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America likes its Pride served sweet

London, Nov. 15: Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s comedy of manners which has become a hit film in Britain, is now repeating its success in America, partially, it is thought, because of a specially-tailored romantic ending.

An eight-minute segment has been added for US audiences who love ultra-happy endings.

British viewers were given a more reserved conclu- sion, with Elizabeth’s father, played by Donald Sutherl- and, giving his consent when Darcy asks for her hand in marriage.

Then, in an expansive mood, he declares of his unwed daughters: “And if any young men come for Mary or Kitty, send them in, for I am quite at my leisure.”

Sutherland said it was decided that US audiences needed a “sweeter film”.

MacFadyen said in an American interview: “You got the more sugary (ending). The Brits hated it.”

The romantic ending was chosen for release after a test screening in a theatre in the US.

Audiences reportedly “swooned” as Elizabeth (played by Keira Knightley) and Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen) kissed on a terrace, as he cooed: “Mrs Darcy... Mrs Darcy.”

The embrace upset the 450 members of the Jane Austen Society of North America, who ridiculed it at a preview screening.

Elsa Solender, who is a member and former presi-dent of the society, said: “It has nothing at all of Jane Austen in it, is inconsistent with the first two thirds of the film, insults the audi- ence with its banality and ought to be cut before release.”

However, USA Today quoted filmgoers yesterday as being delighted with the new ending. Gail Hunt, who lives in Washington, was quoted as saying: “It wouldn’t have been a movie without it.”

Francine Zawatsky of Potomac, Maryland, said she “loved” the kiss. “I was waiting for it. It was such a touching moment.”

After almost earning its cost of about '20 million in Britain, the Working Title film opened in America at the weekend to rave reviews, ahead of a national rele- ase in up to 1,500 theatres next week.

Jane Austen has been a strong draw in America, with Sense and Sensibility grossing '24 million and Emma making '13 million.

Martin Scorsese, director of films such as Raging Bull, Goodfellas and The Aviator, said yesterday that, at 63, he was “getting old” and was no longer interested in making big pictures for Hollywood.

He said he wanted to focus on short films and docu- mentaries such as No Direction Home, his account of Bob Dylan’s early years which was recently shown on BBC 2.

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