In 1995, the BBC put out a miniseries version of Jane Austen's classic novel, Pride and Prejudice. The story follows Elizabeth Bennet, her sisters, and her parents, as Mrs. Bennet attempts to find suitable husbands for her daughters. Though this was by no means the first on-screen adaptation of the novel, it has become the definitive one. With six episodes that each run for nearly an hour, the miniseries is able to provide far more depth than a traditional film. Additionally, it manages to convey much of the wit of Austen's novel while not losing the seriousness (for the characters) of what occurs.
With that 1995 version of the story – and Colin Firth's incredibly memorable turn as Mr. Darcy – fixed in the minds of so many, it may seem like folly to attempt another two-hour filmic version. So much occurs in the novel, and so much of the plot is present in the miniseries, that a two-hour version must leave out moments which are sure to be favorites of some in the audience. And yet, in 2005, during the 10-year anniversary of the miniseries, director Joe Wright (The Soloist) attempted to put forth a new adaptation of the novel, with Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy) in the role of Elizabeth and Matthew Macfadyen (MI-5) filling Mr. Firth's shoes.
In the end, not only did Knightley's role in the film earn her a Golden Globe as well as an Academy Award nomination, but the film itself was nominated for numerous awards, including a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. The film is a crashing success, with Knightley giving an outstanding performance and excellent work by many of the supporting players, including Rosamund Pike as Elizabeth's sister, Jane; Brenda Blethyn as Mrs. Bennet; Tom Hollander as Mr. Collins; and Judi Dench as Lady Catherine de Bourg. In fact, the greatest disappointment in the film is Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet. Sutherland's interpretation of Mr. Bennet makes the character incredibly serious and introspective, a man lost in his own world and entirely removed from his family. There is little given in the film to support this interpretation and consequently Sutherland's Bennet, who gives the feel of something like a retired soldier living with PTSD, appears wholly out of place in an otherwise enjoyable film.