“Pride and Prejudice” on film

Film adaptations of Jane Austen's 200-year-old masterpiece SLIDE SHOW

Topics: slideshow, Movies, Books, Jane Austen, pride and prejudice,

"Pride and Prejudice" on film

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is almost impossible to adapt to the big screen. Equal parts sedate period piece, erotically charged rom-com, and blistering social satire, Austen’s tale of matchmaking in Regent-era England is too nuanced and complex to condense into film — at least, not without provoking the ire of millions of Austen fangirls and boys.

Despite the difficulties of adapting Jane Austen’s novel for the screen, a number of intrepid filmmakers have taken it on, releasing “P+P”-inspired romantic comedies, animated features, musicals and, yes, even an alliteratively titled porno or two. In honor of the novel’s bicentennial this week, we look back at a few of the best and worst cinematic takes.

So, which film had the spunkiest Lizzie? The most dastardly Wickham? And the most swoon-worthy Darcy? (Hint: He’s the furriest on the list.)



  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 10
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    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).

  • Recent Slide Shows

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>