Pride and Prejudice slideshow

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    MGM Studios via WIkimedia Commons

    Pride and Prejudice slideshow

    Pride and Prejudice (MGM, 1940)

    One of the first big-screen American adaptations of Austen’s novel, MGM’s “Pride and Prejudice” (1940) pairs British thespians Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier as Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, whose initial dislike blooms into a passionate romance. Although the movie has been criticized by Austen purists for straying from its source material -- major plot points are altered, and a handful of minor characters edited out entirely -- it’s worth checking out for Olivier’s pouty, dusky-lashed Darcy, who smolders so hard he practically burns a hole through the celluloid.

    Screenshot, "Pride and Prejudice" (BBC)

    Pride and Prejudice slideshow

    "Pride and Prejudice" (1995)

    Widely regarded as the most faithful and comprehensive Austen adaptation, this six-part (!), eight-hour (!!) British miniseries is best known for launching the career of Colin Firth, whose performance inspired “Bridget Jones’ Diary” author Helen Fielding to model the heroine’s love interest, Mark Darcy, after him. In a supreme example of life imitating art imitating art, Firth went on to play Darcy in the “Bridget Jones” films. Although all of the actors are solid, Firth’s adorably aloof Darcy established a precedent for future portrayals, not to mention a precedent for women being attracted to men with floppy hair and emotional availability issues.

    Screenshot from "Bride and Prejudice" trailer (Miramax)

    Pride and Prejudice slideshow

    Bride and Prejudice (2004)

    Set in contemporary Amritsar, India, this 2004 Bollywood musical tells the story of Lalita Bakshi (Aishwarya Rai), who thwarts her mother’s attempts to marry her off to a traditional Indian suitor by falling for dashing businessman William Darcy (played by a milquetoast Martin Henderson). While director Gurinder Chadha could’ve easily turned “Bride and Prejudice's" culture-clash story line into a Punjabi “Big Fat Greek Wedding," “Bride and Prejudice” infuses a splash of Technicolor into Austen’s narrative, throwing in lavish musical numbers and an energetic, winking Naveen Andrews (Sayid from "Lost") as Mr. Balraj, the counterpart to the Mr. Bingley character.

    Screenshot, "Wishbone" (PBS)

    Pride and Prejudice slideshow

    "Wishbone" (1995)

    A “Masterpiece Theater” for the elementary school set, the educational PBS television show “Wishbone” starred a wise-cracking Jack Russell terrier reenacting various entries in the Western literary canon. Although the premise alone qualifies “Wishbone” as an overlooked TV classic, it reaches the apex of its creative powers with this episode, which features the titular canine as the dashing Mr. Darcy. Put simply, Wishbone's performance blows Colin what’s-his-name out of the water, his primal energy and smoldering sexual charisma echoing that of a young Pacino (although that could just stand in comparison to the rest of the cast, who seem a bit humbled to be trading Austen’s classic dialogue with a co-star who probably ate his own feces between takes).

    Screenshot, "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries"

    Pride and Prejudice slideshow

    Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012)

    “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” is a modern reimagining of "Pride and Prejudice," featuring Austen's heroine as an adorably neurotic grad student with Zooey Deschanel-esque bangs. Told in the form of vlog posts, the Web series follows Lizzie as she navigates the 21st century world of internships, lunch dates and social media (the characters have their own Twitter feeds, where they field questions from fans and tweet "P+P"-related jokes to each other). The show can be overly self-conscious, but it’s clever and inventive.

    Screenshot (YouTube)

    Pride and Prejudice slideshow

    "Porn and Penetration" (2009)

    No, it’s not actually a real movie; and yes, the explicit come-ons in the trailer (“I assure you, your c**k will be sucked most vigorously”) are a far cry from Austen’s intricately crafted one-liners. But Austen might have approved of this saucy, tongue-in-cheek (or tongue-in-orifice) take on her era’s buttoned-up sexual mores, as well as the simple, absurd perfection of the ending: a prim older woman -- the dreaded Lady Catherine de Bourgh, perhaps? -- muttering an expletive as the camera fades to black. And let’s be honest: No matter how much you love the BBC miniseries, it doubtlessly could’ve been improved with a shot of a bound and gagged Mr. Collins getting spanked with a riding crop.

    Pride and Prejudice slideshow

    Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy (2003)

    One of the dangers of adapting “Pride and Prejudice” is ignoring the wit and commentary in the inevitable transition to rom-com. The trailer for the 2003 LDS revamp, “Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy," plays a bit more like a Julia Roberts vehicle than an Austenian comedy of manners, featuring an adorable heroine who trips over couches and gripes about male troubles. This independent film adaptation is set in Provo, Utah, at Brigham Young University.

    Screenshot, "Pride and Prejudice" trailer (Amazon.com)

    Pride and Prejudice slideshow

    Pride and Prejudice (2005)

    At first, some Austenites objected to this 2005 adaptation’s casting of Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet, presumably because she was considered too much of a glamorpuss to portray a woman Darcy famously deemed “tolerable, but not near handsome enough to tempt me.” Yet Knightley’s sparkling, sharp-eyed Lizzie gives predecessors Greer Garson and Jennifer Ehle a run for their money, metamorphosing on-screen from a petulant young girl into a woman who triumphs over restrictive social norms by confronting life and love on her own terms. Knightley's performance is a gentle reminder of why readers love and identify with Elizabeth: She’s not a flighty rom-com heroine, but a smart, flawed and fiercely independent young woman, trying to carve out a space for herself in a world that tries to deny her the freedom to do so.

    Pride and Prejudice slideshow

    "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" (2009)

    No roundup of “P+P” adaptations is complete without this cult classic by Seth Grahame-Smith, which reimagines Regency-era England as the host of a zombie epidemic. Although the film has been in development since 2009 (with Emma Stone initially rumored to play Lizzie as ninjatastic zombie-killer), as of now there is no director attached to the project. It looks like we’ll have to wait a few more years to see an undead Wickham decapitated by nunchucks (an image “P+P” fans would ardently love and admire, indeed).

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