Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Pride and Prejudice, the modern versions

I love the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It's a tale of a woman falling in love, standing up for her right to marry who she chooses even when it comes to risk, and you can have some healthy debate on the topics: does Elizabeth fall more in love with Darcy for his money? Is it challenging or confirming gender roles?

In the modern world, Austen novels may seem outdated, and if you haven't read the book, you may think you don't know the story. However, Pride and Prejudice has been adapted a number of times in order to reach new audiences. Here of my favourite examples.

Pride and Prejudice - the series

pride and prejudice

A true-to-the-book period drama series starring Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth. This is a fabulous version of the book, with humour, interesting characters, and of course the gorgeous Colin Firth playing Darcy perfectly, and diving into a fountain (can't complain about that). I have seen this series a few times and it is so re-watchable and lovely. It's the kind of thing you might have on in the background at Christmas while you're wrapping presents.

Lost in Austen

austen programme

A silly re-make of the novel with a modern twist. A young girl trades places accidently with the main character from Pride and Prejudice. Not without flaws, but it does have a charm of its own. I wouldn't watch it again and again, but it is quite sweet and harmless.

You've Got Mail

you've got mail

A gorgeous film about modern day love and surprises. The Colin Firth character is played charmingly by Tom Hanks, a slightly loathable bookshop owner with a hidden sweet side and a witty sense of humour.As in the novel, Kathleen Kelly (played by Meg Ryan) despises the Darcy character: Joe Fox. She then begins to learn more about him, not through the words of others as in the original story, but through emailing him directly and realises that he is really in love with her. It is a sweet, adorable story that you can't help but love. The film also gives a nod to it's origins as the two main characters discuss Pride and Prejudice at several points in the film.

Bridget Jones' Diary

bridget jones

Bridget Jones (played by Rennee Zellwegger) is a fantastic character. She has the wit and slight awkwardness you would expect from Elizabeth Bennet, with the feminist attitude to go with it. She is more self-aware than Elizabeth, and spends a greater amount of time analysing her life and behaviour, which I love. This is a clear re-writing of Pride and Prejudice, particularly if you include the second book and film. The love interest is named 'Mr Darcy', and in the film is even played by Colin Firth, who again plays the role flawlessly. As in the original novel, the female character is helped by Darcy secretly, which is later realised by Bridget and she rushes forth to apologise for her mistake and admit he is not proud, but in fact, amazingly lovely. In the first film this takes the form of her realising he didn't cheat on his fiance, and again more clearly in the second film when she realises he actually flew over to Thailand to free her from a prison.
The film has the modern version of Wickham - played by Hugh Grant, who is devastatingly charming and selfish, just as he should me.

Of course, there is the modern film of Pride and Prejudice, but as it involves me using the name "Keira Knightley", I just can't bring myself to talk about it. Suffice to say, I don't enjoy it.

Which is your favourite version of Pride and Prejudice? Are you an Austen lover?

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