The 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic 1883 novel Pride & Prejudice is currently streaming on Netflix. The film stars Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy. Screenwriter Deborah Moggach initially wanted the script to be as close to the novel as possible, but director Joe Wright encouraged her to deviate and change some character dynamics.
Set in early 19th-century England, the story focuses on the Bennet family and the second eldest daughter, Elizabeth (Keira Knightley). The Bennets are a lower-gentry family of five daughters. Their mother, Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn), is determined to see them marry into affluent families as their modest estate is entailed to a male cousin, Mr. Collins (Tom Hollander).
At its core, Pride & Prejudice explores the relationships within the Bennet family, showcasing the girls’ varying attitudes toward marriage.
When a wealthy, eligible bachelor, Mr. Charles Bingley (Simon Woods), moves into a nearby estate, Mrs. Bennet is thrilled at the prospect of marrying one of her daughters to him. At a local ball, Bingley is immediately taken with Jane (Rosamund Pike), while his friend, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen), appears proud and aloof.
Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) overhears Mr. Darcy making disparaging comments about her at the ball, which leads her to form a strong prejudice against him. Jane and Bingley’s relationship blossoms, but interference from Mr. Darcy and others threatens their love. Meanwhile, Elizabeth finds herself caught in a romantic tug-of-war with Mr. Darcy.
She is pursued by the charming but insincere Mr. Wickham (Rupert Friend) while dealing with the proposal of Mr. Collins. As the story unfolds, Mr. Darcy is revealed to be more complex and compassionate than his initial aloof demeanor suggests. His growing affection for Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) becomes apparent as he attempts to help her family during a crisis.
The film received widespread critical acclaim, with Keira Knightley’s portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet praised for its wit and charm.
At its core, Pride & Prejudice explores the relationships within the Bennet family, showcasing the girls’ varying attitudes toward marriage. Elizabeth’s (Keira Knightley) intelligent and independent spirit sets her apart from her more traditional sisters. The story also delves into the rigid social class system of the time and the expectations placed on women to marry well.
Elizabeth’s refusal to marry for financial security, instead seeking love and respect, is a central theme. The film’s climax involves an emotional confrontation between Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) and Mr. Darcy, where misunderstandings are clarified, and truths are revealed. The resolution of their relationship forms the heart of the story.
Pride & Prejudice was well-received at the box office, grossing over $121 million worldwide against a budget of approximately $28 million, making it a commercial success. The film received widespread critical acclaim, with Keira Knightley’s portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet praised for its wit and charm. The chemistry between Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen’s Mr. Darcy was also lauded.
Along with critical acclaim, Knightley’s performance earned several award nominations, including one for Best Actress at the Academy Awards.
Audiences also embraced Pride & Prejudice, with many appreciating its romantic, period-drama elements. The movie’s accessibility and modern sensibilities appealed to fans of Jane Austen’s work and newcomers to the story. While the 2005 adaptation stays faithful to the novel’s core narrative and characters, there were some notable differences.
The film simplified some aspects of the plot for brevity, omitting some of the book’s minor characters and subplots. It also introduces some romantic scenes and interactions between Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) and Mr. Darcy that are not detailed in the book. Additionally, Wright wanted to capture a more realistic atmosphere, which is why there are scenes with characters walking through mud and rain.
Keira Knightley’s portrayal of Elizabeth Bennet catapulted her to international stardom. Along with critical acclaim, her performance earned several award nominations, including one for Best Actress at the Academy Awards. The film’s success showcased her acting prowess and established her as a sought-after leading lady.
Keira Knightley’s collaboration with director Joe Wright didn’t end with Pride & Prejudice. They worked together on multiple projects, including Atonement in 2007 and Anna Karenina in 2012. Along with period drama roles, Knightley starred in the highly successful Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
In 2003’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Keira Knightley’s portrayal of Elizabeth Swann alongside Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow and Orlando Bloom’s Will Turner contributed to her status as a box office draw. Knightley also starred in 2011’s A Dangerous Method, 2013’s Begin Again, 2014’s The Imitation Game, and 2018’s Colette.
Keira Knightley’s most recent project was the historical crime drama Boston Strangler. Written and directed by Matt Ruskin, the film tells the true story of the Boston Strangler who killed 13 women in the 1960s. Knightley stars as Loretta McLaughlin, the reporter who broke the news. The movie was released by Hulu in March 2023.
Fans who prefer less violent stories can catch Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice on Netflix.