Posted on

Pride and Prejudice Adaptations: A Deep Dive Into a Controversial Topic

In this guest article by a lifelong Austen fan and recent visitor to the Jane Austen Centre, Maya Mehrara shares her opinions on the numerous TV and film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that all true Austen-heads are obsessed with the most beautifully written love story of all time – Jane Austen’s one and only ​Pride and Prejudice. Don’t get me wrong – ​ her other novels are all lovely in their own right. However, for me, ​Pride and Prejudice ​has a special place in my heart. I remember the first time I read it like it was yesterday. I was ten years old, and the day that I first leapt into Lizzie Bennet’s fantastical story, my life changed forever. This sounds dramatic, but it’s true. I can honestly say that we were soul sisters from the start, and since that snowy December day in 2009, Lizzie Bennet and I have been best friends (even if it is only in my imagination). I like to believe that we are both witty, adventurous, and headstrong (to a fault). We fight hard, but we love harder. Every time I re-read her story; I feel like I am visiting an old friend that I have known forever. I will be eternally grateful to my nanny who first brought Lizzie Bennet into my world so many years ago. I will never tire of reading ​Pride and Prejudice, for it has brought me pure joy even in my darkest days.

Whenever I chat about Austen’s works with fellow Austen lovers, it becomes apparent to me that there seems to be absolutely no one who dislikes ​Pride and Prejudice. More specifically, there is no one who loves Austen who dislikes the book version of ​Pride and Prejudice. However, the real debate begins when I talk to fellow bookworms about the numerous film and TV adaptations of ​Pride and Prejudice. Most Austen-heads (including myself) have very strong opinions regarding the subject. From what I have gathered, most people either seem to love the BBC 1995 television version of ​Pride and Prejudice​ (in which Colin Firth famously portrays our iconic Mr. Darcy), or they love the 2005 Keira Knightley film version of our favourite novel.

I would like to finally settle this highly controversial debate on which version is better. I’m just going to say it – I truly believe that the 2005 film of ​Pride and Prejudice ​ is the best adapted version of the classic novel ever made. I feel that Keira Knightley is the only actress who has ever truly captured the essence of our beloved Lizzie Bennet on screen. To be completely honest, I never really loved the BBC version, and don’t even get me started on the absolute disaster that is the 1940 Laurence Olivier version of ​Pride and Prejudice… I promise that I am not all opinion and no substance on this subject. Therefore, I will explain the reasons why I feel that the 2005 version of ​Pride and Prejudice​ takes the crown.

Reason #1
Keira Knightley portrays all of Lizzie’s characteristics effortlessly – she is witty, kind, playful, and yet serious when she needs to be. She emphasizes the deep love Lizzie has for her family and her unique relationship with Charlotte. Keira Knightley depicts how Lizzie is quite stubborn and often misjudges people without realizing it (like someone else we know), but she also emphasizes how Lizzie can recognize her faults. Overall, Keira Knightley’s interpretation of Lizzie is how I have always pictured her, need I say more?

Reason #2
In the BBC version of ​Pride and Prejudice, the portrayal of a character that bothered me the most was (you guessed it) Jennifer Ehle’s version of Lizzie Bennet. First of all, I feel that Ehle’s portrayal of Lizzie was way too serious and stoic! I didn’t see any of Lizzie’s wit and playfulness being depicted at all! Unlike Keira Knightley, her performance lacks character depth and variety. I found her portrayal of Lizzie made her seem somewhat arrogant and empty.

Reason #3
Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy— I truly believe that was one of the best casting decisions ever made. I feel that he played Mr. Darcy to a T! When I see other actors play Mr. Darcy, I often see them fall into the trap of playing him as a heartless, arrogant jerk who hates people and does not display his true feelings for Lizzie until the last five minutes of the movie. However, because Matthew Macfadyen is an extraordinary actor, he did the exact opposite of this. He managed to portray Mr. Darcy as a man who seems arrogant and distant but is actually quite loving and somewhat shy (when it comes to talking about what’s in his heart). I believe that Matthew Macfadyen accurately portrays all sides of Mr. Darcy in his performance, and I think that no other actor could have played Mr. Darcy better.

Reason #4
I know that many people will be offended by this, but I’m just going to say it. Colin Firth just looked constipated as Mr. Darcy for six episodes straight. I know many Austen-heads love him and have cardboard cut-outs of him, but can you really say I’m completely wrong in my observation?

Reason #5
The cinematography alone is unmatched, incredible, and awe-inspiring. The score for the film does not get nearly enough credit; Jean-Yves Thibaudet’s music is simply heavenly, and perfectly aids in telling the story of ​Pride and Prejudice.

Need I go on? For all these reasons listed, the 2005 film version of ​Pride and Prejudice​ is my favourite adaptation of Jane Austen’s renowned novel. However, as much as I love this movie, I am a true bookworm at heart. I can say with complete confidence that there is nothing I love more than curling up underneath a huge weeping willow tree on a sunny day and leaping into the world of early 19th century England. Experiencing Lizzie Bennet and Mr. Darcy’s love story over and over again is truly magical.


Posted on

A Look at The First Photos of Sanditon

The first photos of Sanditon are here

The first official photos of Sanditonthe upcoming production of Jane Austen’s 11-chapter long unfinished novel of the same name, have been released. We were looking forward to it before, but now we’re more excited than ever to see the finished result!

Rose Williams as Charlotte Heywood, courtesy Red Planet Pictures / ITV 2019, Photographer: Simon Ridgway 


Rose Williams and Theo James, courtesy Red Planet Pictures / ITV 2019, Photographer: Simon Ridgway 


Anne Reid as Lady Denham, courtesy Red Planet Pictures / ITV 2019, Photographer: Simon Ridgway  


Theo James as Sidney Parker, courtesy Red Planet Pictures / ITV 2019, Photographer: Simon Ridgway 


I’m very excited that we are bringing the world of Sanditon to the TV audience with such a brilliant ensemble cast, headed by star of the future Rose Williams as our heroine, independent and forthright Charlotte Heywood, together with Theo James as Sidney Parker, our Regency entrepreneur with an aura of danger. It’s been such fun to develop Jane Austen’s fragment into a series – now I’m eager to see our exceptional cast bring “Sanditon” to life.

Andrew Davies, Creator and Screenwriter for Sanditon

The series will be shown on the UK TV channel ITV in this coming Autumn. The series will consist of eight 60-minute long episodes. The series will also be shown on PBS Masterpiece in the 2020 season.

Did these photos of Sanditon intrigue you? For more information about the series, you can read our summary of the cast and the storyline here.


Jane Austen Day with Charlotte

Jane Austen News is our weekly compilation of stories about or related to Austen. Here we will feature a variety of items, including craft tutorials, reviews, news stories, articles and photos from around the world. If you’d like to include your story, please contact us with a press release or summary, along with a link. You can also submit unique articles for publication in our Online Magazine.

Don’t miss our latest news – become a Jane Austen Member and receive a digest of stories, articles and Jane Austen news every week. You will also be able to access our online Magazine with over 1000 articles, test your knowledge with our weekly quiz and get offers on our Online Giftshop. Plus new members get an exclusive 10% off voucher to use in the Online Giftshop

Posted on

Bridget Jones Diary Part 3 – Lizzy Bennet no more? 

Bridget Jones Diary Part 3 – Lizzy Bennet no more? Continue reading Bridget Jones Diary Part 3 – Lizzy Bennet no more? 

Posted on

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Film Reviews

Jane Austen News

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Film Reviews

Continue reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – Film Reviews

Posted on

Austen Superpowers: Finding Yours With Anne Elliot

anne elliot

Anne Elliot: A quiet force to be reckoned with.

Kindly reproduced here with permission from its author, Laurie Viera Rigler, who is also the author of the popular Jane Austen Addict novels.

Lizzy Bennet may be the one with all the flash and sparkle, but one should never underestimate one of Austen’s more reserved heroines, Anne Elliot of Persuasion.

At first glance, Anne may not seem to fit the typical ideal of a cape-wearing, save-the-day superhero, but let’s take a closer look at Miss Anne:

Austen Superpower 1: Grace under Fire.

Who had the presence of mind that no one else had when Louisa Musgrove fell from the Cobb at Lyme?

That’s right; Anne Elliot did. Everyone else was wailing and flailing while she was the voice of calm and reason in the midst of the emergency. She was the one who gave Captain Wentworth calm and rational directions as to how to help Louisa.

Austen Superpower 2: Trusting Observation and Instinct.

Who realized that Captain Wentworth was in love with her–despite his eight years of silence after she broke his heart, despite his ignoring her while happily being the Musgrove girls’ object of worship, and despite everyone else being ready to marry him off to Louisa Musgrove?

You got it; Anne Elliot. Though not by any stretch of the imagination conceited or vain, and despite having been brought up to think of herself as beneath the notice of everyone in her family (aside, that is, from Lady Russell and Anne’s own dear, departed mother ), this gentle soul’s keen gaze penetrated to Captain Wentworth’s very soul. She knew–knew, I say!–that he cared for her again. 

She knew this not from any direct declaration of Captain Wentworth’s, but from the way he talked of the unsuitability of the engagement of his friend Benwick to Louisa, and of Benwick’s inconstancy to Benwick’s fiancee, who died only a short time before.

Austen Superpower 3: The Courage to Act

Anne not only KNEW this, she acted upon it–granted, within the very limited means that a lady of her time was authorized to act, for as Anne herself said of the lot of females in general in the time of Jane Austen:

“We live at home, quiet, confined, and our feelings prey upon us.”

How did she act upon it? She encouraged Captain Wentworth to stay at the concert when jealousy of his rival, Mr. Elliot, was driving him away. She wasn’t successful, but her encouragement may have given him something to think about.

She expressed her feelings about female constancy to Captain Wentworth’s dear friend Captain Harville. She did this not because she knew–which she did not–that Captain Wentworth could overhear her, nor did she do it because she imagined that Captain Harville might repeat her words to Captain Wentworth. No, she acted purely out of a wish to defend the integrity of women’s feelings that she so passionately believed in, and as a mark of her friendship with Captain Harville.



And that was enough to jolt Captain Wentworth out of his comfort zone and into declaring his own feelings.


How can we cultivate our own inner Anne Elliot?

When in doubt, read the book. And/or see the movie(s).

We can also contemplate the following passages to cultivate each of Anne Elliot’s Austen superpowers:

Grace under fire.

Check out Miss Anne in the aftermath of Louisa Musgrove’s fall from the Cobb. This is the girl you’d want by your side in any emergency. Here are some snippets of Anne taking charge while everyone around her falls apart, including Captain Wentworth, who holds the unconscious Louisa in his arms; Louisa’s sister Henrietta, who falls into a faint at the sight of her sister; and Louisa’s brother Charles Musgrove, whose wife Mary is in her usual hysterics. 

Anne not only suggests they fetch a surgeon, but makes sure that Captain Benwick, who knows the area, is the one to do it. As they wait for the surgeon:

Anne, attending with all the strength and zeal, and thought, which instinct supplied, to Henrietta, still tried, at intervals, to suggest comfort to the others, tried to quiet Mary, to animate Charles, to assuage the feelings of Captain Wentworth. Both seemed to look to her for directions.

“Anne, Anne,” cried Charles, “What is to be done next? What, in heaven’s name, is to be done next?”

Captain Wentworth’s eyes were also turned towards her.

“Had not she better be carried to the inn? Yes, I am sure: carry her gently to the inn.”

“Yes, yes, to the inn,” repeated Captain Wentworth, comparatively collected, and eager to be doing something. “I will carry her myself. Musgrove, take care of the others.”

The courage to act.

When Captain Wentworth walked in alone to the concert in Bath, Anne had the courage to approach him and be friendly to him, despite the presence of her formidable father and sister, who had snubbed him previously. It doesn’t sound like much, but for a young single woman whose family had absolutely rejected him as a suitor eight years before and who  herself had been rejected in turn by that man when he returned from the war, Anne’s actions show tremendous courage and integrity: 

Anne was the nearest to him, and making yet a little advance, she instantly spoke. He was preparing only to bow and pass on, but her gentle “How do you do?” brought him out of the straight line to stand near her, and make enquiries in return, in spite of the formidable father and sister in the back ground. Their being in the back ground was a support to Anne; she knew nothing of their looks, and felt equal to everything which she believed right to be done.

Trusting observation and instinct. 

After Anne has a world-changing conversation with Captain Wentworth before a concert in Bath, in which he talks to her, for the first time, about the engagement of his friend Captain Benwick to Louisa Musgrove, she reviews it all in her head, and she doesn’t second-guess her observations at all:

His choice of subjects, his expressions, and still more his manner and look, had been such as she could see in only one light. His opinion of Louisa Musgrove’s inferiority, an opinion which he had seemed solicitous to give, his wonder at Captain Benwick, his feelings as to a first, strong attachment; sentences begun which he could not finish, his half averted eyes and more than half expressive glance, all, all declared that he had a heart returning to her at least; that anger, resentment, avoidance, were no more; and that they were succeeded, not merely by friendship and regard, but by the tenderness of the past. Yes, some share of the tenderness of the past. She could not contemplate the change as implying less. He must love her.

The same keenness of observation serves Anne well with respect to Captain Wentworth’s rival, Mr. Elliot:

Mr. Elliot was rational, discreet, polished, but he was not open. There was never any burst of feeling, any warmth of indignation or delight, at the evil or good of others. This, to Anne, was a decided imperfection. Her early impressions were incurable. She prized the frank, the open-hearted, the eager character beyond all others. Warmth and enthusiasm did captivate her still. She felt that she could so much more depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or a hasty thing, than of those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped.

Doesn’t it make you want to read Persuasion again? Or for the first time? Oh yes, you are in for a treat!

Read on, my dears, and may you be blessed with Austen superpowers!



Austen Superpowers: Finding Yours with Anne Elliot was written by Laurie Viera Rigler – the author of the Jane Austen Addict series.

Visit her at her website

Posted on

Finding Happiness, Austen Style: Party with Bride and Prejudice

Bride and Prejudice

Welcome to the third of a multi-part series of posts on how to lift yourself out of the blues, Austen style.

Kindly reproduced here with permission from its author, Laurie Viera Rigler, who is also the author of the popular Jane Austen Addict novels.


The days are getting shorter. Winter is coming. A dragon has been turned. But are we sad? No. Because we have the cure, and now so do you.

It’s called Bride and Prejudice, the life-affirming, Bollywood-meets-Hollywood tribute to Pride and Prejudice.

Not only is it a clever, spirited, heart-opening adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, but there are also two other very important reasons for you to watch:

1. Nathan Riggs from Grey’s Anatomy. That’s right, Martin Henderson plays Darcy.

2. Naveen Andrews from Lost. He plays the Bingley role.

Need I say more? I needn’t but I will: There’s the gorgeous Aishwarya Rai in the Elizabeth role; Ellaria Sand, that is, Indira Varma, in the Caroline Bingley role; and the most hilarious portrayal of Mr. Collins (by Nitin Ganatra) since David Bamber’s brilliant work in the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle P&P.

Just watch the trailer and see if you can resist. Come on, grumpypants—I dare you.

This film merits a party. At the very least, invite at least one friend over to watch with you. Or have a party all on your own. You deserve it. To prepare:

  • Be sure to bring in plenty of Indian food.
  • And don’t forget to get some floaty scarves to wave around while you dance along with the various musical numbers. That’s right; dance. You didn’t think you were going to be a couch potato, did you? How would that help the endorphins flow?

Keep the party going long after the credits roll: Download the soundtrack.

  • Play it in your car or while commuting to work.
    Play it while you do otherwise boring stuff like folding laundry.
  • Play it just because.
  • And sing along.

Most important: Keep these immortal words from Pride and Prejudice in mind whenever the blue devils strike:
“But Elizabeth was not formed for ill-humour; and though every prospect of her own was destroyed for the evening, it could not dwell long on her spirits…”

This quote is from the Netherfield Ball scene, when Elizabeth first realizes that the then-object of her affections, Mr. Wickham, is a no-show. Instead, she gets stuck dancing with the odious Mr. Darcy. Remember how that ultimately turned out for her? If that doesn’t cheer you up, I’ll give the next two dances to Mr. Collins.
I don’t know about you, but I feel better already.

(Fun fact: Another hit by Bride and Prejudice director Gurinder Chadha, Bend it Like Beckham, is also super uplifting. Make haste and add it to your cinematherapy arsenal.)

Laurie Viera Rigler is the author of the Jane Austen Addict series.

Visit her at her website

Posted on

Jane Austen Adaptations: Behind the Scenes

When the final credits roll on an Austen film, whether you’ve loved it or not, it’s often fun to find out more. What were relationships like on and off the set? Where did they film these great houses? Who designed the costumes? Was the final product true to the script? Were there any extra scenes that were cut?

Fortunately for us, many of the movies do have additional information available.

Pride and Prejudice (1995) boasts a “Making Of” feature on the newest DVD version and the book The Making of Pride and Prejudice by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin answers just about any question interested fans might have.

Sense and Sensibility won Emma Thompson an Oscar for best screenplay when it was released in 1995. During the filming of the movie, Thompson kept a detailed diary of life on and off the set. Both the script and the diary are available in individual and combined formats.

Also produced in 1995, Persuasion’s script by Nick Dear was printed in book format and is occasionally available from used book sellers. That year’s other Austen offering, Clueless, is an updated version of Emma, set in California. The special edition DVD boasts cast interviews and “making of” information.

Scripts were also published of both Douglas McGrath’s 1996 script for the Gwyneth Patrow version of Emma , and for Andrew Davies’s version for TV. That script, along with cast and behind the scenes information was published as The Making of Jane Austen’s Emma by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin. Though out of print, it can occasionally be found in used book stores and on Ebay.

newtvloclgjpgv1417010708.jpegThe 1999 big screen version of Mansfield Park, written and directed by Patricia Rozema, garnered as much negative as positive publicity. Supposedly based on Austen’s early writings and diaries as well as the source novel, it has certainly provoked ample discussion. A script was issued for this production also, and should still be obtainable.

Lastly, if you feel like visiting some of the locations from these various productions, the TV and Film Locations Guide is your essential handbook!

The Making of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s TV and Film Locations Guide and a variety of DVDs and soundtracks are currently available from the Jane Austen Giftshop.

Laura Boyle is a collector of Jane Austen films and film memorabilia. She also runs Austentation, a company that specializes in custom made Regency Accessories.

Posted on

Love and Friendship – Behind the scenes

Love and Friendship – Whit Stillman lets us in on some of the filming secrets.

Love and Friendship

Want a sneak peek behind the scenes of the Making of ‘Love and friendship’? There are interviews, location shots and camera work on show in this handsome 6 minute feature given to us by Curzon Films.

The film scored a remarkable 99% on the Rotten tomatoes site (30.5.16) as well as 7.5 out of 10 on the IMDB site. Not bad for an Austen adaptation. Even Metacritic rated it a creditable 87!

Set in the opulent drawing rooms of eighteenth-century English society, Love and Friendship focuses on the machinations of a beautiful widow, Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale), who, while waiting for social chatter about a personal indiscretion to pass, takes up temporary residence at her in-laws’ estate. While there, the intelligent, flirtatious, and amusingly egotistical Lady Vernon is determined to be a matchmaker for her daughter Frederica—and herself too, naturally.

Many of the staff of the Jane Austen Centre have seen it and have given a resounding thumbs up for this fresh and witty take on Austen’s witty gem.