2005’s Pride & Prejudice and the Hustle Around Its Bonus Ending – Film Stories

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Joe Wright’s 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice changed its final scene after test screenings in the UK – but it was retconned for an extended theatrical re-release weeks later.

“Sometimes the last person on Earth you want to be with is the only person you can’t live without.” It’s a slogan that says a lot about the lively and modern 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice. Presented as “producers of Bridget Jonesdiary“In its marketing, here is a version of Jane Austen’s 1813 novel that brings out the passion, romance, and sexual chemistry in the text, all within the confines of a U.

Due as much to the international hits of Working Title Bridget Jones and love in fact like other literary takes Shakespeare in love and Romeo + Julietthe British-American co-production is more faithful to Austen’s novel than either of those extremes would suggest, but its major concession to Hollywood romcom conventions would prove a sticking point on different sides of the Atlantic. .

Unlike the BBC’s five-hour television adaptation of the 1990s, Deborah Moggach’s adapted screenplay eliminates subplots and scenes and focuses on the emotional journey of the main love interests – the witty and headstrong Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley) and the rich, brooding Mr Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen). They start off on the wrong foot but love each other as the story progresses, and please don’t stop us if you’ve heard this one before, because it’s literally this a.

With that in mind, the producers were looking for a director with a fresh perspective and they found Joe Wright, who made his debut after directing several social realism TV dramas. Wright’s approach incorporated more modern romcom genre conventions, with teen comedies like The breakfast club and sixteen candles cited as sources of inspiration.

It’s almost certainly the latter that informs the end of the cut that played out in front of UK test screen audiences before the film was released in 2005. Final spoiler warningbut as originally released, the UK cut of the film does not end with Elizabeth and Darcy, but with Elizabeth telling her long-suffering father, Mr. Bennet (Donald Sutherland, in wonderful form) that she is happy and engaged .

The film cuts to the credits after a visibly relieved and emotional Mr. Bennet delivers the brilliant final line: “If any young men come for Mary or Kitty, for heaven’s sake send them. I’m all for it.” my way.”

However, originally there was an additional two-minute scene at Darcy’s estate in Pemberley, after the couple were married. In a sequence that never appears in the book, the two casually discuss pet names for Elizabeth. Darcy confirms that he is (in his words) “completely, perfectly, incandescently happy” and kisses her face all over before the film goes black.

It doesn’t quite match the tone of the rest of the film, the most erotically charged moment of which comes from a close-up of Macfadyen’s hand flexing after a fleeting touch. Given the film’s powerful understatement in this regard, it’s no surprise that UK test audiences didn’t go for the more sentimental ending. Some viewers thought it was unnecessarily sexual, others thought it wasn’t like Austen, and some just found it unintentionally funny. Wright duly cut the scene before it hit theaters.

In September 2005, the UK release was warmly received by critics and audiences. The strategy of marketing to a younger audience also paid off. At the UK box office, Pride and Prejudice was the 13th highest-grossing film of 2005. Its highly respectable gross of £17.2million puts it ahead of an action-packed romantic comedy. Mr and Mrs Smith but just behind another literary adaptation of the U certificate, Nanny McPhee.

And then there was the American release…

On the other side of the pond

As mentioned, the film was a co-production between Working Title Films in the UK and Universal Pictures in the US and when it came time to release Pride and Prejudice in the United States, this final scene found its way back into the American cut of the film.

Perhaps with the stated aim of making a movie for the mainstream romantic comedy audience, Wright surmised in an interview “I guess in America you just like a little more sugar in your champagne.” In further interviews on the American press circuit, McFadyen and Sutherland agreed that the film’s extended ending was “milder” and “sweeter” than the version played in other territories.

But what about the Austen devotees? Were they “completely, perfectly, incandescently happy” with the ending? Well, in a word – no.

In the ensuing backlash, some bloggers took over the sixteen candles element, but it was Elsa Solender, former president of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA), whose comments stood out.

She said, of the new ending: “It’s nothing Jane Austen at all, is inconsistent with the first two-thirds of the film, insults audiences with its banality, and should be cut before release”.

As it happens, the ending stuck in the cut that hit US theaters on November 11, 2005, and the scuttlebut about its ending didn’t hurt its box office too much.

However, all the chatter had an unintended side effect for UK distributors. Word returned to this side of the pond, and some fans of the film felt they missed the shorter version which played in UK cinemas. Indeed, there was an online petition to include the ending on the eventual release of the record.

Perhaps bolstered by the film’s critical and commercial success, Working Title went one better, announcing that the ending would not only be on disc, which was released in February 2006, but also restored in an extended cut released in select UK cinemas. November 25. , just two weeks after the US release.

Producer Paul Webster said: “We have been absolutely delighted with the continued interest in Pride and Prejudice and are excited about the opportunity to show the end of the United States to British audiences.

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So to recap – the more sentimental ending was removed from the UK cut on release because test audiences didn’t like it, but kept for the US release in the hopes of appealing to mainstream audiences and then restored for a new UK release. out by popular demand because it turned out our lot wanted to see it after all.

It’s a rollercoaster worthy of the film’s romantic back-and-forth. Incidentally, the cut of the film now available on Netflix UK is the original (upper) version which ends with Sutherland happily relaxing in his study, and no one seems to mind too much. And if you’re happy with that, then that’s the end of that feature. It’s a better ending, we think.

Still, if you’ve never seen this extended ending before and are feeling curious, take a look below, at your leisure…

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