Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mr. Darcy - Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen?

This is quite a hot topic among the Jane Austen aficionados, me being one of them. If you followed our round robin story earlier in the year you might have guessed that Mr. Darcy is a hero to die for. But which actor best portrayed Jane Austen’s vision?

There are those who favor the Laurence Olivier version, for the acting of course. I watched it the other night, just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, but honestly, I couldn’t get past the Victorian costumes, so for me it is not even in the ball park.

The BBC version did a fabulous job with the scenery and the clothing and the dialogue was so close to the original, you couldn’t fault it. But boy, is it ever looooong. One needs to set aside a week end to watch it. And of course I do.

And the 2005 movie took a completely different take, going earlier, which was in factor correct, since Jane Austen wrote it long before the Regency period. Life at the Bennet household was earthier, more countrified (remember that boar) and the costumes were a bit all over the place, but it appealed to a movie going audience of today.

Colin, of course, had that amazing wet-shirt scene. It set many hearts aflutter. I really liked the scene where he so obviously takes his frustrations out in the fencing gallery. As a writer, I really have to admire the showing in that scene. But was Colin in that role, the Mr. Darcy in my head, the Mr. Darcy I thought Jane Austen wrote about. He certainly achieved the remoteness needed at the beginning, but I never felt he got past that, I never felt that he warmed up.


Matthew seemed to be a young Mr. Darcy. I felt that his character matured during the course of the movie, something a writer is looking for in a protagonist, a character arc. Where he was quite sure of himself at the beginning, he became less and less sure as time went on, and more vulnerable to Lizzie. Which stripped away what he thought about himself, and left him open. I found that very romantic. There is a lightness about the way he played the part, not light weight, but a light touch, which drew me to believe in his character.

I guess you can tell on which side of the fence I ended up on. Who did you prefer? And if you figured it out--why?

32 comments:

  1. Colin Firth. He is my Mr. Darcy, now, forever, and always.

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  2. I'm with you Michelle. I much preferred Matthew in the Mr.Darcy role.

    The 2005 version makes the motivation for Darcy's behavior that he is exquisitely shy, rather than odiously starched up. (I love Regency-speak!)I wonder if the film makers believed a twenty-first century audience would find Mr.Darcy too unlikeable if he were shown as a man confident of his superiority.

    But because the initial scenes show a man who is inept and uncomfortable rather than one who believes himself above his company, Darcy doesn't have anywhere to go. I felt the version missed the whole point.

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  3. Macfadyen is my pick. Got nothing against Colin Firth, but Macfadyen's screen presence is impressive. His take on Darcy made me able to better understand Lizzie's side of things: her initial dislike and gradual dawning of understanding, constantly underscored with attraction. The first time their eyes met and he looked hurriedly away as if burned, I was his.

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  4. I didn't see the movies, Michele (showing my contemporary roots again here) but based on your two photos, I gotta pick Matthew. Colin Firth hasn't done it for me in other movies, so I'd probably feel the same way here.

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  5. Matthew Macfadyen for sure!!!

    I hate to admit it, but I do love the BBC version for it's length and accuracy. I only wish I could superimpose the characters and scenery from the 2005 version into it. I adore Joe Wright's selection of music, backgrounds... everything!!! And the piece de resistance... Mr Darcy himself... Matthew!!! Sigh... there just aren't enough words!!!

    :)))

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  6. WELL!!! Here is a topic I can certainly get all warm and fuzzy about! Ha! Need I even say which Mr. Darcy I adore the most? Perhaps, if you have not gone to my website to checkout what I write! Hehehe....

    I could soooo go on with this topic, but will attempt to restrain myself. As I have said over and over to my various Colin/BBC version friends, it isn't that I dislike his Firthiness or the miniseries, I just think the divine Matthew Macfadyen and the entire movie version showed a passion and honesty and realism that the mini lacked for me. Heck, it completely inspired me to write my Saga, something that I know the CF mini would not have done. The reasons are numerous to me, and Michele hit most of them. Matthew was younger when he played the role, exactly the age that Austen wrote Mr. Darcy to be. Joe Wright chose to accent the vulnerability of his character: a man who was on the one hand mature, responsible, intelligent, worldly, etc., but also shy, filled with sadness, uncomfortable, and utterly overwhelmed by feelings of love. Matthew played that so well, as he has done in other roles. Plus, to be totally superficial, he is just WAY hotter than Colin! Glad to know that most of you agree! :)

    Mary Margret, the filmakers did not think of it as you questioned. It was partially a desire to have an adaptation that was more passionate and earthy for a modern audience. But also just looking at the written text and seeing a different side of Mr. Darcy than just an arrogant a-hole.

    Marie, I am so disappointed in you! You must see the movie! For me. :)

    OK, I'll stop!

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  7. Just thought I would add that if you really like your Matthew Macfadyen, as Darcy or any other character, I have a fabulous Portrait Gallery of photos. Lots of eye candy! Check out the link at my website.

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  8. Wow, seems like I hit a hot topic. I love hearing a writer's take on character and story. I learn so much from each of you, not to mention the fun I'm having after stirring up the nest. lol.

    Thanks for dropping in to give me your picks.

    By the by, I'll be blogging about The Lady Flees Her Lord tomorrow at Yankee Romance Reviewers if you can spare a moment.

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  9. I didn't want to like Matthew MacFadyen, but he won me over almost immediately. Something about that deep voice and how he uses his eyes. His performance sold me on his internal journey much more so than Colin Firth's -- I saw a lot of energy between his Mr. Darcy and Knighley's Elizabeth Bennett.

    I like the 2005 version better as well for it's earthiness, the use of natural light, and the actors. It seemed vividly real to me: the complexions, the homespun fabrics, and the myriad of imperfections. And I liked how young actresses played the younger girls. I wish it could have been longer, though.

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  10. I think Colin Firth and his director NAILED the alpha dynamics. For me, the wonder of Pride And Prejudice is how it is one of the only novels to truly capture alphas in all their glory.

    I HATED Keira Knightly as Lizzie. I haven't yet been able to finish that version. She ain't any alpha, that's for certain.

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  11. I'm with Cheryl. Definitely Colin Firth. He is Mr. Darcy.

    And I totally agree with Kimber. I hated Keira in the role of Lizze. I bought that version of the movie ages ago, and still haven't finished. She is just so NOT Lizzie.

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  12. Big Matthew Macfadyen fan here! And Pride and Prejudice was the first time I saw him in anything. Every little thing he did from his first appearance at the assembly depicted Darcy and his attraction to Lizzie from the first spark to the last kiss. His performance showed SO much about Darcy without words. When Lizzie asked if he danced and he gave that typical aristocratic male answer, only to look down and away as if to say "Idiot! Why did you say that?" It was the subtleties of his performance that made him the quintessential Darcy for me.

    If you want to see him in an absolute riot of a comedy watch Death at a Funeral. OMG! I laughed til I cried!

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  13. Hi Michele,
    Your review is up on Yankee Romance Reviewers. Hope you like it sweetie.
    huggs,
    Terra

    http://yankeeromancereviewers.blogspot.com/

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  14. I loved both adaptions and both Mr. Darcy's but for very different reasons. It is all in the interpretations.

    With that said, if I had to CHOOSE, I would have to go with Matthew Macfadyen's Mr. Darcy. As previous commenters have stated, just what MM does without speaking (his eyes, his facial expressions, etc.) makes him the Mr. Darcy that I envision.

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  15. Terra, what can I say, amazing. Thanks so much. and of course I am so happy you liked the story.
    Hugs

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  16. Thanks Kim, Anna, Ava,Louisa, and Sue, you all make such good points.
    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. lol.

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  17. Can't we take the two of them and morph them into one? Colin Firth had the snobby air down to a T and Matthew Macfayden showed a softer side to Darcy... If we put them together, they'd be the perfect Regency hero! Not so sure how they're faces would morph together... :)

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  18. What? No mention of David Rintoul's portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the 1979 BBC mini-series. He has been called the 'wooden' Darcy by some, but I appreciate his interpretation. I believe that it is the closest to Jane Austen's intension, though I do also like the Colin Firth Darcy. I am not in favor of the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice. I appreciate where they were trying to go with it, but Matthew Macfayden's portrayl was to Byronic for a Regency tale.

    Thanks Michele Ann for the great post!

    Cheers, Laurel Ann

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  19. Colin Firth has always and forever been my Mr. Darcy. His voice alone is enough to make me fall head over heels in love, lust...whatever with him. And those eyes. There are no words.

    I've already gone through three, yes, three copies of P&P. I watch it while I'm folding laundry and have for years.

    My daughters are known to ask, "Why do you delight in vexing me so?"

    Yes, they definitely are Jane Austin fans. Even my son watches with me. God forbid any of them help with the folding.

    Robin :)

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  20. Matthew MacFadyen is the Mr. Darcy I imagine when I read Pride and Prejudice...

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  21. Raquel, you are in Brazil I think. How wonderful and I love the Portuguese language. I have never been to Brazil but was in Portugal two years ago. Thanks for coming by.
    I love your blog.

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  22. Matthew Macdayen all the Way!!

    Michele couldn't have said it any better about Matthew's role as Mr. Darcy. Joe Wright did a great job with his rendition of P&P...but if it only could of been longer, we then would of had more Matthew as Mr. Darcy.

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  23. Hey, April, great you dropped into the party. The votes are piling up for Matthew!

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  24. Matthew has taken my heart away! Through the film he becomes more and more tender, and I can't resist to him!

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  25. Matthew has taken my heart away! Through the film he becomes more and more tender, and I can't resist to him!

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  26. Matthew MacFaden all the way! He was a perfect Mr. Darcy. Just wish the kiss at the end had more passion with the tenderness! But this observation takes nothing away from Matthew.

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  27. MATTHEW MACFADYEN ALL THE WAY! He was a perfect Mr. Darcy. Just wish the kiss at the end had more passion with the tenderness! But this observation takes nothing away from Matthew.

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  28. Matthew Macfayden is an incredible actor and he nailed Mr. Darcy's character. He has such great talent and oh so sexy. His voice is mesmerizing and those eyes and smile. Matthew's ability to take on so many characters throughout his career is indeed commendable. I hope they do a sequel movie to P&P or something similar with Matthew, as it definitely would be a best seller. .Matthew looks great at any age and his credibility as a great actor is solid. He should always be lead actor as he is the one who draws the crowds to the box office.. Perfection in his craft. The one and only Mr. Darcy.

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  29. Matthew is superb, perfect, and of course the best Darcy by far, the one and only indeed..

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  30. Mattew,Mattew,Mattew......
    I love,love..I love you..

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  31. This is an old post but i just want to support my all time fav mr darcy: none other than MATTHEW MACFADYEN..to those who compare him with firth,they are being unfair...firth's darcy appeared in longer hours than macfadyen's..if they made macfadyen's darcy for 10 hours,i swear no one will ever accept darcy in other human form..we just cant get enough of him

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  32. TOTALLY AGREED WITH YOU!!! Matthew was involved completly in Mr. Darcy Character, he engaged with the jane austen idea for the 1800 society protocol that was so diferent, went it comes to pride, money, and conection between the marriege. In my opinion, he encarnated the transition of the proud Darcy for a Darcy in Love propertly and the nonverbal expressions was incredible indeed.

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