For [Jane] Austen," writes scholar Robert Polhemus, "love, like dance, ought to be a rational pursuit, leading to what is pleasurable, useful, and beautiful." He compares Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers doing "Never Gonna Dance" in Swing Time -- they "begin by trying to keep from dancing, but end up joined together in fluid, unified, loving, and lovely motion." He imagines "Elizabeth's motion would be both lively and elegantly poised. Like ballet, good and rational love is a balancing act."
Director Joe Wright's new movie version of Pride and Prejudice is more Gene Kelly than Fred Astaire: more earthy and athletic than balletic. It's not what you expect from the classic tale of a smart single girl without money who falls into love-hate with a wealthy man who seems to be a snob and a prig, at a time when most women needed marriage to achieve independence from their own nuclear families.