Adaptation Reviews: Pride and Prejudice

In my last post, I wrote a review on the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Since then, I have watched three different adaptations of this work, and I have enjoyed all of them! Below are my thoughts.

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Credit: BBC and PBS

 

Title: Pride and Prejudice
Aired/Released: 1995
Medium: TV Series
Starring: Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle
Run Time: 6 episodes (ranging from 49 to 53 minutes each, totaling up to 5 hours 27 minutes)
My Rating: 9/10

Ah yes, the famous adaptation featuring Colin Firth as Darcy. Of course, I had to cover this one first! (And give a quick shoutout to that famous, or should I say infamous, lake scene.)

I actually didn’t watch all of this series but instead only saw parts during my English class, and based on what I saw, I think that the two greatest aspects of this adaptation are that it is so faithful to the source material and that all of the actors perfectly understood their characters. Firstly, I have to admit that maybe I am too cynical when it comes to adapting works of literature into other forms of media. I understand that the new medium has its own advantages and disadvantages, but often, the transition can cut out important parts and/or completely alter the story (in a bad way), which can cause me to immediately lose interest. But with this adaptation, I really appreciated that the meaning of Austen’s work still remained intact despite this transition. As to the acting, I applaud the cast, for their portrayals accurately reflected the best and worst parts of their characters’ personalities.


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Credit: Focus Features and Working Title Films

Title: Pride and Prejudice
Aired/Released: 2005
Medium: Movie
Starring: Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen
Run Time: 2 hours 9 minutes
My Rating: 8/10

While this adaptation may not be as faithful to the book as the 1995 version, I still enjoyed this movie quite a lot. This time, the story is actually set during a slightly earlier time period (around when Jane Austen started writing Pride and Prejudice during the late 1700’s, rather than the early 1800’s when the novel was published). I do think that this version has a bigger emphasis on the romantic aspect of the plot, but I wouldn’t say that it suffered because of that. Of course, there are the inevitable comparisons with the BBC version, but I believe both adaptations can stand on their own merits. Once again, the acting was great (and interestingly, you can actually recognize a number of now-famous movie stars starting out their careers by playing secondary characters). The cinematography is gorgeous, and ultimately, even if the movie has its moments of wish fulfillment and sappiness, the story still stands strong.


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Credit: Pemberley Digital

 

Title: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries
Aired/Released: 2012-2013
Medium: Web Series on Youtube (along with extra features on other social media platforms, such as Twitter and Tumblr)
Starring: Ashley Clements, Julia Cho, Daniel Vincent Gordh, Laura Spencer, Mary Kate Wiles
Run Time: 100 episodes (ranging from about 3 to 8 minutes each)
My Rating: 9/10

When I first found out about this series, I certainly had my doubts. A modernization? Of Pride and Prejudice??? It seemed an impossible feat. However, I’m glad to say that I was proven wrong. After watching this, I can guarantee you that all of the wit and heart of Austen’s book still remains, even after the characters have been transported to the modern day, given social media accounts, and become American.

Yet there are still changes, which I personally think are for the better. The series boasts much more diversity (for example, Bingley becomes Bing Lee), and characters are more fleshed out (I never thought I would feel sympathetic for Lydia, but I actually did while watching). The events that occur are modernized, but they, and their consequences, are equivalent to what would happen in Jane Austen’s era. Lastly, one more thing I must compliment: the extension of the story beyond just Lizzie’s vlogs. The creators give you a fully immersive experience by running social media accounts and separate vlogging channels that belong to the characters, and this greatly helps to make the characters feel more “real”. Through these other platforms, you get to learn about the events that occur that Lizzie doesn’t witness. Ultimately, it’s another strong adaptation that is able to successfully make the novel seem fresh and relatable to a modern audience.

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