Many are the words that have been spoken in debate over the film actresses that have played the role of the witty, complicated, and prejudiced heroine Elizabeth Bennet over the years. Sides are vigorously taken in this ongoing battle between Team Keira and Team Jennifer. You might think it is all in jest, but for some, it simply isn’t. Like the debate of the avocados (fruit or vegetable?) or the defense for the honor of the Loch Ness Monster, it is a matter of principle and the utmost importance.
The three versions of “Pride and Prejudice” that I’ve seen have three completely different leading ladies. And though they all strive to live up to the high standards set by avid Austen fans, everyone has their favorite.
First off… Greer Garson. The 1940 version of “Pride and Prejudice” is hardly anyone’s favorite, I would think, but it still served enough of a role in my Austenian education to be mentioned. Poor poor Greer has a name so drear. She pulled off a snooty version of Elizabeth, snub nose and all. But how could she help it, wearing those awful attempts at period costume?
Then comes Jennifer Ehle, who has quite a devoted following. And no wonder, for she brings a very lovable grace to the screen. Playing alongside Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle has become Elizabeth in many girls’ minds. Although I think she did a good job, Jennifer is just too… nice(?) – there doesn’t seem to be enough cutting wit about her, but maybe I’m over-analyzing.
And my personal favorite: Keira Knightley. I really don’t know why she gets such a bad rap for her efforts at Elizabeth, but I tend to think that it’s mostly a result of Jennifer Ehle taking the stage for so long. I do see how Keira Knightley is more Hollywood and less real looking, but I still believe she did a fantastic job showing the many sides to Elizabeth Bennet.
Elizabeth Bennet has taken many faces over the years… who was your favorite? Let me know in the comment section below!