2017 marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. Her work has been repeatedly adapted for film, television, theatre, and other literary forms, including comic books and genre fiction such as horror.
We talk you through some of our favourite Austen Adaptations (most of which can be found in our Reference DVD collection!)…
One of the most popular film adaptations of a Jane Austen novel was Clueless (available at shelfmark REF 791.437/CLU), a loose and modern version of Emma. Despite its modern setting and changes to the original work, it has been argued that it’s the closest approximation to Austen’s style in cinema so far.
A more traditional adaptation of Emma was Douglas McGrath’s 1996 version starring Gwyneth Paltrow as the titular character (REF 791.437/EMM). It was nominated for Best Costume Design and won the Oscar for Best Music.
Sense and Sensibility
Emma Thompson’s lauded adaptation of Sense and Sensibility (REF 791.437/SEN) was the only film adaptation of a Jane Austen novel to win Best Adapted screenplay Oscar. Thompson had spent five years working on the script. It was also nominated for six other Academy Awards and eleven BAFTAs, and also won Best Film BAFTAs in 1995. It is still considered to be one of the most critically acclaimed adaptation of Jane Austen’s work.
Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice has had more adaptations than any other titles of Jane Austen. The 1995 BBC adaptation (REF 791.457/PRI) is possibly one of the most famous adaptations there has been of Austen’s work. The screenplay was written by Andrew Davies, a BAFTA Fellow, and it starred Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, making Firth a household name.
The miniseries was an inspiration for Helen Fielding and her massive bestseller Bridget Jones’s Diary (823.91/FIE). Regarding Bridget Jones’ Diary’s connection with Pride and Prejudice she writes: “I simply stole the plot… I needed a good plot and that’s why I chose Pride and Prejudice. I thought she wouldn’t mind.” (Helen Fielding interview with Charlie Rose, 1998). It was later adapted into a box office hit, starring Renee Zellweger and, in a clever example of meta casting, Colin Firth as Mark Darcy.
Other takes on Pride and Prejudice include the multi-platform series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which reimagines Elizabeth Bennet as a grad student, and Bride and Prejudice (REF 791.437/BRI), a Bollywood take on the traditional story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy.
Another recent and different adaptation was the parody novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It follows the same basic premise of the complicated path to love that Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy share, except it’s made even more complex by added zombies. This adaptation led to other classic novels being paired with horror tropes such as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and another Austen novel Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.