Like Emma and it's updated version, Clueless, which also were adapted from Austen novels, Pride & Prejudice captures the power of a romantic tug-of-war. Why is that so compelling that people keep making this movie over and over? Because that's what human beings do: they court and spark, to quote an old Joni Mitchell song. To use another cliché, seldom does the course of true romance run smooth, and Austen knew how to convey that in a way that sucks you in and doesn't let you go until you finish the book or the end credits roll.
There are many good movie and mini-series versions of Pride & Prejudice, but one of my favorites was the movie made in 2005, which stars Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett and Matthew Macfadyen as one of the sexiest actors ever to play Mr. Darcy ever (IMHO). (Colin Firth from a 1996 version is neck-and-neck with him, though.)
On the unsexy end of the spectrum, there's Brenda Blethyn, who played the matriarch, Mrs. Bennett. That comment isn't a reflection on the appeal of actress, who is quite lovely. Her character, however, had a voice that could strip paint. She was well-matched with Donald Sutherland, who played Elizabeth's long-suffering father who somehow cheerfully endures his wife's vapors. And they're all joined by Elizabeth's grab bag of sisters, who run the gamut from classy to bookish to downright twitty.
These and the other well-crafted characters, combined with incredible scenery and well-above-average cinematography, make for an incredible viewing experience on every level. Not only is the movie a feast for the eyes, but it also has the capacity to fill up the empty spaces in your heart and complete your inauguration into the ranks of the romantic film lovers. I challenge you to not be moved by the closing scene. If you've seen this version, you know what I mean. If you haven't, do yourself a favor and see it -- even if it's only the last 10 minutes. It will make your heart go pitty-pat.
Here's the trailer from the 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice: