Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Mr Darcy through the ages (RADIO TIMES)

From Colin Firth's famous lake scene to Laurence Olivier's romantic declaration, we take a trip down memory lane to revisit our favourite portrayals of Austen's brooding hero

Mr Darcy through the ages

Susanna Lazarus
6:27 PM, 28 May 2013

The sight of Colin Firth in his white shirt, breeches and enviable sideburns, emerging from Pemberley's lake certainly stirred the heart of Elizabeth Bennet, not to mention the pulses of countless female viewers across the globe. But while his Mr Darcy remains one of the most iconic in TV history, his portrayal was not the first and is certainly not the last, with the recent announcement that Matthew Rhys will become the latest actor to step into the brooding bachelor's shoes in new BBC serial, Death Comes to Pemberley.

So to celebrate the upcoming three-part adaptation of PD James's Austen spin-off, we thought we'd indulge in a run-through of the finest Mr Darcy's in TV and film history. From Laurence Olivier's 1940s incarnation to Martin Henderson's Bollywood inspired Bride and Prejudice turn, not to mention Matthew Macfadyen's starring role opposite Keira Knightley, here is an essential reminiscence of the very best Mr Darcys...

Laurence Olivier

Even in black and white, Laurence Olivier smoulders as Lizzie Bennet's dashing suitor. After seeing to her sister Lydia's predicament – following her scandalous elopement with deceptive soldier Mr Wickham – Darcy returns to the Bennet household bearing news of Mr Bingley's imminent proposal. But the gallant gent has a surprise of his own up his voluminous sleeve – a second proposal to Lizzie, the outspoken object of his affections. This Mr Darcy has none of the awkward stuttering of latter portrayals – Olivier's smooth delivery and bushy sideburns make for a easy-on-the-eye romantic hero as he shares a smooch with his "dear, beautiful Lizzie".

David Rintoul

Fast-forward to 1980 and David Rintoul was telling Lizzie Bennet "how much I ardently admire and love you" in Darcy's cringe-worthy first proposal. A note to any rich, comely gentlemen readying himself to ask for his loved one's hand in marriage: do not first berate her for "the inferiority of her family, the miserable connection, the degradation and the lack of judgement" she displays. It doesn't go down too well, as can be seen in the following clip...

Matthew Macfadyen

Matthew Macfadyen's turn in Mr Darcy's shoes opposite Hollywood A-lister Keira Knightley was much anticipated – and his frosty presence did not disappoint. Directed by Atonement's Joe Wright, this 2005 silver screen production saw Pride and Prejudice adapted for a 21st century audience, with Macfadyen's brooding presence a rare depiction capable of rivalling Firth's. While his ill-concealed regard for Lizzie emerges later in the film, the following scene sees the pair fire barbed comments back and forth as they dance together during Mr Bingham's Netherfield Ball.


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