We all know how much women of a certain age and temperament love BBC’s Pride And Prejudice. I’m one of them. One of you. I taped it off A&E when I was 14 and we rewatched those VHS tapes over and over. Oh yes, tapes. There were two. And if we rewound the bit where Colin Firth emerges, shirt clinging, from a dip in the lake. Well, it’s no different from the lads who have a healthy appreciation for Phoebe Cates in her red bikini, Bo Derek on the beach or whatever it is the kids look at these days. Jennifer Lawrence-shaped things, I’d imagine.
So save your sneers and “cat lady” accusations, fellas. And ladies? Gay dudes who dig period pieces? In vain have I struggled. It will not do. We’re going to talk briefly about nudity and Colin Firth. According to a recent piece in The Guardian Andrew Davies, the writer behind that famous drip-dry scene, originally wrote the shirt and britches out of that scene. He said:
The wet shirt scene was intended to be a total full-frontal nudity scene. Darcy was an actual man but he spent all his time being constrained by demands of society. He’d just spent weeks and months in London being polite with a group of stuffy people. He would have had a few hours in which he could be blissfully alone. It’s a hot day, he arrives at this lake - so I thought he would strip completely off and dive down and just become a creature, an animal, just for once…I don’t know the reason why - maybe they felt it would have taken too long to get him undressed. They could have always cut to him standing on the bank diving in naked so it might have been something about Colin’s anxiety about love handles or something…But it’s kind of nice that it turned out the way it did. The whole thing would have been different. I suspect we wouldn’t have have been allowed to get away with full frontal. I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t.
I’m with Davies, you know. I’m glad it wound up the way it did. I like the BBC’s Pride & Prejudice for Darcy, but for many other reasons behind. Bonnet and waistcoat reasons. Stripping the film of that robs it of the gentility that makes the passion of the story retrained and slow-burning rather than lurid and obvious. Besides, wouldn’t Lizzie have fainted dead away when she saw Darcy’s, er, Pemberley? At the very least, we would have had even more reason to suspect her reasons for marrying him. When she tells her sister Jane that her affections for Darcy “date from my first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley.” Well that’s where we’d snicker and say “huge tracts of land.” Yeah, it’s better the way it is.