If you’re not an Austen fanatic like me, you might not know that Bridget Jones’s Diary is an adaptation of Pride & Prejudice! The third movie in the series (trilogy?), Bridget Jones’s Baby, comes out in theatres today!
Although I think it’s safe to say that the franchise has moved away from anything Austen probably would have written in her day (yay for modernization!), I thought I’d share my top 10 favourite Austen adaptations to celebrate the new film’s release.
10. Northanger Abbey (2007 TV-Mini Series)
Northanger Abbey is basically a spoof. Everyone who was anyone was reading gothic novels in Austen’s time, and this story was her response to the fad. Its silly, but ultimately happy romance will leave you with a warm heart.
9. Pride & Prejudice (1940)
This version of P&P is very well acted – Laurence Olivier is an amazing actor, and Greer Garson does a very good Elizabeth Bennet. But there’s one change made to the story that I think emphasizes the time-period (of the film, not Pride & Prejudice), which makes the story seem more like a fairy tale than the book does. If you’re a sucker for a perfect happy ending, this one might be for you!
8. Clueless (1995)
Not many people know that iconic valley-girl Cher Horowitz was modelled after Austen’s Emma, but you definitely don’t need to be an Austen-proficient to enjoy Clueless. It’s as endearing and ridiculous as the original matchmaking story, all while having the added benefit of being a comedy.
7. The Bridget Jones Series (2001-2016)
Of course Bridget Jones’s Diary is on this list! Another P&P adaptation, with a lot of second-hand embarrassment and relatability in store, Hugh Grant charmingly expands on the Wickham role and Colin Firth is our frustrating-as-ever-but-also-adorable-Darcy. Renée Zellweger as Bridget (Elizabeth) is basically a culmination of all the embarrassing parts of ourselves, mixed with the confidence we all wish for, ampted up to 100%.
6. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012 Web-Series)
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (can you tell I love Pride & Prejudice?) was one of the first of a now long list of amazingly done web-series on Youtube. Ashley Clements brings Lizzy Bennet into the 21st century as a hilarious communications graduate who makes vlogs, incidentally telling the story of her sister (
and her) falling in and out of love, as well as her family’s misadventures. The viewer gets to watch as her character develops, video by video, originally released on a bi-weekly basis.
5. Persuasion (2007)
This adaption has beautiful music, and a great chemistry between the two main characters. Persuasion is one of the lesser talked about Austen stories, so this is definitely worth a watch! (Don’t let Captain Wentworth’s angry expression on the poster turn you away, he’s just pining after his true love)
4. Emma Approved (2013 Web-Series)
While I loved The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I absolutely adored Emma Approved (they’re both web-series made by the same artistic people). Set in the offices of lifestyle coach Emma Woodhouse and her business partner (who does the boring business bits, as Emma would say) Alex Knightley, the story tells of Emma’s ambitious matchmaking endeavours, and all the characters that get wrapped up in them. I love this version because Joanna Sotomura and Brent Bailey have such brilliant chemistry (they’re actually dating irl, last time I checked!), and there’s so much attention given to the character development!
3. Mansfield Park (1999)
This and the next adaptation star Jonny Lee Miller (one of my favourite actors), and they’re both close to my heart. Mansfield Park doesn’t get a lot of attention, but the story is absolutely humbling and finds a really strong female protagonist in Fanny, who narrates her letters to her sister aloud throughout the film. One of my favourite Austen quotes is from this book/film: “Run mad as often as you choose, but do not faint.”
2. Emma (2009 TV-Mini Series)
Emma is definitely one of my top two Austen stories (and not just because my name is also Emma, ha). Everyone always goes on about Darcy, but I would rather have Knightley. This version is very well done, and because it’s a mini-series, really delves into all the plot points. It makes for a lovely afternoon binge-fest. And Romola Garai will always be my favourite Emma!
1. Pride & Prejudice (2005)
This is my all-time favourite Austen adaptation, and one of my favourite movies in general. I could rave about it for literal hours; the cinematography, the music, the acting, the chemistry! I know a lot of people prefer the 1995 version with Colin Firth (nothing against him, I just didn’t like it very much) but Kiera Knightly will always be my Lizzy Bennet, and Matthew Macfadyen will always be my Darcy.
+ PLUS: Becoming Jane (2007) // The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)
Becoming Jane and The Jane Austen Book Club are films about Austen – Becoming Jane is the dramatized/fictionalized tale of romance that took place between Jane Austen and Thomas Lefroy, which has been rumoured to have inspired her while she wrote Pride & Prejudice.
The Jane Austen Book Club is a modern story wherein six women form a book club, each taking on an Austen book per month. Slowly but surely, they begin to see similarities from the stories arise in their lives. The central inspiration of the film sees the characters develop as they ask themselves “What would Jane do?”
I hope you enjoyed this list! Are you planning to see the new Bridget Jones movie? Have you seen any of these films before? I’d be happy to know your thoughts!