Plot: What’s it about?
As the 18th century heads toward an end, so does the future of the Bennet bloodline, or so it seems. Mr. Bennet (Donald Sutherland) and his wife have five children, but all were daughters. This means since there is no male heir, the family estate will be left to a cousin upon the father’s death. As the family’s financial assets won’t be available to them, the daughters now feel added pressure to find suitable husbands. As if the stress of trying to find a good man weren’t enough, now the increased pressure of getting a man of means is even more intense. Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) refuses to play the role of quiet, doting female however, even brushing off the cold, but well to do Mr. Darcy (Matthew McFayden). But as time passes and the two continue to cross paths, will she warm up to the man she swore to hate?
To this point, most of the high definition releases have been popcorn blockbusters, which makes sense, given their potential for impressive audio/visual presence. A welcome chance of pace is Pride & Prejudice, which proves you don’t need special effects galore to look remarkable in high definition. The movie itself is quite good, with lush period production values and ample romance, of the effective sort. I’ve seen a lot of period romances and in most cases, the romance has a melodramatic texture, which works in some cases. In this movie however, there is a more natural approach to romance and to me, it is more effective and helps keep melodrama to a minimum. All of the elements fall into place, with great performances, authentic period details, and how the story is allowed to flow. In short, Pride & Prejudice is a fine romance with great period atmosphere and on HD-DVD, the movie looks superb, so this is an excellent way to experience the film.
Video: How does it look?
Pride & Prejudice is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is a wonderful visual effort, one that captures all the visual magic I saw in the theatrical presentation. The image here isn’t as eye popping in terms of razor sharp detail, but it does sport enhanced depth, to be sure. The draw here are the gorgeous colors, which look so much bolder and richer here than on the standard release, the landscapes simply shine. But most scenes reflect the intended golden hue, but even then, detail is strong and the visuals are always remarkable. I knew how good this could look, so I am pleased with how well this transfer turned out and fans should be no less than thrilled.
Audio: How does it sound?
This is a dialogue driven period drama, but the included Dolby TrueHD 5.1 option still sounds impressive. The atmosphere is well handled, as background noise is effective and you feel immersed inside the film’s world. The surrounds don’t offer much power, but they are active and offer an experience that makes the most of the material. The music also sounds great, while dialogue is clear and suffers no serious concerns. So it might not be the kind of soundtrack you’ll rave about, but it sounds very good and adds a lot to the experience, to be sure. This disc also includes a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 option, French and Spanish language tracks, and subtitles in English and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The most substantial supplement is director Joe Wright’s commentary track, in which he covers a broad range of topics in regard to the movie and its source. He compares and contrasts this film with other adaptations, talks about the cast during the shoot, and offers technical information on production issues. The track is loaded with insights on all these topics and more, so if you enjoyed the movie, don’t miss this session. You can also peruse a half dozen or so featurettes, but all are rather brief and even the ones that aren’t promotional don’t have much depth.