on April 8, 2002
There is no denying that Sue Birtwistle's production of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is an exquisite adaptation of one of the finest novels in English literature. The cast is magnificent, the script knows when to be faithful and when to adjust, the music is lovely, and the settings are lush perfection. Knowing all this, one does wonder about the many other people who brought this fine work to fruition. (If you have the DVD Special Edition, you may have met some of these individuals in the featurette "The Making of Pride and Prejudice".) This book is absolutely loaded with pictures and photographs that cover every aspect of the work behind-the-scenes and in front of the camera, from location scouting to casting, music and choreography, costumes, makeup, filming and post-production. I especially enjoyed the long conversation with Colin Firth (Darcy), the head shots of the actors (who sometimes look very different than one expects -- Jennifer Ehle with blonde hair comes to mind!), the typical day's schedule, and the locations map. I learned a lot about this production and filmmaking in general.
This book is interesting, informative and very entertaining. If you like the book or the miniseries, you should enjoy this volume very much.
on May 3, 2004
First, I have to say that I have NEVER bought a "Behind the Scenes" book on ANY movie. I stumbled across "The Making of Pride and Prejudice" on Amazon. Sue Birtwistle's adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice" IS probably my favorite movie of all time, but the previous reviews on Amazon convinced me that I would like the book as well.
If you truly enjoyed the movie, I hope that you will take a chance and read, "The Making of Pride and Prejudice" by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin - even if you don't normally read this type of book. It is FASCINATING. It isn't just all the wonderful pictures (and how DIFFERENT the actors looked!); it is that this book methodically explains the concept behind the movie, the writing, the casting, the houses ("Pemberley" is actually at Lyme Park), the costumes, the wigs (Jennifer Ehle is a BLONDE!) and so many more interesting facts.
I was particularly amazed that Colin Firth originally TURNED DOWN the role of Darcy - because he didn't feel that he could do justice to the part. (Most of us can't imagine ANYONE except Firth playing the role!) Sue Birtwistle had to convince him to do the part. (And he was so nervous that he was physically ill initially.)
This is a terrific book, which chronicles the process of making a truly magnificent movie.
on September 9, 2002
For anyone who has enjoyed the outstanding rendition of Jane Austen's classic novel starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, this delightful, informative, eye-opening (and often humorous) behind-the-scenes book is a must have. I for one had no idea of what is involved in successfully adapting a classic period novel, and I am grateful to producer Sue Birtwistle and script editor Susie Conklin for taking us through the entire process.
Chapters include "The Script," which deals with the many difficulties that had to be overcome in adapting a novel effectively to an entirely different medium, while "Pre-production" deals with casting the actors and finding and securing suitable locations (no mean feat in itself!). We also discover what many senior behind-the-scenes personnel do. "Production Design" deals with the hands-on task of getting the locations ready--whether it's designing and creating a set or stripping a real-life location of all its 20th century trimmings (from unsuitable flowers, antennae and phone lines on the exterior to central heating pipes, light switches, electric light bulbs, and inappropriate furnishings on the inside). Tremendous research was involved in both "Production Design" and "Costume, Make-Up, and Hair Design". The latter chapter deals with decisions that had to be made concerning the palettes and styles of costume and hair for each actor. One also learns about the expensive and painstaking wig-making process and discovers that not only were the costumes made, but so were the fabrics!
The chapter entitled "Filming" chronicles the steps to be taken and the difficulties often incurred on the day of filming--things like checking the weather (and having contingency plans for rainy days) or requesting local air force bases not to fly over the location. With 12- to 16-hour workdays per person, the filming day is long indeed. For the actors, it's two-hours in make-up followed by 10 or 11 hours of actual filming. After filming, the crew must then prepare for the next day--with chores like washing and setting wigs, cleaning costumes, and packing up props and horses! Finally, "Post-production" deals with the months of work involved in editing, inserting sound tracks, and so on, to get the final product ready for the screen.
It's always nice when the authors of behind-the-scenes' books have the full support of all involved in the production (from cast to crew), and such is most certainly the case here. In fact, the book is rife with their many quotations and anecdotes, with certain members of the crew even contributing paragraphs describing the work they do and the process by which they achieve their goals. Last but not least, there is a full nine-page "Conversation with Colin Firth," set in question and answer format, wherein Firth provides an insight into how he went about capturing what he felt was the essence of Darcy and the difficulties he experienced along the way.
This is a beautiful 9 3/4" x 7 1/2" 117-page softcover. Good quality paper is used, and it is simply filled to the brim with lovely fine-quality colour photos--stills from the series, posed photos of some of the actors in full costume, photos of the actors being made up and the sets being prepared, photos of the filming process and of various crew members, and so on. A nice touch was the tiny b/w studio photos of the actors' faces--how they look in real life (which is very different in most cases!)
In conclusion, I found this to be a simply fascinating book, and one that without a doubt increases one's appreciation of this (and indeed all period dramas) tenfold. It's a book to be treasured, and I highly recommend it. If I have but one word of advice, it is this: Get this book now--before it goes out of print (as companion books so often do)!
on March 30, 2002
Having enjoyed both the book and the A & E miniseries, I began looking for more information about the story and found a number of recommendations for this book and so ordered it. I am so glad I did because now, when I review my own copy of Pride and Prejudice, I have new things to look for. The book is well organized, gives the viewer new insight into how a concept became a reality, and gives one a greater appreciation for all of the hard work that went into the making of this masterpiece. The interview with Colin Firth is worth the price of the book by itself. The photography in the book is well chosen and the text makes for a quick and entertaining read. I was delighted to discover that Georgiana and Mrs. Gardiner are in real life Mother and Daughter; that Jennifer Ehle is actually fairhaired; that Colin Firth, David Bamber, and Adrian Lucas all, for personal pleasure, play the guitar; and that all the participants--staff and actors alike--put in horrendously long days. (Well, I wasn't delighted about their long days, actually--but I was impressed!) There are individual photos of the actors without their makeup and I was astounded to discover how different some of them look from when in costume. My only criticism, if you can call it that, is that I would have preferred it be about twice as long...like the miniseries itself, it left me wanting more.
on March 29, 2002
I absolutley rave about this movie so when I found this book on an Amazon search I knew I had to have it. For the most part, it's a fantasic book but it's more about movie making then about the actual adaption of "Pride and Prejudice". My favorite chapters were the first chapter and the ninth. The first chapter is all about how the screenplay writer made his adaptation and why he wrote certain parts the way he did. Since I love the book I found this whole section extremely interesting. The ninth chapter is an interview with Colin Firth (Mr. Darcy) were he talks a great deal about how he prepared to play his part and how he interpreted his character. Since I thought Mr. Darcy and Colin Firth's portrayal of him one of the best things about the movie, this whole chapter was fascinating. The rest of the book is mainly about basic movie movie making (ie. costumes, make-up, finding locations...etc, etc) and it's not that it wasn't interesting because it was, I would have just liked to know more about casting and the different actors and actresses. I would have liked to see more chapters like the Colin Firth interview but with some of the other actors/actresses. However, the book is filled to the brim with color photos on every page of scenes from the movie plus script exerpts and book excerpts from the original Jane Austen novel for photo captions, which I just loved. All in all, if you loved the movie then you'll love this book. For me, personally, it just told me more about certain things then I wanted to know, and less about what I would have really loved to read about.
on February 6, 2002
If you liked the BBC's "Pride & Prejudice," you MUST buy this book. Not only for the pictures of the movie and characters, but the tons of backstage photos you get. All of the characters in the movie are fleshed out as actors and you really get a better sense of the movie in the end. There is a section on the costume, makeup, set, production, casting,etc... basically everything you would ever need to know about P&P: both the mini-series AND the book. I mention this because I was plesantly surprised at seeing a section of the book dedicated to the mission of the mini-series and a perspective on the original P&P novel. This book will also be valuable to period actors/those wanting to make a adaptation, especially if interested paritcularly in the Regency. As an actress, it was interesting to hear the different casting stories and see the behind the scence pictures. It is the kind of insight you usually get on a commentary track (which the DVD does not have) complete with pictures! A great book for fans of the movie or book, and period actors or filmmakers.
on August 17, 2001
This is a slim little volume, and you might be slightly disappointed when it arrives. But it is packed with information (in small type) and with fascinating pictures and snippets of information. Want to know how the actors and actresses were chosen and what problems they had with Regency English? This is the book. Want to know how the costume designers found the materials to make those lovely dresses, and where they got their inspiration? Again, this is the book. Want to know how to make a Regency costume? Sorry, this book cannot help. But you can get pointers by reading the pages on costume design.
If you are a fan of Colin Firth and/or Jennifer Ehle, or simply love the BBC-A&E production of Pride and Prejudice (1995), you should obtain this book. Just reading this book once gives you so much information about the series, and a better understanding of how this production came about. Of course, you might want to keep the book instead of passing it on to a friend (sorry, Candace!). My only regrets are a) that I did not order this book earlier, and b) that I did not order two copies of this book while Amazon was having its free shipping deal. Candace will get her copy later.
on September 29, 2000
Regardless of what prompted you to fall in love with the the sumptuous BBC/A&E production of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, you'll love this companion book, which fills in the background to an almost unprecedented degree.
Written in chatty style by the producer, Sue Birtwistle, and script editor Susie Conklin, the book begins with the very first idea (in 1986) of bringing one of the most loved books in the English language to the screen once again, concluding with the Christmas wedding of Eliza Bennet and Mr. Darcy. The six-hour, six million dollar production very nearly brought England to a standstill during the weekly broadcasts, as an estimated 40 million Brits were glued to the telly to see this (then) one-hundred-seventy-eight year old book brought to life. Almost no detail was allowed to be missed by the scrupulous inspection of the production crew. A few items were anachronistic, but calculatedly so; most notably, the billiard table, and Mr. Darcy's "cool-off" swim.
Each member of the technical staff -- director, casting, costumes -- speaks in his/her own voice, giving reasons for each particular choice made. Even the horse ridden by Mr. Darcy was auditioned. Contemporary pictures were used as much as possible to provide accuracy in costume and hairstyle. Meticulous attention was given to the dancing and the music, of which there is an abundance. Such minor considerations as the number of musicians employed at each dance venue exemplify the care taken with the production. Equally so, the food (of which there was more than enough to make the actors as well as the table groan) was specially prepared from recipes of the time by the appropriately-named chef for the series, Colin Capon, who specializes in period food for the BBC.
The book abounds with color photos, delineating in great detail how reality-based this production really was. In the end, however, it is the broad shoulders of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy upon which the success of the production rests. As the physical embodiment of the absolutely perfect Regency hero, he smolders wonderfully through the first three hours, sounding very like the young Richard Burton, when he does speak. A female of any age can easily be forgiven for wishing his liquid, dark and expressive eyes, as he surreptitiously follows Eliza Bennet around the room, would gaze at her in just that way. In perfect stillness, those eyes express the depth of his longing for Eliza, as well as his bewilderment by that longing, unsuitable as he deems her to be as a marriage partner.
Eventually, it is her sparkling intelligence and ready wit that win him to her, but only after she has brought him to his knees by refusing his first arrogant proposal. (Mr. Firth candidly explains how he arrived at that scene, in the ten-page chapter nine, "A Conversation with Colin Firth.") Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth was perfectly winsome and charming with her 'fine eyes', a beautiful smile, and an obvious intellect, not readily apparent in her three younger sisters.
Although the book doesn't specifically say so, attention must also have been paid during the casting process to those young ladies who were, perhaps, rather more well-endowed in the bosom department. The necklines of the various gowns are treacherously low, in some cases, which, when coupled with the very vigorous dancing, could make one understand the necessity for the close chaperonage of young women of the Regency. Not to mention those nearly skin-tight 'unmentionables' worn by all the young men!
We should all concentrate on wishing for another such production, especially if it would include the estimable 'Mr. Darcy'.
on June 19, 2000
This "behind-the-scenes" book is fantastic! As an avid fan of the miniseries (I own the video, and have watched it 7 times!), as well as the book, I thought I knew all there was to know about Pride and Prejudice. I learned the error of my thinking when I bought this book. The amount of information included in this book is invaluable. From background on the costume design to words from the composer and choreographer to a very interesting interview with Colin Firth (Darcy in the film), this book covered everything I could possibly wish to know, and more. A feature I found especially fascinating was a diary of an entire day of the filming of the miniseries - no small feat, from how the diary reads! The movie stills are as gorgeous as the action film itself, and the candid photos were hilarious! I also liked how quotations from Austen's novel were included in sidebars with stills from the film to enhance the understanding of a particular area of technical work. This "making of" book is a treasure in and of itself, and a wonderful companion to the stunning miniseries.
on May 22, 2000
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed Sue Birtwistle's production of Pride & Prejudice and wanted to know more about it. This book is a very excellent book about behind the scenes and in particular about the making of Pride & Prejudice. I never realized all the work that goes into a movie. I'm glad this is a book instead of a video, because they packed a lot of info into the book which couldn't have been covered in a 30 minute video production. If you enjoyed the production, you'll also enjoy the book. And, don't worry, it didn't spoil the screenplay for me (for instance, I didn't mind knowing trivial facts about the filming--such as the fact that sometimes the food-dishes were three days old and smelly!). I think I'm even more amazed at how well P&P was done after knowing more behind the scenes information.
I gave the book 4 stars, instead of 5, because I thought the book was a little choppy. There seems to be a general flow from section to the next, but there was little transistion. I think the writing could have been a little more polished in places.
But, overall it's very good. And it's packed full of pictures! We found ourselves wanting to know more!