I was going to entitle this post ‘The Problem with America’, because I feel this is important enough to justify such a ‘shocking’ title. However, I am not going to ramble on about all the problems with America, such as how they use 9 planet’s worth of non-renewable resources, or the creation of Lady Gaga. There is something far worse than these trivialities, and it goes by the name of ‘the alternative ending’.
J’adore Jane Austen. In fact, j’adore Jane Austen so ardently that I have a subscription to Jane Austen’s Regency World magazine. Moving on.
Pride and Prejudice is probably the most famous of Austen’s novels, having been adapted into numerous glittering films (to watch with popcorn), and Sunday-evening period dramas (to watch with crumpets). In 2005, Joe Wright took his turn to direct, using the beautiful Kiera Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett, and the sumptuous Matthew Macfadyen as Fitzwilliam Darcy.
I must say, I prefer the 1995 BBC adaptation by Andrew Davies, but he did have 6 hours to play with rather than 2. I still loved this film, but it was the ending that particularly pleased me.
The film’s penultimate scene finds Lizzy and Darcy wandering through the countryside at dawn, finally confessing their love for one another, and kissing in the sunlight. The kiss is divine, because it never actually happens. Our hero and heroine simply move closer and closer until their lips are about to touch, and the scene ends there. It leaves the rest to the heavily over-active imagination of its hopelessly-romantic audience.
The last scene is a brilliant last display of the Austen-esque wit that, beneath the romance, created a parody of 18th-century middle-class life. Here it is, although the clip is fairly long so feel free to skip to 20.00:
Now here is the crux of the thing. Let us have a jolly flick through the bonus material on the DVD. What’s this? An alternative American ending?
Instead of the light-hearted British ending, reminding us heartily that life goes on despite handsome men and romantic walks at dawn, the American ending features an additional scene. To my horror, Elizabeth and Darcy are sitting outside in their nightclothes, discussing pet names and how ‘incandescently happy’ they are.
I was furious. Not only is this horrifically inaccurate (they would not be gallivanting about in their nightclothes), but we are also drowned in sickening romance, much like watching one of those couples in the park who think they are sly, but are basically humping on the picnic-rug.
I apologise to any American readers: I’m sure it wasn’t your idea to corrupt my beloved Austen with these dreadful visions. But I really feel this sort of behaviour ruins these films, by shouting to the audience:
‘Just in case you didn’t understand, they’re in love.’
In conclusion, best leave it to the Brits.
Here it is: