It is a truth universally acknowledged that a book like Pride and Prejudice must be in want of an adaptation! It was written over 200 years ago but the adaptations aren’t dying down because it’s JST (just so timeless). There are classic versions like the BBC miniseries and the “Keira Knightley one” and then there are looser adaptations like Bride & Prejudice and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Consider yourself a P&P fan? How many of these 12 adaptations have you seen?
First thing’s first – it’s not true to the book. If you’re a purist – STAY AWAY. Although if you’re that much of a snob then none of the adaptations will really satisfy you so just stop reading right now. This was one of the first adaptations and starred Laurence Olivier as an acceptable Darcy and Greer Garson as a likable Elizabeth. They “Hollywood-ified” the movie and set it in a later time period because apparently Regency costumes weren’t opulent (OTT) enough! As a cost-cutting measure, they used leftover costumes from Gone with the Wind – hoop skirts, puffed sleeves and goofy bonnets. Another thing they changed from the original was that Lady Catherine only pretended to be disgusted by the union but was actually Team Delizabeth. If you take this for what it is – a humorous period romance with some pretty epic costumes – you’ll have a ball.
How Dreamy is Darcy? You’d think being in black and white would diminish his dreaminess. It doesn’t. Olivier has an adorbs bum chin, killer eyebrows and old-timey swag.
I’ll warn you straight up – this TV series didn’t have much of a budget. If you can get past the dodgy lighting, cement-floor-sets and questionable acting, you might be able to enjoy it. Although David Rintoul has his faults, he’s a pretty good Darcy and Elizabeth Garvie is an impressive Elizabeth (and does an epic eye bulge during the first proposal scene). The 1995 adaptation borrows a lot from this version so I have to give it props for that. Watch out for the illustrated titles at the start of every ep – they’re very dated but pretty awesome!
How Dreamy is Darcy? He’s too tanned for a British nobleman, as stiff as a board and wears too much Chapstick. But it’s not all bad – he’s got a good head of hair and when he eventually cracks a smile, it’s pretty endearing.
I’m not going to lie – this is by far my favourite adaptation. When I hear Pride and Prejudice, I think Colin Firth. His portrayal of Darcy in this BBC miniseries is perfect – from aloof, arrogant and proud to sympathetic, honourable and heroic. Jennifer Ehle is also great as Elizabeth – fiesty, playful and witty. As I mentioned above, this version borrows a lot from the 1980 TV series in terms of the way scenes are filmed and how the screenplay is arranged. However, the budget is significantly bigger so the costumes and sets are detailed and realistic and a lot of it was filmed on location (including the famous lake scene at Pemberley). You can actually go and visit some of the locations on a guided tour!
If you haven’t already, check out our Darcy Vs. Thornton Showdown post for a fun and GIF-loaded battle of the top hats!
How Dreamy is Darcy? The ultimate Darcy dreamboat! CF possesses a natural energy that is intoxicating. I mean if you want physical attributes, there’s his effortlessly stylish hair, his epic sideburns, his twinkly eyes and a kissable bum chin (Darcy bum chin #2). Also he rocks a top hat and overcoat like he’s working for Dolce and Gabbana – the Regency years.
Not only does this loosely adapted modern-day movie have dearest, loveliest Colin Firth again (the character of Mark was actually based on Firth’s portrayal of Darcy in the BBC miniseries) but it has Hugh Grant as an incredibly spot-on Wickham (Daniel Cleaver) – cocky, flirty and a complete prick. Props to Renée Zellweger for putting on weight (and a pretty good British accent) for the role – she’s a very comical and relatable version of “Elizabeth”. Look out for a cameo by 1995’s Bingley (Crispin Bonham-Carter) as an employee at the publishing house Pemberley Press!
How Dreamy is Darcy? See above but replace top hat and overcoat with reindeer turtleneck.
Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy? If you’ve never heard of this movie, you’re not alone. I stumbled across it in a newsagents’ bargain bin a few years ago. The Mormon aspect confused me at first but it actually makes total sense when you think about it. It’s a modern day adaptation but a lot of the original aspects of the book still work – e.g. going to church and no sex before marriage. Apart from a couple of mentions of scripture, some dowdy modesty panels and the fact that it is set in Utah, you couldn’t even tell that it was an LDS movie. Being an independent film, the budget wasn’t very big but they did well making it look like Mandy Moore’s flashy Candy music video (bright colours, “trendy” 00’s outfits and Volkswagen beetles). Although Kam Haskin and Orlando Seale had great chemistry as Elizabeth and Darcy, the highlight for me was Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite writer) as Steve the Scottish celebrant of The Wee Chapel on the Strip in Las Vegas.
How Dreamy is Darcy? During the scene in the bookstore where he says, “I like you. I don’t know why”, I found myself thinking the same thing. He’s appealing but I’m still not really sure why.
Gurinda Chadha is a genius. A couple of years after she wrote, produced and directed Bend it Like Beckham, she gave creative birth to the Bollywood-style musical movie masterpiece Bride & Prejudice. It’s set in India and has a primarily Indian cast with the exception of the Darcys and Wickham who are American and British respectively. They’re pretty creative with the names of the characters with some changing to match a similar Indian name – Jane becomes Jaya, Caroline becomes Kiran and Mr. Collins becomes Mr. Kholi. The musical numbers are super catchy and, like the film, don’t take themselves too seriously (case in point, a lyric from No Life Without Wife: “I just want a man who gives some back, who talks to me and not my rack”). The cultural divide between Elizabeth/Lalita (Aishwarya Rai) and Will Darcy (Martin Henderson) is a great addition and makes for even more drama since Mrs. Bakshi/Bennet doesn’t want her daughters to marry non-Indians, no matter how rich they are!
How Dreamy is Darcy? Look, Darcy needs to have curly hair. That’s just a fact of life. But apart from that major oversight, his blue eyes and cheeky grin did win me over.
Can you believe it’s been 11 years since this movie came out? It still feels really new. They decided to set this earlier and made it look a lot more “rustic” than every other adaptation (aka Elizabeth wears a lot of brown). There are some fantastic additions – lots of hauntingly beautiful shots of the British countryside, a cool time lapse where Elizabeth spins around on a swing and an unforgettable, sexually charged proposal in the rain. Keira Knightley is a really spot-on Elizabeth and although Matthew Macfadyen is quite an odd choice for Darcy, I think he works. The casting for this movie is probably the best of all the adaptations – with Judi Dench as the ultimate Lady Catherine – imposing, outspoken and scary (especially her hair) and Rosamund Pike as one of the only appropriately gorgeous and sweet Janes.
How Dreamy is Darcy? Again with the straight hair *eyeroll*. Meanwhile, welcome bum chin #3! Do the casting agents list that as a requirement? His deep voice is pretty jarring and he’s not as traditionally handsome as Colin Firth but after the rain scene, all of that ceases to matter.
A modern-day woman obsessed with Pride and Prejudice plonked right into the middle of Pride and Prejudice? So fun! The whole TV series is just LOL after LOL with hilarious Regency-life tidbits (cleaning teeth with chalk), unlikely deviations from the original story (a terribly misunderstood character and a secretly gay character) and the constantly inappropriate behaviour of Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper). Elliot Cowan definitely has the jerk aspect of Darcy’s character down! If you ever watch P&P and find yourself getting angry or frustrated and yell at the screen, you will love Lost in Austen. Amanda represents us, the WOWD (women obsessed with Darcy) and says exactly what we’re thinking.
How Dreamy is Darcy? Two words: Lake scene. No, not the one with Colin Firth. This is another one. A longer, musclier, shirt-clingier one.
This adaptation was targeted at the younger generation of vloggers and vlog-watchers who may never have heard of Pride and Prejudice (yes, I’m serious – a lot of the viewers had no idea it was a web series based on a book). It’s such a great idea – Lizzie Bennet (played by the versatile Ashley Clements), an American mass communications student, speaks directly to the audience and in 100 episodes (each roughly 5 minutes long) plays out the entire P&P story. Although Lizzie is the main star, we do get to see Lydia (mega props to Mary Kate Wiles on her epic portrayal of the “energetic” younger sister), Jane and Charlotte regularly and other major players like Darcy, Bing Lee (he’s Asian – clever, right?) and Ricky Collins pop in every now and then. You never really feel like you’re missing out on anything because Lizzie dresses up and reenacts scenes that occur off-camera (typically as her mother who has a thick Southern accent).
How Dreamy is Darcy? Out of 100 episodes, he’s in only 11 and a lot of the time his head is cropped. But those 11 episodes were very good to us. There’s one where he’s in a hipster uniform: red check shirt, tie and suspenders. I dunno about you, ladies, but it works for me!
If those last few adaptations were a bit too fluffy for you, this one might be more your cup of tea. I mean, you can tell from the title that’s it’s not a LOL-fest. It’s a TV series set 6 years after Pride and Prejudice. Darcy and Elizabeth are getting ready to throw a ball for their friends and family when an unexpected death occurs and throws the whole house into a frenzy. I don’t want to spoil too much of it but I will say that Matthew Rhys plays Darcy so well – as I said, it’s grittier and under the circumstances, he’s a lot more of a grouch than usual. Anna Maxwell Martin is not as fiery as a lot of other Elizabeths but she’s got a strength and protectiveness that I really liked. Worth noting that this adaptation is the only one with a sex scene! Don’t worry, guys, they’re married so it’s totes legit.
How Dreamy is Darcy? I don’t even find Matthew Rhys that attractive but there’s just something about this angry portrayal of Darce… He struts in and out of rooms and yells at people and I love it. Also, please take a moment to enjoy this.
This is a very loose adaptation. I mean, it’s a Hallmark movie. If you’re after a cinematic masterpiece, this clearly isn’t what you’re after. It’s the kind of movie you watch when you’re at home sick…or if you’re like me and you live on guilty pleasure movies, when you’re at home on a Friday night. Elizabeth (Cindy Busby) loses her job as a high school English teacher and steps in to help out a friend on the competitive dog show circuit (yes, I’m serious) where Donovan Darcy (Ryan Paevey) is one of the judges. Cue the sexual tension, flying sparks and a bunch of well-trained dogs.
How Dreamy is Darcy? VERY. He might be too pretty to be a good Darcy but that doesn’t mean he’s not nice to look at. Hot tip: there’s a lovely pool scene with very little bathing suit material present.
As someone who loves both romantic period movies and supernatural action movies, this was right up my alley. Lily James plays Elizabeth brilliantly, with fire, sass and awesome moves. Sam Riley, like MacFadyen, is another bizarre choice for Darcy – not traditionally handsome and non-curly hair but has great chemistry with the leading lady. The first proposal scene is lots of fun – Elizabeth starts throwing objects at Darcy and they end up fighting each other in the parsonage sitting room, breaking chairs and rolling around on the floor. Fellow Melbourne girl Bella Heathcote (Jane) did a stellar job of defending herself against the brain-slurping undead as did the other machete-wielding Bennet sisters. It is Matt Smith, however, who steals the show as the highly-strung, highly-offensive and highly-humorous Parson Collins. Another cross-adaptation casting is Sally Phillips as Mrs. Bennet – she previously played Shazza in Bridget Jones’s Diary.
How Dreamy is Darcy? I’d say medium-to-high level dreamy based on his ability to kick zombie butt so effortlessly!
Okay, so this isn’t actually a traditional adaptation of Pride and Prejudice but there are a lot of the same themes! Keri Russell and JJ Feild have buckets of chemistry as Jane “Erstwhile” and Henry Nobley, a couple of people living in a Jane Austen “resort”.