Friday, December 2, 2011

Mr. Darcy in review

I've got it into my head that I want to "review" the Mr. Darcies of our time from four main sources and by doing so perhaps start a series of Austen reviews. Of course one has to start with Darcy considering he is, I think with no contest, the most recognized and swooned over hero or character in Austen. This can be debated based on favorites, but as a whole Darcy is the man. We can debate the heroes later (I'm a Tilney gal myself, or Wentworth...or Knightley).

What are to be my Mr. Darcy sources? Pride and Prejudices 1995 (Colin firth), 2005 (Matthew Macfadyen), 2003 (yes, the Mormon one-Orlando Seale) and Lost in Austen 2008 (Elliot Cowan). I have not included the Greta Garbo/Lawrence Olivier P&P because I don't feel I've seen it recently enough to give a fair account. I have included Lost in Austen because it includes all the P&P characters, is I think, one of the best modern Austen interpretations and you can't just ignore Elliot Cowan's scrumptious Darcy.

And so, here we go, in a very particular order starting with none other than the reigning champion of Darciness, Academy Award Winner Colin Firth.

Firth is Darcy. I defy anyone to dispute this. Each Darcy has his special qualities that the others mightn't, but Firth is just Darcy all over. He's got the looks, the height, the hair and the glances and stares. Who doesn't get giddy when Elizabeth goes to turn Georgiana's pages and Darcy looks at her so perfectly? We all pine to be looked at like that.
yup, like this
And of course we can't forget The Lake. I recently watched this version over Thanksgiving and was with quite a throng of 15-30 year olds who  all lost it when the music swelled and Darcy busted through the woods.

As for horse riding, Firth is pretty great and as far as I can tell does all his own horse work. Also, he fences. FENCES! When Elizabeth finds out about Lydia he's so concerned and takes her hand. Ug! He's just so Darcy. I don't really know what else to say! As costumes go he's one of my favorites, second only to a Darcy that's yet to be discussed. Favorite? His green coat with green patterned waistcoat, although I have seen his formal "tux" in person. Yup, jealous?
He only smiles once, and they only kiss once (the only part of Elizabeth and Darcy's stroll at the end I'd change), but both smile and kiss are worth it. Oh Mr. Firth.

Ok, so I have a rather hard time picking my second favorite Darcy, between Macfadyen and Cowan. I don't like Macfadyen's face as well as Cowan's, but I love Macfadyen's beefiness, which isn't to say I don't absolutely adore Cowan's cutness (saw him in Macbeth at the Globe, he is cut)...Which to pick next?! I'd say it's a tie but that will never do. Ok ok ok, don't kill me for picking a Darcy that isn't in the real narrative but...

Elliot Cowan comes in second. I know, I know, Lost in Austen isn't a true telling of P&P and therefore we miss some of Darcy's best Austen written lines, but Cowan explores a completely new take on Darcy and I think successfully so. Also, even though I abhor both of their hair compared to Firth and Seale, I despise Cowan's less. Cowan has his great glances at Amanda and has his own lake scene. Granted there isn't the emotional build up to it like Firth's but in this conversation we return to Cowan's cutness. So so cut, such a thick waist (truth be told Firth is a bit slim for me...). Cowan's voice I like much better than Macfadyen's. True story: the only thing that triggered any recollection of Cowan from Lost in Austen (which I saw about 18 months prior) when I saw Macbeth was his voice and absolutely square jaw.
not the best quality, but I had to take it myself from Netflix to show how absolutely defined and thick he is

Cowan is much more grumbly and scowly than any other Darcy, but he's oh so soft when he needs to be. I didn't like some of his coats, mostly his double breasted ones, mainly his burgundy which is cut too high and shows so much waistcoat. Cowan also has an amazing riding coat (not as great at Macfadyen's). And of course you get the end of the movie smile...sort of.

Now, Matthew Macfadyen. Truth be told I'm not wild about this version in general. The cinematography is stunning, as is the attention to detail in costuming, but the hair and make up was just too distracting, and I don't care for Keira Knightley. However, Macfadyen's own brand of Darcy does redeem it on some counts. Macfadyen plays Darcy as a shy and awkward guy that's rather reluctant to be in society. He'd rather stay home because it's not the less refined he particularly despises, but just having to talk to strangers in general (watch Macfadyen's interview on the DVD).

His hair is terrible. It just hangs there during the proposal (Darcy should have curly hair!). Macfadyen's main draw for me is his incredible breadth and broadness. He's so large, and we all know I have a thing for beefy men (or you know now).
The above photo shows one of my favorite little moments in the film, next Darcy turns around and almost elbows Collins. Also from this scene we see how broad his shoulders are and how thick his waist is and, look at the cut of his coat! SO fantastic.

Which leads me to another point: I like Macfadyen's costumes the best, probably because I prefer the  late 18th century coats more than the double breasted of the later period that the others are set in. His colors are also fresher by the end and go through a very nice palette transformation. AND he's got the best riding coat that billows so greatly in Macfadyen's immense amount of horse riding (although I think they used a stunt double for some of the more rigorous riding, think during Darcy's letter). And lest we forget Darcy's mist scene, this version's answer to The Lake Scene.

thick waist, billowy riding coat
And of course Macfadyen smiles so nicely.

And lastly, Orlando Seale, who is modern Darcy. He's got the accent and the hair and the attitude and some very endearing parts, but he's a rather petite man and you just can't beat the costumes.

Maybe the best hair, which is a miracle considering the rest of the hair in this film is a disaster.
And he smiles.

Mr. Knightley in Review

1 comment:

  1. Well thank you for this :)! Love the intertwined costume/hotty analysis :)! I still haven't looked around, but would be just amazed if you also did this for all the Rochesters :)!