“It is a truth universally acknowledged that this book is well worth a read.”
One of the challenges is to read a book with a movie adaptation. For this I chose Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Since reading the book, I realised I have actually seen three different adaptations.
Firstly I’m going to talk about the book itself. As many of you know, Pride and Prejudice is a love story from the early nineteenth century concerning Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy. Their love is not without hurdles and they have to conquer both societal and personal issues. On a basic level, the main stumbling blocks for them are Elizabeth’s pride and Darcy’s prejudice. However, they also have to deal with societal expectations as portrayed in the book by Lady Bennet’s worry about not marrying the girls off the wealthy men, Lady Catherine’s worries about her nephew marrying beneath him, Miss Bingley’s similar worry of her brother marrying someone too poor, and Wickham’s deceit. It also shows, through the relationship of Charlotte Lucas and Mr Collins, that romantic love does not always dictate a marriage, but also, through Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship and that of Jane and Mr Bingley, that love can conquer so many obstacles.
Firstly I watched the 1995 TV adaptation, starring Colin Firth. I think this version is my favourite as it is the most faithful to the book. I think the characters and the storyline are very close to how Austen intended them. I got the same feel for the characters watching this as I did reading the book. I thought both the Elizabeth/Wickham and the Lydia/Wickham relationships were portrayed really well. This adaptation also has my favourite portrayal of Lydia. I think in many other adaptations she can be seen as quite arrogant and uncaring, whereas I think this version perfectly captures her naivity.
The second one I watched was the very famous 2005 movie starring Kiera Knightly. I think this version perfectly captures the feel for the era and the social expectations. It also feels very romantic to me. The entire film felt romanticised and a little less realistic than the 1995 version. It was not so faithful to book, but I think it worked slightly better as a whole than the 1995 version. As a stand alone movie I cannot fault it. As an adaptation, I prefer the one from 1995.
The next adaptation is one of a very different nature. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a 2014 web series set in modern day North America and published on YouTube. It is 100 short episodes long and imagines Lizzie Bennet as a modern day vlogger, documenting her and her sisters’ lives on YouTube. The videos came out twice a week, as though the story were happening in real time. This was an excellent adaptation and so much fun to watch. My favourite thing about it was the decision to not show Darcy in the videos until much later on. The anticipation was almost palpable! Of course the story has been changed in order for it to work in today’s culture, but I think it was changed in all the right ways. Wait until you see how Lydia’s cohabitation with Wickham is approached! I highly recommend watching this web series – it really is a lot of fun.