BY KENDALL ERICKSON
With the upcoming release of Jerusha Hess’s Austenland, a film about a woman who has a serious obsession with Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, I take a look back at some of the best Jane Austen adaptations, and discover just why Austen’s novels make such great films.
5) Sense and Sensibility (1995)
I love, love, LOVE this movie! In fact, it’s probably the first Jane Austen film adaptation that I ever saw–though at the time I probably didn’t know who Jane Austen was or understand most of what was going on. Regardless, this is a beautiful film with a perfect cast. Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, and Alan Rickman…you really can’t go wrong. Sense and Sensibility tells the story of two sisters, Marianne and Elinor Dashwood, as they embark on a new life in a new home and experience both love and heartache.
4) Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Starring Keira Knightley as the spirited Elizabeth Bennet, Pride & Prejudice tells the story of a young woman who falls for the rich and powerful Mr. Darcy, a man much higher in class than she. I’m not normally a huge fan of Keira Knightley, but her performance in this movie is actually quite good, and it is one of those films that is just really pretty to look at. Definitely worth the watch.
3) Clueless (1995)
Wait. What is this doing here? Oh yeah, it’s a Jane Austen adaptation! Based on her novel Emma, this movie is easily one of the most popular high-school films of all time. It tells the story of Cher, a popular girl who, despite her appearance and social standing in the high-school kingdom, is very kind and insightful. Seriously, if you haven’t watched this–and I don’t know a lot of people who haven’t–you should! It’s hilarious, I promise; you will “LOL” for real.
2) Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
One of my favorite chick flicks! Based on Helen Fielding’s novel of the same name, a modern adaptation/reinterpretation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, Bridget Jones’s Diary tells the story of Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger), a woman in her 30s who is tired of being single, overweight and completely dissatisfied with her life. Making it her mission to turn things around, she begins writing in a diary, depicting all of her changes and attempts at finding true love. Also starring Colin Firth and Hugh Grant (of course), this movie is definitely worth your time.
1) Becoming Jane (2007)
Sigh. This was back when I still liked Anne Hathaway. (Sorry, see her Oscar speech if you don’t know what I mean.) Becoming Jane is a biographical film depicting Jane Austen before she was famous and explores her relationship with a man named Tom Lefroy. This is based on a series of letters that Jane Austen wrote before she died, and it is actually a good movie, in my opinion, though I think a lot of people tend to forget it even exists. Also, James McAvoy is in it…so, you know, he’s kind of perfect… Give it a shot!