Joe Wright

On his new Pride and Prejudice.

Director Joe Wright never thought he'd be in Seattle at the Four Seasons promoting his first feature, an Austen picture (see review). "I'd never seen the other adaptations. I was reticent about even reading the script. I kind of thought Pride and Prejudice was for girls." Now he swears it's the first version that isn't for boys. "People talk about Laurence Olivier's Pride and Prejudice or Colin Firth's Pride and Prejudice, the miniseries. It seems wrong that people talk about it in terms of the males. It feels sexist to me. So I tried to make a film about Elizabeth Bennet, and hopefully this is Keira Knightley's Pride & Prejudice." It's also less brainy than the 1995 BBC miniseries written by Andrew Davies. "Davies is a very intellectual writer. I don't think of myself as being a very intellectual filmmaker. I work from instinct and intuition rather than from clear analytical intellectual thought. Which is to say I'm not very bright, really." His bright idea is that Austen's first book, written at 21, is about young people. "It's about people falling in love for the first time, not understanding exactly how they feel. Olivier was a man in his 40s playing Darcy . . . [it] doesn't make sense to me!" The toughest shot was the film's best. "The long Steadicam sequence in the second ball, like three and one-half minutes. It keeps everybody moving constantly." Wright was trying to convey Bingley's yet-unrequited love for Jane without the cliché of having him watch her dance with another guy. "I thought if Bingley is walking behind Jane, he might hold onto her dress, feel the texture of her silk ribbon, and that would make him feel like he was holding onto her apron strings—he's slightly vulnerable in his love for her. I wanted the audience to feel it was in a 360-degree world." "I'm quite romantic," says Wright. But his study of the montage experiments of the Russian director Dziga Vertov taught him that the audience's emotions are what counts. The emotion viewers see written all over the face of Darcy (Matthew MacFayden) at the end, walking through the mist to embrace Lizzie, is in fact entirely projected thereupon. "Matthew is very blind. So that shot which women seem to swoon over—I'm behind the camera with a red flag waving so he knows where to walk. All he's trying to do is work out where's the red. That's montage!"

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