As an avid reader of classic literature, there are several books that I would love to see brought to life on film. Some already have been adapted for the cinema, and much to my dislike. If I had the opportunity to bring one book to life, and do it to my own liking, that book would have to be Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice. It is a classic and beautifully written love story that tugs at the reader's heart. In my opinion, it captures the beauty of what love is all about. It is wonderful choice for cinematic adaptation because the story line is capable of standing on its own. A good cast and a brilliant director would be the major obstacles.
The first thing I would consider when making this movie would be my cast. Elizabeth Bennett, although the protagonist of the entire story, is actually the easiest for me to cast. Kate Winslet would be my choice. I can think of no other actress that seems fit for the part. Winslet has a remarkable range, and she is an actress that I think viewers can take seriously in the role. Mr. Darcy poses a much more daunting task for me. I would want a serious actor, capable of a wide range of emotions and someone who ultimately possesses that "brooding" quality that seems to make Mr. Darcy who he is. I have heard of versions starring Colin Firth as the arrogant Mr. Darcy, but I cannot seem to picture him in the role. I think I would much prefer someone like Jude Law, although I am still not entirely sure about him for the role. It might be easiest to get a relatively unknown actor for this one, someone who the public knows very little about and would have no pre-conceived notions of.
Although the roles of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are the two most important to the story, I do have some ideas for the other characters as well. For the good-natured Jane, I picture someone like Claire Forlani or Kate Beckinsdale. For the kind and generous Charles Bingley, I really like Andrew Lincoln, a British actor who is best known for playing Mark in the screenplay Love Actually, written and directed by Richard Curtis. I also like Eric Bana for this role. Bana is probably best known for his role as Hector in the movie Troy, directed by Wolfgang Peterson. Bana might also prove a worthy candidate for Mr. Darcy as well, but I have yet to see him as a romantic lead.
For the frivolous and self-absorbed Lydia, I picture Beverley Mitchell. She is best-known for her work as Lucy in the television show Seventh Heaven. She has an abundance of energy as an actress, and she really seems to fit the role quite well. Mr. Wickham deserves someone who has a playboy image. The name that ultimately comes to my mind is Colin Farrell. Although not often showcased, Farrell has quite a bit of talent and range. A movie of this nature could help him to show these qualities.
Mr. Bennett deserves a dignified actor, and Geoffrey Rush quickly comes to mind. My only fear is that he may be too old for the role, and in that case I like Liam Neeson. I am at a loss on Mrs. Bennett. Any actress in that role would need to have plenty of energy and really bring out the frivolous qualities that the character possesses. I would like Natalie Portman as the studious Mary Bennett and perhaps an unknown actress as Kitty Bennett.
Although the actors and actresses that I have chosen for the roles would do a fantastic job on their own, a brilliant director often times makes all the difference. My choice for this film would be James L. Brooks. His body of work, both as a director and a producer, is quite impressive. Movies such as Terms of Endearment, As Good As It Gets, Big, and Jerry Maguire certainly do not look bad on a résumé.
I would try to keep the story line of the movie as close as possible to the novel. After all, telling the story is the sole purpose. Sometimes changes are necessary simply for feasibility of production. I recognize that fact, but would do my best to change as little as possible of the original story. I would probably choose the English countryside for the setting and costumes would follow traditional nineteenth-century British dress.
If there was one film-literature combination that I would try to emulate, it would have to be Pygmalion, directed in 1938 by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard and based on George Bernard Shaw's 1913 play. That movie did a wonderful job of showcasing the relationship between the unlikable Professor Higgins (Leslie Howard) and Eliza (Wendy Hiller). I see several comparisons between the two works with regard to the relationship between the two main characters. Professor Higgins is that work's Mr. Darcy. He is arrogant and utterly unlikable. Eliza is a somewhat equal comparison to Elizabeth. Although not as intelligent, Eliza will not bow down to Higgins and has no problems showing herself as a strong woman who speaks her mind and is not impressed by wealth.
Being an avid reader of classical literature by no means makes me qualified to make a movie. In fact, I would probably be quite horrible at it. Despite that fact, there are some things that I do know. The story line is always important and has to be able to sustain itself without all the high-tech gadgets available today. Actors and actresses need to be chosen on ability, not popularity. And finally, something is to be learned from the classic movies of the past. They relied on high-quality acting, story line, and directing. An enormous budget and high-tech gadgetry will never replace those three basic ingredients.