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Film Reviews | Regular Feature Film Reviews Bridget Jones's Diary In Helen Fielding's recent novel Bridget Jones: The Edge ofReason, the sequel to her chart-topping Bridget Jones's Diary, a benign alignment of stars lands the titular heroine an interview with Colin Firth, a.k.a. "Mr. Darcy." Like the majority of the British public, Bridget knows Firth best for his embodiment of Mr. Darcy in BBC's latest televised version of Pride and Prejudice . As she questions the actor, Bridget cannot stop mentally replaying the famous, or infamous, scene where Darcy emerges from a plunge in a lake with a wet white shirt clinging to his semi-exposed torso. It is not surprising that Mr. Darcy's physical presence makes a strong impression on Bridget, considering the prominence given to the character in BBC's adaptation. Significantly, Darcy appears in the very first scene of the series and remains a dominant presence throughout. He rides horses, he hunts, he practices swordplay , he dances, he swims, and, more dramatically, he straggles visibly with the power of his passion for Elizabeth. In a bold effort to purge his love, Darcy throws himself into a fencing lesson , declaring to the viewer, "I will conquerthis." Afterthis sweaty and distraught episode, he rides his horse across the open fields towards Pemberley. As he enters the grounds of his estate, he stops by the lake and dismounts. He then proceeds to strip down to a white shirt and trousers. In a final effort to subdue his emotions , he dives headfirst into the lake. This scene strongly conveys the heightened emotion and physicality of Darcy within the BBC adaptation. As a book and as a film, Bridget Jones's Diary builds on this emotionally turbulent representation ofDarcy. While the diary consciously adapts plot elements and relationship dynamics from Pride andPrejudice, the only character to bear a name from Austen's novel is Darcy, although he has the modern first name of Mark. The hero's name casts the diary as a modernization oíPride and Prejudice, a self-reflective tendency that repeats throughout its entries. One of the more telling incidents is when Bridget discusses television adaptations of famous literary works with colleagues . While most ofher co-workers lament the fact that a "whole generation ofpeople only get to know great works ofliterature— Austen, Eliot, Dickens, Shakespeare, and so on—through television ," Bridget stands up for popular culture and is seconded by Mark Darcy (86). This conversation highlights Bridget's tendency to identify more strongly with representatives of popular, and largely visual, culture than she does with classic literature. Fielding's novel clearly conveys that Bridget's interest in Pride and Prejudice stems from her interest in Colin Firth, due to the influence of the BBC miniseries. This influence carries over to the portrayal ofthe character ofMark Darcy in both the book and the film. References to the character and the BBC miniseries surface throughout Bridget's diary entries. One of the most memorable appears after she reads in a newspaper about Darcy and Elizabeth's—or rather, Jennifer EhIe and Colin Filth's—off-screen affair. She reports feeling "disoriented and worried, for surely Mr. Darcy would never do anything so vain and frivolous as be an actor and yet Mr. Darcy is an actor. Hmmm . . . confusing" (216). The film version of Bridget's diary confuses the issue even further by casting Colin Firth as Mark Darcy. Firth's emotional portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the BBC miniseries directly influences his passionate depiction of Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones's Diary. Bridget's diary begins at the turn ofthe year and highlights her new year's resolutions. The most interesting of these involve her goals for what she wants in a man. She declares that she is going to find a sensible and responsible boyfriend, while avoiding any men who are "alcoholics, commitment phobies, emotional fuckwits, or perverts" (2). However, viewers of the film quickly realize that Bridget is much more attracted to these types of men than she is to sensible and reliable ones. This tension between Bridget's ideals and desires finds articulation in the love triangle ofthe film. She eventually...


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pp. 64-65
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