In an earlier post, we introduced several film and television adaptations of Jane Austen’s beloved texts. With the holiday season looming, what better way to fill your travel days and evenings at home than with any one of these universally appealing stories. While it’s far from an exhaustive list of the myriad adaptations (and inspirations) that have been made from Austen’s singular voice, you’ll have many enrapturing hours to look forward to.
Emma (1996) — Gwyneth Paltrow stars as the charming and eponymous protagonist who spurns love and marriage for herself, but delights in interfering in the romantic lives of others. Her machinations begin to unravel when she attempts to play matchmaker for a protegee, Harriet Smith.
Emma (1996) — Adapted by Andrew Davies (of the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice fame) for British television network ITV in the same year as Gwyneth Paltrow’s film adaptation, Kate Beckinsale is, in one critic’s words, “the best [Emma] of all.”
Mansfield Park (1999) — The film departs from the original novel in a number of ways and also incorporates aspects of Jane Austen’s life; the result is, in Roger Ebert’s words, “… an uncommonly intelligent film, smart and amusing too, and anyone who thinks it is not faithful to Austen doesn’t know the author but only her plots.”
Northanger Abbey (2007) — Felicity Jones and JJ Feild are a captivating Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney in Austen’s satire of the Gothic genre. The coming-of-age story has the teenaged Catherine confusing her real life romantic entanglements with those in her favorite novels.
Persuasion (1995) — Director Roger Michell wanted to be as faithful as possible to his source material, which extended to the production’s approach to makeup and costumes: the actors wore little to no makeup and clothing was made to appear lived-in, all which contributed to a sense of realism that many period dramas lacked.
Pride and Prejudice (1995) — The most successful and lauded adaptation to date, the 1995 BBC miniseries—directed by Andrew Davies—elevated Colin Firth (Mr. Darcy) to stardom and began a wave of “Austen-mania.” (Jennifer Ehle went on to join the Royal Shakespeare Company, as well as to win Tonys for her work on Broadway.)
Pride and Prejudice (2005) — In order to escape from under the shadow of the 1995 series, the creative team behind the film made an effort to distinguish their interpretation of Austen: the time period was changed from 1813 to the late 18th century (which, in turn, influenced the costuming—hardly an empire waist to be seen!), dialogue was altered to feel more natural and idiomatic, and there was a heightened romanticism to the entire project.
Sense and Sensibility (1995) — With three awards and 11 nominations at the 1995 BAFTAs and seven Academy Award nominations, Sense and Sensibility not only revitalized Austen’s works in popular culture, but is also recognized as one of the best Austen adaptations of all time. Ang Lee directed and Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay—and stars—in this story of the Dashwood Sisters and their journey through love and loss.
Becoming Jane (2007) — A biographical drama that portrays a younger Austen (Anne Hathaway) and her fictionalized romance with Thomas Langlois Lefroy (James McAvoy), whose presence in her life some say inspired the dynamics in Pride and Prejudice.
Bride and Prejudice (2005) — Many of the themes Austen writes about—marriage, dowries, the family as a social unit—are relevant issues in India and Pakistan (both countries have large Jane Austen societies), making Bollywood adaptations incredibly popular. Filmed primarily in English and featuring dialogue in Hindi and Punjabi, this Bollywood-style adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is set in modern India and features Aishwarya Rai as Lalita Bakshi.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) — Director Ang Lee has referred to his sweeping wuxia (a genre of Chinese art concerning the adventures of martial artists) film on various occasions as ‘Sense and Sensibility with martial arts’ and ‘Bruce Lee meets Jane Austen.’ One of the most successful and influential foreign language films in the United States to this day, there isn’t anything explicitly Austenian about it, but it makes a compelling case for a film where “Jane Austen [as a code word is] a wonderful way of living one’s life at its most rhythmically amiable.”
The Primary Stages production of Pride and Prejudice is currently playing through January 6, 2018 at the Cherry Lane Theatre. For tickets and additional information, please visit our website.