My post on June 5 was on the Top 10 Goofs in the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice. It was fun to see how many of these were well known to you and which ones were more obscure. I committed in the comments thread on that post to give the same treatment to the 2005 adaptation, so that’s where we are today., and we’ll jump right in, starting at #10:
10.) The Awkward Coachman – In the scene where Mr. Bennet returns from London to be met by his daughters with a letter from Uncle Gardiner in hand, the coachman sets the brake after Mr. Bennet is out of the carriage. At this point he should have driven off. Instead, he just sits there, gawking at first, but then focusing forward, parked at the end of the pathway for no apparent reason as the Bennets return to the house. We must give some kudos to the actor who milked an extra minute or so of screen-time out of his minor role.
9.) Mr. Collins’ Photobomb – I thought this scene was a little strange when I noticed, sometime around my third viewing that Mr. Collins seems to be eavesdropping in the hall while Mrs. Bennet begs her husband to intercede with Elizabeth. It wasn’t until I listened to the commentary on the DVD that I learned it was actually a goof – he wasn’t supposed to be there at all. How very Mr. Collins of him!
8.) Caroline Bingley’s Sleeveless Dress – There were numerous fashion faux pas in the film, but no others quite startling as this one. While women in modern times may think nothing of a sleeveless dress on a formal occasion, a gown with no sleeves would have been scandalous in this era. In their effort to contemporize the film for modern audiences, the costumers time traveled Caroline a little too far into the future.
7.) The Rope Swing – It’s possible that no-one on the crew thought this one through, but the rope in this scene is made of synthetic fibers not available in the era, reportedly nylon. Ropes at that time were made from natural fibers such as hemp, cotton, or sisal. Perhaps they thought that no one would notice with Kiera Knightley’s pretty face center screen.
6.) The Boat to Nowhere – There is a sweet little montage we see while Elizabeth is spinning in that swing, that I’ve never quite figured out what it’s about. At first, it seemed to be the passing of the seasons, but after repeated viewings, I think it’s meant to be her reminiscing … or something. I still can’t make sense of the boat in the middle of the courtyard. The presence of the sailboat is obviously intentional, and probably symbolic, but it’s jarring and makes no sense in context. I can’t help but consider it a goof.
5.) The Mystic Sun – In the opening sequence, we see Elizabeth approaching Longbourn at the back of the house. The highlights and shadows make it clear that the sun is behind her. She walks through the house and gets to the front door, where we see the rising sun shining through the trees toward the front of the house, so she is facing the sun now. The flow of the rest of the scene is clearly lit with the morning sun coming through windows on the front of the house. I thought this was an oversight, but when listening to the commentary, discovered that this goof was actually intentional on the part of the director, Joe Wright. From a cinematic perspective, it’s quite a gorgeous and magical effect, but for repeat viewers, it’s frustrating. My apologies to those who never noticed this before. Once you notice it, you can’t go back.
4.) The Case of the Immaculate Bare Feet – Does Elizabeth Bennet have some sort of super power allowing her to wade through a muddy yard in her bare feet and emerge with perfectly clean feet? If so, she probably should have used the same trick when she walked to Netherfield and got six inches deep in mud.
3.) Lady Catherine’s Magic Candle – When we first see these five candles, they are all straight, then we see the second one on the left leaning, but the next time we see them, they are straight again. We all know that the scenes are patched together from multiple takes, but I notice this every time I watch this scene. This goof should have remained on the cutting room floor.
2.) Busted – We would never have noticed this goof had the camera not panned around the back of the bust of Mr. Darcy, which, in the story, was presumably a commissioned work made of carved marble to match the other works in the gallery. The back side gives it away as having originally been sculpted from clay or plaster rather than carved, with a bust of the sculpture having been cast out of resin mixed with marble dust. The clumps of you see on the back create an unfinished appearance when viewing it from the rear. Busts carved from stone are either smoothed and polished to match the front, chipped down to a reasonably smooth surface of stone, or not shaped at all.
1.) Anachronisms Everywhere – The film was set in 1797, which allowed them to use the lower, Georgian waistlines we see on the Bennets, with Caroline Bingley wearing the “latest” styles from London, which included the Empire Waistline the Regency is known for. There are numerous anachronisms included, some of which are barely noticeable, others which are frustratingly obvious: I knew before I even saw the film that Elizabeth wears Wellington styled boots in several scenes. These were neither available in 1797, nor would they have been considered suitable footwear for a gentle-born woman. The sculpture of the “Veiled Vestal Virgin” in the gallery was not carved until 1847. We see Mr. Bennet cultivating orchids, which was not something a man of his station would have had access to at that point in history. The flag carried by the Militia when they marched into Meryton included St. Patrick’s Cross, which was not added to the Union Jack until 1801. There are a few more, but I think these establish that the film was never intended to be fully authentic to the period, a hypothesis supported by dialogue that is also anachronistic in many places, something that isn’t likely to be noticeable to any but those with an extensive understanding of the language from that era.
I confess that I now feel somewhat like Elizabeth’s perception of Mr. Darcy – looking only to find fault. It isn’t my intention to be critical, but merely to share observations and information that fans may be interested in. I started compiling my list with goofs I had personally noticed, a few of which were actually validated by the DVD commentary when I listened to it. I also looked through the “Goofs” section for the film on IMDB and added the Nylon Rope and a few of the Anachronisms listed. There are certainly a few more that were on my list that I didn’t include – feel free to share any other goofs that I missed to this list in the comments.