By Sabhya Kumar:
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice continues to thrive in literary circles for reasons more than one, whether it’s the revolutionary Lizzie Bennett or the egoistically enigmatic Mr Darcy. Generations of women will remember and cherish the alpha male, in the form of the aristocratic Darcy. As legions of film makers attempt to immortalise the classic, we explore the best and the worst adaptations of the Victorian original.
1. Pride and Prejudice (BBC’s TV Miniseries): Undoubtedly, the best remake of any book, of any period of time, anywhere. Colin Firth oozes charm as Darcy to Jennifer Ehle’s headstrong Bennett. An improvisation over the previous versions, it is replete with historical accuracy, yet maintaining the profound manifestations of their insolent love.
2. Bride and Prejudice: Humble attempt by ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ director, Gurinder Chadha. While it’s obvious that she is enamoured by the plotline of the original, the over use of the Indian American societal construct is a bit of a stretch. The typical perception of India, in the eyes of the West, has more to do with cultural differences than the personal relationship between Lolita and Darcy. Clichéd depiction of both India and the West, left a sour taste in many a mouth. Also, the choreographed dancing was probably a bad idea.
3. Pride and Prejudice (2005): Keira Knightley, obsessed with period roles, donned another Victorian hat. This time, unlike Elizabeth Swann in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, the hat didn’t really fit. There was too much delicacy and simply too much beauty. Lizzie Bennett was notorious for being plain. Not dainty and possibly no one could have imagined the Bennett sisters as veritable goddesses. Somehow somewhere, this seemingly minor incongruity really put me off the movie. Only a complete idiot would ignore the beautiful Knightley, violating the Austenian concept of Darcy falling for her brains and not her beauty. Matthew MacFayden as Mr Darcy was a crushing blow. Frigid and cold, pale in comparison to the Colin Firth we know and love.
4. The Bridget Jones’ Diary: Helen Fielding wrote the books inspired only by Firth’s portrayal of Darcy in the BBC version. It was perhaps the only piece of fan fiction to be published and to amass such popularity! The books are urbanely British and the movies less so. With room for some dramatic license, this is an excellently funny modern adaptation of the original, and even Austen, had she known contemporary humour, would have been proud. Colin Firth plays Darcy again, a role he should consider patenting. Renee Zellweger is one of the most perfect Elizabeths, even though she is called Bridget here. Hugh Grant is devilishly charming and the character of George Wickham, has never been so notoriously loved. This is a holistically entertaining version of the story.
5. The Lizzie Bennett Diaries: Not a movie but a YouTube channel which video logs the Pride and Prejudice story. Ingenious, to say the least, Hank Green and Bernie Su created this masterpiece. Lizzie is outstanding and obstinately so. Darcy leaves a lot to be desired but in its entirety, you have more to love. The actors are perfect, Jane Bennett is as sweet as Austen would have imagined. The idea of video logging the plotline is pure genius. As much as I hate to admit it, the joy of reading has eluded many of my fellow humans. A YouTube video is more educative for them, than a book will ever be. The reach of the story has multiplied exponentially and many can now appreciate its appeal.