…That a single story in possession of a good plot arc, must be in want of a million different movies.
Hello all, I recently decided that I was going to go and watch every Pride and Prejudice adaptation that I could find. So you don’t have to. I’ve done my research and now I’m ready to show you all of the joys and struggles that came out of it.
Before I rate these bad boys, I need to clarify. One of the biggest arguments you can get into with an Austen lover is which version of Pride and Prejudice is the best. Blood will be drawn if you say the 2005 movie with Kiera Knightly to any die-hard fan of Austen stories and will be adamant that the 1995 TV mini-series with Colin Firth is the best of the best. Because of this argument (and because I don’t wanna get attacked for disliking Colin Firth), I’m foregoing both of these beautiful films. I’m going to be talking about the adaptations that are really OUT THERE. The modernized, or almost parody-like versions of this classic story. Let’s hit it.
Unleashing Mr. Darcy (2016)
This is the most classic Hallmark TV romcom I’d ever seen. Set in modern day, our Elizabeth is a school teacher for a rich prep school, so she is salty towards the rich and then goes to live in New York with her aunt to professionally show dogs at shows, and meets the “stoic” and “mean” Donovan Darcy who is a judge at these fancy dog shows. The biggest problem with this rendition? He’s not actually mean or stoic, he’s kinda just an awkward sweet dude and it doesn’t match up with Darcy’s character at all. ALSO, THEY CHANGED HIS FIRST NAME TO DONOVAN? His name is Fitzwilliam, okay?
Favorite Quote: “I’m extremely irritated by how attractive I find you.” -Darcy
Final Verdict: It’s so bad…That it’s kinda good? Like if you were sick in the bed with the flu and your head is all cloudy and you just wanna veg in horrible romcoms made by the Hallmark Channel, then this is perfect for you. Rating: 4/10
Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy (2003)
Setting: Provo, Utah. This is a modernized take with college student Elizabeth and all the other characters being fellow BYU kids or Mormon missionaries searching for a wife. The movie (although it has it’s odd twists to the story) surprisingly sticks with the original plot, however, the characters are the worst I’ve ever seen. You find yourself rooting against both Elizabeth, Jane, and Darcy. The only character that is good is Collins who is horrifically annoying (as he should be). The movie also manages to fit in the LDS religion quite evenly throughout the story, without taking away from the original story they’re trying to copy.
Favorite Quote: *Collins dramatically proposes to Elizabeth. She says no, and he speaks in church the next day* “I had a kind of… funny… encounter with a girl in this congregation, who will remain anonymous, but for the sake of the story, let’s call her… Elizabeth B. No-no, E. Bennett.”
Final Verdict: I never want to see it again, if I’m honest. Once was good enough for life. Rating: 1/10
Bride & Prejudice (2004)
This was actually amazing. A Bollywood-style adaptation filled with song and dance, and let me tell you, the song about Mr. Collins “No Wife No Life” is hysterical. It’s a perfect blend of the tale of girls getting married off by their parents while blending beautifully with the Indian culture. I had no idea there was going to be actual singing throughout and was pleasantly surprised. It’s bright. It’s fun. The only negative is the Darcy absolutely bombs, and you kinda want to hate him. The rest of the movie is amazing though.
Favorite Quote: “You, stop working and you, stop being such a coconut.” -Balraj (Bingley)
Final Verdict: You can bet I’ll see this a few more times in my life. Wanna watch a classic? Wanna watch a musical? Can’t pick which one? Here’s a perfect middle. Rating: 7/10
I’m sure you all are wondering where Bridget Jones’s Diary is gonna be in this list, as it is a very popular modernized adaptation WITH Colin Firth in it as well, but I’m here to tell you that it won’t be shown in this article. I’ve never liked the movie, so I don’t wanna rate it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)
The best. A perfect parody. This British-American historical comedy horror movie has everything: Gorgeous 19th Century garb, martial arts, war, women fighting like the awesome people they are, and of course, zombies plaguing the earth. The basis of this film is that a plague has caused a zombie apocalypse and everyone has had to train to fight them in order to survive. The Bennet sisters are masters in a Chinese martial art form and fight to defend their family, which causes some stupid awesome scenes. Those who hate this movie tend to get lost in the fact that it’s all a joke and gets salty about how dumb it is. Yeah, that’s the point. Darcy’s character purposefully talks lower and gruffer than normal to sound attractive and Elizabeth is shown to be exactly as stark and tough as she is in the original. The best part though is by far Matt Smith portraying Mr. Collins. Complete GOLD, I tell you.
“I shall never relinquish my sword for a ring. The right man would never ask me to.” -Elizabeth
“My daughters are trained for battle, sir, not the kitchen.” -Mr. Bennet
Final Verdict: I watch it frequently with no shame. Love it. Rating: 10/10
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012-2013)
An award-winning, modern-day web series conveyed in the form of vlogs, each episode is between 2-8 minutes long. Created by Hank Green and Bernie Su, this adaptation takes place mostly in Elizabeth’s bedroom as she is making vlogs for her college classes. Most major plot events happen off screen and are later acted out by Elizabeth and her sisters, dressed in costumes. It perfectly shows us as audience members how she sees Darcy before we ever even get a glimpse at who he is or what he looks like, and her biases against him. Although some of the characters are slightly unorthodox, there is not a bad character in this rendition, and they are acted out beautifully. Plus, since it’s just short vlogs on youtube, it’s easy to enjoy in short increments instead of a long movie. I also personally relate to this version of Lizzie more than any other version.
Favorite Quote: “This party is preposterous. I hate dancing. It’s a waste of time, like saying nice things to people. Many of these people seem to be enjoying popular music un-ironically.” -Lizzie pretending to be Darcy
“I’m all for rich, single guys but who is my mom to tell one of us who to marry? What if he’s gay? What if he’s a serial killer? What if he’s a gay serial killer?” -Lizzie
Final Verdict: If you haven’t seen it, you must. If you have, well…Go watch it again. That’s what I’m doing as soon as I’ve finished writing this. Rating: 10/10
Honorable Mention: Austenland (2013)
(Above, JJ Feild) Look at him. He looks like a perfect mix of the two.
This movie isn’t necessarily an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, but it’s amazing. It’s about a woman who’s obsessed with all things Jane Austen, and books an Austen themed resort where you become immersed in the book’s culture, and the actors are characters in the books, hired to not only be Darcy and Co but to give you the “romance you can only find in Austen books.” There are twists you wouldn’t expect right away and some amazing actors. Including, Keri Russell, Jennifer Coolidge, Brett McKenzie (Flight of the Conchords, LOTR, The Hobbit), and JJ Feild (Who looks like an exact mix between Tom Hiddleston and Jude Law).
Basically, if you like Pride and Prejudice, you should just watch this for funsies. Because it’s pretty great.
Annie’s Awards of P&P Adaptations:
Cringe-O-Meter: Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy
Most fun: Bride and Prejudice
Originality: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries
Worst Wickham (But that kinda means best): Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Best Darcy: With humor, P&P&Z. With stoic silence, LBD.
I love you all. Most ardently.
*insert cheeky peace sign* ✌🏻 Bless.