Monday, 24 October 2016


In Death comes to Pemberley (2013), based on the book by P.D. James, the characters of Jane Austen's classic novel Pride and Prejudice (1813) are caught in a murder case investigation.

This sumptuous BBC period whodunnit is available since October 12 on French Region 2 DVD from Koba Films.

English crime writer P.D. James (Phyllis Dorothy James, 1920-2014) is best known for the Adam Dalgliesh Mysteries (1), 14 novels published between 1962 and 2008. Her other works include The Children of Men (1992), adapted as a 2006 film directed by Alfonso Cuarón. Death comes to Pemberley (2011), her sequel to Pride and Prejudice, is born from her love of both crime fiction and Jane Austen. Of course, Austen is a television favourite and the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (2), starring Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet and Colin Firth as Fitzwilliam Darcy, is a reference.

« It is a fine Pemberley tradition for the master of the house to be irritable on the eve of the ball. »

Aired in three parts on BBC One during Christmas 2013 and later in 2 x 90 minutes on American network PBS, Death comes to Pemberley is directed by Daniel Percival (Strike Back, The State Within) and written by Juliette Towhidi (Calendar Girls). Elizabeth and Darcy have been happily married for 6 years and they have a young son, Fitzwilliam. Elizabeth prepares the annual Lady Anne Ball at their magnificent Pemberley estate (« Ah yes, the chaperones' chairs. Yes, we ran short last year, Mrs Reynolds. ») Darcy’s younger sister Georgiana has two suitors, her cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam and Henry Alveston, a young lawyer. Elizabeth finds time to visit the Bidwell family as Will, the son of of Darcy's head coachman Mr Bidwell, is dying.

Later the Darcys welcome Mr and Mrs Bennet, Elizabeth's parents. Married to the ne'er do well George Wickham (« Am I never to get that man out of my life? »), Lydia, their youngest child, is not invited. But on the eve of the great day she tumbles out of a carriage screaming murder and leads Darcy's search party into the Pemberley woods. There, her husband is found near a dead man, covered with his blood. Darcy has to inform Sir Selwyn Hardcastle, the local magistrate. Thanks to its source material and a convincing cast, Death comes to Pemberley successfully combines two of the most popular TV genres: period drama and crime/detective drama.

« You've brought such laughter to Pemberley, Elizabeth. »

Starring Welsh actor Matthew Rhys (The Americans, Brothers and Sisters) as Darcy, Anna Maxwell Martin (The Bletchley Circle) as Elizabeth, Matthew Goode (Wickham), Trevor Eve (Sir Selwyn), Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who) as Lydia, Rebecca Front (Lewis) as Mrs Bennet, James Fleet (Mr Bennet), Eleanor Tomlinson (Georgiana), etc. James Norton, who plays Alveston, stars in ITV's detective series Grantchester. Colonel Fitzwilliam is performed by Tom Ward (Silent Witness), who played Lieutenant Chamberlayne in Pride and Prejudice. Is there a ghost in the woods of Pemberley? Why is poachers a "delicate ground" between the Darcy and Hardcastle families? Who is the mysterious Mrs Younge?

Produced by Origin Pictures with Masterpiece in association with Far Moor Media and Lipsync Productions. Supported by the Yorkshire Content Fund, Screen Yorkshire and the European Regional Development Fund. Exec produced by Ed Rubin, Joanna Blackie and P.D. James. David M. Thompson and Eliza Mellor are the producers. Steve Lawes is the cinematographer. Music composed by The Insects (Tim Norfolk and Bob Locke). Filmed in Yorkshire and Derbyshire (Chatsworth House was used as the exterior of Pemberley). The one-disc DVD set of Death comes to Pemberley from Koba Films contains the 2 x 90-minute version with the original dialogue track, subtitled or not.

(1) Roy Marsden portrayed Adam Dalgliesh on television from 1983 to 1998 for ITV. Martin Shaw played the character for the BBC in 2003-2004.
(2) Available on French Region 2 DVD from Koba Films.

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