A world full of imagination, facts and fiction, beautiful minds opened with all their vulnerability just for the reader, so personal yet so universal, all wrapped in those two covers- that’s what a book is made of. Books are endless. Movies are not. Their stories can be timeless but they can’t exceed their timeframes. This is where books are said to be generally superior than movies. Movies can never reach the depth and nuances of a story the way a book can. But no matter what, I am a die-hard movie lady. Apart from the non-intellectual reasons like lack of patience and habit of repeating old book over and over, I find movies magical! It has been quite some years since I let go off the major strands of cultural elitism, so now I watch almost everything. I had made peace with the fact that movies can’t touch the depth of story like the books do, and I will be contented with that and those extra nuances that movie adds through visuals (even if it limits imagination in some ways).
The 200 year-young Jane Austen novel ‘Pride and Prejudice‘ has been revisited by creatives all over the world. People have adapted this novel in their own ways, in their own languages and cultures. My ‘Pride and Prejudice’ experience started with a mixed-language gala Bollywood adaptation by Gurinder Chadha, ‘Bride and Prejudice‘ (2004), starring Martin Henderson and Aishwarya Rai. Few years later I also caught up with the absolutely mesmerizing Joe Wright’s movie ‘Pride and Prejudice‘(2005) as well, starring Matthew MacFadyen and gorgeous Keira Knightly. However, I didn’t feel compelled to read the book yet. Years later ‘Pride and Prejudice’ popped up again when I was chatting with my friends few weeks earlier. We have a very balanced group: I love movies, the second one loves books and the third one loves both. So this third wise-owl friend discarded all these nice adaptations and suggested a TV-series instead. ‘That’s the most authentic one, closest to the book and even my father used to watch it before teaching the novel to his students’, she said.
I started downloading the 6-episode BBC mini-series and after days of fighting with horrible internet connection, I finally managed to get the entire thing. It took me a day to finish watching the series as the episodes were one-hour long. This 1995 TV-series starred Collin Firth and Jennifer Ehle as Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, and yes, a wonderful reference indeed if someone wants to study the novel. I don’t want to go on a fan-frenzy over the elegance and sheer beauty of this production (still considered to be a pathbreaker in British television). As book is generally believed to have more than its audio-visual counterparts, I was compelled to read the book this time. Indeed the series version was abridged and also took slight artistic liberty in few places. But after giving it a read I concluded that sometimes less is more; surely the characters didn’t say every single dialogue, we didn’t see every single scene mentioned in the novel, but the heart they brought into the story, sometimes with mere glances and sometimes with silent landscapes of the picturesque countryside of England, more than makes up for what was lost in transition of medium.
We have read books written for making screenplay, we have read screenplays in form of book (much to the dismay of some veteran readers, but never mind Rowling). Our childhood was made of legends turning their novels into movie and showing how it’s done. We have watched movies reinventing books and made fool of ourselves by buying that book later (seriously, why Mr. Bhagat!). Nonetheless, superiority of book is generally unquestioned. But the same probably can’t be said anymore in this era of Series. Series comes in different sizes, can be very much endless and have their own language of storytelling, sometimes so different and unique from the book that we can’t compare but only admire the two narratives.
‘Pride and Prejudice’ (1995) TV-miniseries is available in Blu-ray and DVD. I may buy it one day, as a collectible.