It was the best kiss, it was the worst in 'Pride & Prejudice'

It was the best kiss, it was the worst in 'Pride & Prejudice'


To kiss or not to kiss. That is the tempest brewing among Jane Austen lovers.

North American moviegoers are being treated to a smoochier finale to Pride & Prejudice, which opens wider Nov. 23, from the one playing overseas.

"You got the more sugary one," says Matthew MacFadyen, Mr. Darcy to Keira Knightley's Elizabeth Bennet, of the version that runs 135 minutes — eight minutes longer. "The Brits hated it."

In the U.K. and Europe, the last scene concludes with Elizabeth's father (Donald Sutherland) giving his consent when Darcy asks for her hand and then, being in an expansive mood about his unwed daughters, declares, "And if any young men come for Mary or Kitty, send them in, for I am quite at my leisure."

But when Yanks sat through a test screening, they swooned over an alternate ending where Elizabeth and Darcy kiss in a moonlit haze of post-nuptial bliss on a terrace. "Mrs. Darcy ... Mrs. Darcy," he delights in calling her repeatedly.

Many of the 450 members of the Jane Austen Society of North America, who caught a preview in early October, were so taken aback by the unexpected onslaught of mush that even those who liked the movie up until then held their applause. Or broke out laughing.

"It has nothing at all of Jane Austen in it, is inconsistent with the first two-thirds of the film, insults the audience with its banality, and ought to be cut before release," complains member and former society president Elsa Solender of New York City.

But moviegoers Sunday weren't upset by the cinematic smooch.

"It wouldn't have been a movie without it," says Gail Hunt of Washington, D.C., who liked the movie but missed Colin Firth, who was Darcy in the 1995 BBC miniseries.

Francine Zawatsky of Potomac, Md., says she also loved the kiss. "I was waiting for it. It was such a touching moment."

Willis Ritter of Washington, D.C., who watched the miniseries with his wife and has read the book, found the kiss quite appropriate. "This was obviously right after the wedding night."

None of these first-weekend fans seemed upset that the movie took liberties with the lip lock.

"It's a movie," says Ritter. "I love it, the romance. I think of myself as Darcy and my wife is Jane (Lizzie's sister), because she's a beautiful blonde." He predicts the movie is "going to be huge."

Across the ocean, a U.K.-based petition ( is launching a different kind of smack attack, with more than 500 names requesting that the kiss be included in all DVD releases as well as "a few special screenings on this side of the pond."

Meanwhile, a representative of Focus Features, the film's distributor, says the company is unaware of any online crusade.

The petition, addressed to director Joe Wright and production company Working Title, gripes: "What did us poor Austen aficionados (in the country of her birth no less) do to deserve such injustice?"

Or, rather, such a kiss-off?