Rasche rolled his eyes. “And you had summoned me to your office to discuss sending an inquisitor to recover this cache? Why not just send me?”
There were times when Palpatine wondered why he has put up with Rasche’s insolence. Vader had never been the insolent type, although Palpatine had sensed mild disapproval and dislike from his former apprentice. He never knew if he could trust Tyrannus – despite their thirteen year association. Only Maul had been eager to obey him. Which probably would have made the Zabrak a poor Sith Master.
“No,” the Emperor barked. “I have already created a committee to oversee the flood victims. I want an inquisitor to accompany them and ensure the discovery of that cache. No, I now have something else to discuss with you. I have recently sensed something afoot regarding Senator Dahlma of Maldare. Which is why I had requested that she serve on the Volmstak Relief Committee. She has rejected my request, claiming that she has a family funeral to attend. The funeral of a close cousin.”
Rasche’s dark eyes narrowed dangerously. “And you believe that she is lying?”
“I happen to know that Zoebeida Dahlma has been estranged from her entire family for years,” Palpatine explained. “Ever since her initial support of the Petition of 2000, during the last days of the Clone Wars. Her family has been ardent supporters of my chancellorship and of the Empire. I am curious about this cousin of hers. I would like you to send an inquisitor to investigate. Find out if this cousin of hers exists.”
After a long pause, Rasche asked, “And if this cousin does not exist?”
“Learn what the good senator is really up to. And deal with the matter.” A cruel smile touched Palpatine’s thin lips. “With your usual efficiency.”
Lord Rasche bowed deeply. "Yes, my master."
END OF CHAPTER TWO
Saturday, December 29, 2018
"PRIDE AND PREJUDICE" (1995) Review
There have been numerous adaptations of Jane Austen’s celebrated 1813 novel, "Pride and Prejudice" over the past decades. Two of these versions happened to be BBC miniseries that aired in 1980 and 1995. It has been a long time since I have viewed the 1980 miniseries. However, I recently saw the 1995 miniseries for the umpteenth time and decided to finally write a review of it. Adapted by screenwriter Andrew Davies, the miniseries was produced by Sue Birtwistle and directed by Simon Langton.
Austen’s story centered around one Elizabeth Bennet, the second of five daughters of a country gentleman living in Regency England and the efforts of her parents (or should I say of her mother) to find eligible husbands for her and her four other sisters. Two of these men happened to be the wealthy Charles Bingley, who has moved into the Bennets’ Hertfordshire neighborhood; and his wealthier friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy. The cheerful Mr. Bingley has managed to easily win the favor of the Bennets and their neighbors. He has also fallen in love with Elizabeth’s older sister, the even-tempered Jane. On the other hand, the more reticent Mr. Darcy not only managed to alienate Elizabeth, the other Bennets and the entire neighborhood with his aloof manner, but also fall in love with Elizabeth. "PRIDE AND PREJUDICE", more than anything, focused upon the volatile love story between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.
Like nearly every other work of art in existence, "PRIDE AND PREJUDICE" has its share of flaws. Years after I first saw this miniseries, I still find myself wincing at actress Alison Steadman’s portrayal of the boorish Mrs. Bennet. I realize that the character possessed a wince-inducing personality. But there seemed to be a shrill note in Steadman’s performance during the miniseries’ first episode that made her portrayal of Mrs. Bennet seemed over-the-top. Another complaint I have about the miniseries is the lack of complexity in supporting characters like Elizabeth’s aunt and uncle – Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner – and Darcy’s sister, Georgiana. I found all three very likeable, but also slightly boring. They were the only characters that seemed to indulge in banal conversation that complimented everyone and everything.
I have two problems regarding the crisis over Lydia Bennet’s elopement with George Wickham, Darcy’s boyhood companion. One, I never understood why a calculating scoundrel like Wickham would bother to leave Brighton with Lydia in tow, on the promise of elopement. He knew that her family did not have the funds to buy him off. And I have read excuses, which explained that Wickham left Brighton because he had accumulated a good deal of debt during his regiment’s stay. I have also read that he took Lydia with him as an excuse to get out of town. With the promise of elopement? That does not sound right. Wickham was not a fool. It was bad enough that he had accumulated debts and had to get out of Brighton. But to drag Lydia in this mess did not strike me as logical. All he had to do was leave town in the middle of the night. Whether he was with Lydia or by himself, he ended up being absent without leave. I cannot help but wonder if Austen ever thought this through when she wrote her novel. The elopement crisis also forced Elizabeth to end her summer tour of Derbyshire with the Gardiners and return to her family at Longbourn. For the next twenty minutes or so, "PRIDE AND PREJUDICE" grounded to a halt, while the Bennets received a series of correspondence and visitors. This sequence featured two scenes of a bored Lydia and an anxious, yet frustrated Lydia sharing a rented room in London, and two featuring Darcy’s search for the pair. This sequence also featured a meaningless visit from Mr. Collins in which he smirked over the family’s possible ruination for less than five minutes. These little scenes failed to help the sequence move at a faster pace.
Before one starts to assume that I do not like "PRIDE AND PREJUDICE", let me make it clear that I enjoyed it very much. In fact, I absolutely adore it. Not only is it one of my favorite Jane Austen adaptations of all time, it is one of my top ten favorite miniseries of all time. Yes, it has its flaws. Even some of the best movies and television productions have flaws. And as I have pointed out, I do believe that the 1995 miniseries is no exception. But its virtues definitely outweighed the flaws. The miniseries’ five-and-a-half hours running time proved to be more of a virtue than a hindrance. But the miniseries format allowed viewers to enjoy this adaptation at a more leisurely pace than is allowed in a movie adaptation and the rich details of the story. I have seen at least five versions of Austen’s "Pride and Prejudice". I have noticed that the plots for two of the movie versions went into great detail of the novel’s first half – from the Bingleys and Darcy’s arrival in Hertfordshire to Darcy’s first proposal to Elizabeth in Kent. But after that first proposal, the movie versions seemed to zoom ahead to Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s visit to Longbourn. I cannot say the same for the two television versions I have seen – especially the 1995 version. Aside from the tedious “search for Lydia” sequence, the story’s second half proved to be quite entertaining – especially Elizabeth’s visit to Derbyshire, Lydia and Wickham’s visit to Longbourn as a married couple, along with Darcy and Bingley’s efforts to renew their pursuits of the two elder Bennet sisters.
It could be understandable that the movie adaptations seemed to focus more on the novel’s first half. After all, many consider it to be the best part. The Bennets’ encounters with Darcy and the Bingleys crackled with energy and great humor. The series of fascinating verbal duels between the two lead characters possessed that same energy, along with a great deal of sexual tension. And when one throws the obsequious and ridiculous Mr. Collins into the mix, one has the feeling of watching a comedy-romantic masterpiece. All of this humor, energy and romance, mixed in with an elegant setting seemed to be at an apex in the Netherfield ball sequence. Personally, I consider the dance shared warily between Elizabeth and Darcy to be one of the best written and filmed scenes in the entire miniseries. Another scene that many consider to be one of the best, featured Darcy’s first marriage proposal to Elizabeth, during her visit to Charlotte and Mr. Collins at Hunsford Lodge, in Kent. That particular scene has to be one of the most wince-inducing moments in the entire story. Why? Because I found it hard to watch Elizabeth receive that extra-ordinary marriage proposal laced with passion . . . and slightly insulting remarks about her family background on her mother’s side. And because I found it difficult to watch Darcy endure Elizabeth’s heart stomping rejection. Both Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth performed the hell out of that scene.
Speaking of performances, one of the miniseries’ greatest assets was its cast. Jane Austen wrote a novel filled with some rich supporting characters. Director Simon Langton and screenwriter Andrew Davies utilized them very well. And so did the cast. Now, I cannot take back my complaints regarding Alison Steadman’s performance as Mrs. Bennet in the first hour. Yet shrill or not, she managed to capture her character’s personality perfectly. And so did Benjamin Whitrow, who portrayed the sardonic and long suffering Mr. Bennet. Some fans of Austen’s novel have complained about David Bamber’s buffoonish take on Mr. Collins, the Bennet’s obsequious cousin fated to inherit Longbourn upon Mr. Bennet’s death. But my memories of the literary Mr. Collins were that of a buffoonish man. However, Bamber gave his Mr. Collins a brief, poignant moment when Elizabeth took pity on his efforts to hide his slightly damaged pride with a tour of Hunsford. Julia Sawalha did a superb job in her portrayal of the youngest Bennet sibling – the thoughtless and self-centered Lydia. In fact, Sawalha managed to give one of the funniest performances in the entire miniseries. However, she had some stiff competition from the likes of Polly Maberly, who portrayed the slightly less flighty Kitty Bennet; and Lucy Briers, who portrayed the bookish and slightly self-righteous Mary Bennet.
One of the memorable performances in the miniseries came from actress Anna Chancellor, who portrayed one of Charles Bingley’s annoying and snobbish sister, Caroline. Chancellor managed to convey not only Caroline’s pretentious and spiteful sense of humor very well, but also the character’s desperate attempts to woo an uninterested Mr. Darcy. I believe that Crispin Bonham-Carter did a good job in infusing his character, Charles Bingley, with a good deal of bohemian warmth and cheerfulness. Yet, he had a tendency to read his lines in a broad manner that struck me as a bit too theatrical at times. I must admit that he could be very subtle in conveying Bingley’s attempts to suppress negative reactions to certain members of the Bennet family and his two sisters. Superficially, Susannah Harker’s performance as Jane Bennet seemed solid . . . almost dull. But a closer look at the actress’s performance made me realize that her she did a much better job in the role than most people were willing to give her credit for. She was excellent in conveying Jane’s heartbreak over the separation from Mr. Bingley. And she had one truly hilarious moment during the Netherfield Ball, when her character anxiously pointed out Mr. Collins’ intentions to speak to Mr. Darcy. But more importantly, Harker’s Jane seemed more like an older sister than the performances of the other actresses who had portrayed the role.
If I have to cite what I consider to be the three best performances in "PRIDE AND PREJUDICE", they would be Adrian Lukis as George Wickham, Colin Firth as Fitzwilliam Darcy, and Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet. In my opinion, Lukis’ portrayal of the charming and devious wastrel, George Wickham, is the best I have seen by any actor who has portrayed the role. I would not claim that he was the best looking Wickham. But Lukis conveyed a seamless charm that hinted a heady mixture of warmth, false honesty, and intimacy that could make anyone forget that his Wickham was a man one could not trust. And the actor achieved this with a subtle skill that made the other Wickhams look like amateurs.
Many fans and critics have labeled Colin Firth’s portrayal of Fitzwilliam Darcy as "smoldering" or "sexy" . . . worthy of a sex symbol. I do not know if I would agree with that assessment. What many saw as "smoldering", I saw a performance in which the actor utilized his eyes to convey his character’s emotional responses. Whether Firth’s Darcy expressed contempt toward others, growing love and desire for Elizabeth Bennet, anxiety, wariness or any other emotion; Firth uses his eyes and facial expressions with great skill. Some fans have complained that his Darcy appeared in too many scenes in the last third of the series. I consider this nothing more than an exaggeration. Personally, I enjoyed those little sequences in which Firth revealed Darcy’s struggles to deal with Elizabeth’s rejection. While several others drooled over Firth in a wet shirt and breeches, I enjoyed the awkwardness in the reunion between his Darcy and Elizabeth. Firth earned an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of the complex and reserved Mr. Darcy. And as far as I am concerned, he certainly deserved it . . . and a lot more.
Jennifer Ehle won a BAFTA award for her portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet, the vivacious leading lady of ”PRIDE AND PREJUDICE”. And it was a well deserved award, as far as I am concerned. Ehle not only formed a sizzling screen chemistry with Colin Firth, but with Adrian Lukis, as well. And like the two actors, she put her own stamp on her role. Ehle perfectly captured the aspects of Elizabeth’s character that many fans have admired – her liveliness, intelligence, warmth and sharp wit. Elizabeth’s habit of forming and maintain first opinions of others have been well-documented, which Ehle managed to capture. She also conveyed another disturbing aspect of Elizabeth’s personality – namely her arrogance. In some ways, Ehle’s Elizabeth could be just as arrogant as Mr. Darcy. She seemed to harbor a lack of tolerance toward those she viewed as flawed individuals. And thanks to Ehle’s skillful performance, this arrogance is conveyed in Elizabeth’s wit, barely suppressed rudeness and unwillingness to listen to good advice about making fast judgment about others from two people she highly admired – her sister Jane and her good friend, Charlotte Lucas.
The most important thing I can say about both Ehle and Firth is that the pair managed to form a sizzling screen chemistry. In other words, their Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy crackled with a great deal of energy, subtle sexuality and sharp wit. Their screen chemistry seemed stronger than any of the other screen couples who have portrayed the two characters. Surprisingly, I do have one problem with the two leads in the miniseries. And I have to place all of the blame on Andrew Davies, when he decided to faithfully adapt one scene in which the newly engaged Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy discussed the development of their relationship. Unfortunately, they came off sounding cold and clinical – like two psychoanalysts examining the genesis of their romance.
There is no doubt that producer Sue Birtwistle, director Simon Langton and the production team did a superb job with the miniseries’ overall production design. Mind you, I feel that the overall credit belonged to production designer Gerry Scott and art designers John Collins and Mark Kebby. They did a top notch job in capturing Austen’s tone from the novel by giving the miniseries a light and natural look to its setting. I could say the same for cinematographer John Kenway’s photography. I am not claiming to be an expert on the fashions of Regency Britain. Yet, from what I have read in other articles, many believed that Dinah Collin’s costumes closely recaptured the fashion and styles of the period when the novel was first published. I could not make final statement about that. But I must admit that the fashions perfectly captured the tone of the story and the production designs. If there is one other aspect of the miniseries that reflected its look and tone, I believe it would have to be Carl Davis’ score. Either he or Birtwistle made the right choice in hiring pianist Melvyn Tan to perform the score for the series’ opening credit.
In the end, "PRIDE AND PREJUDICE" became one of the most acclaimed miniseries on both sides of the Atlantic. Even after eighteen years, it is still highly regarded. And rightly so. Despite a few flaws, I believe it deserves its accolades. As far as I am concerned, the 1995 miniseries remains to be the best adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1813 novel. I also believe it is one of the best adaptations of any Austen novel, period.