Musical Scoring in Adaptations of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
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Many screen versions of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice have been made over the years. Alongside Austen’s novel, these have been analysed by many scholars. Many of these analyses have focussed on the content, and in the case of the screen versions, the filmic techniques have been analysed. With some exceptions, what has often been neglected is a close look at the musical scoring in the screen adaptations. This paper looks at exactly that: how does the musical medium in the 1995 production and 2005 film contribute to the telling, interpreting and adaptation of the Austen’s Pride and Prejudice? Although the plot in Pride and Prejudice is about romance and several couples end up married, scholars have argued that romance is not the primary theme. Rather, prominent features seem to be characterization, irony and layering of meaning. Adaptors are not required to remain strictly faithful to the original text – which is impossible anyway because of the nature of the two different mediums. They must then choose which elements to keep and which features they will adjust in their versions. Joe Wright’s film focusses very much on the romantic and sentimental edge and his music reflects this. Both the diegetic and non-diegetic music utilises, passionate instrumentation and chromaticism in the melody, in order to support the sentimental atmosphere. In contrast, Andrew Davis’ 1995 series has various functions. Diegetic music is used to convey extra layers of meaning concerning characters actions and at various times maintains the ironic features inherent in Austen’s novel. The music in these two versions of Pride and Prejudice contribute to the interpretation of their respective versions. These versions have different interpretations of the novel and in turn these interpretations can influence our understanding of the novel.