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Jane Austen's classic tale of love and values in class-conscious 18th century England returns to the screen. The five Bennet sisters—including strong-willed Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) and young Lydia (Jena Malone)—have all been raised by their mother (Brenda Blethyn) with one purpose in life: finding a husband. When a wealthy bachelor takes up residence nearby, the Bennets are abuzz with designs on the man's sophisticated circle of friends. But it is Elizabeth's encounters with the vexing Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen) that really ignite the battle of the sexes. Co-starring Judi Dench and Donald Sutherland.

 Pride and Prejudice

It was a Sunday afternoon in the pub when I received the screenplay of Pride and Prejudice. I come from a background of a kind of social realist drama, and had never read the novel and never seen the television miniseries. I thought it was all kind of posh really. I was a bit more street than that, I thought. So I read it, and as I did, I became quite emotionally involved in it until, by the end of the script, I was weeping like a baby into my pint of lager, which was all quite embarrassing. So I then went and read the book and discovered, to my surprise, that what Austen had written was a very acute character study, and a study of a social group, and that it felt like she was one of the first British realists. I got excited then about a way of doing Pride and Prejudice that I hadn’t imagined or seen before. This was to treat it as a piece of British realism that, rather than going with the picturesque tradition of the time and creating an idealized version of England, would actually make it textured, real and gritty. I wanted to be as honest with it as possible.

Elizabeth Bennet in the novel is 20 years old and Mr. Darcy is 28; really they were kids, and that was also something that I hadn’t seen done before. It was then that the idea made sense to me and that rather than these 30-year-old men and women prancing around and pretending to be in love, it was about falling in love for the very first time. I was really moved by this realization; it was very exciting to me.

There are moments when we ask, “Why does this person make me feel so deeply? And if they can make me feel so angry then how can they also make me feel this happy?” In the big proposal scene in the rain, Lizzy says at the end that “From the first moment I met you, your arrogance and conceit made me realize that you were the last man in the world that I could ever marry,” which roughly translates to “Since the first moment I met you I’ve been thinking about marrying or not marrying you.” If you meet someone with whom you have no chemistry, you never think like that. She saw him and thought, “I’m never going to marry him,” but she immediately thought about marriage. They think about each other all the time and whether it’s about how much she hates him or what a bastard he is or how much she actually loves him, she’s still thinking about him. They have a huge effect on each other’s lives from the moment they meet.

Simply put, Pride and Prejudice contains inherent emotional truths that are relevant down the generations and are worth telling over and over again because we love to hear those true stories told in that way. We like that affirmation, we like to be told that love exists. Sure, people are too prejudiced and too proud but nevertheless they keep falling in love. It’s the greatest theme in drama and storytelling.