Boudica was not one of those women. In AD 60, she led a rebellion against Rome that, unfortunately failed. But where that rebellion failed, her legend began.
In 2003, a TV movie entitled Warrior Queen hit the small screen. Starring Alex Kingston as the legendary Queen, the TV movie told the story of Boudica and her quest to rid Great Britain of the Roman conquerors.
I learned about Boudica quite a few years ago. Boudica is to Great Britain as the Founding Fathers are to the United States. She is a national hero revered for her strength and courage as a leader of her people. She is an icon. The problem with this adaptation of her story is that screen writer Andrew Davies (who wrote the screenplay for one of my favorite miniseries, the 1995 Pride and Prejudice), just missed the mark as far as I am concerned. The issue is that while Boudica’s life story is more myth than fact, Davies seemed to rely more on the myth than the known facts.
Anne Shirley is one of those characters. Every little girl who loves books (especially the redheads, myself included) adores Anne Shirley for her spunk, vivaciousness and imagination.
Yesterday, PBS aired a new adaptation of L.M. Montgomery’s classic novel, Anne Of Green Gables. Anne Shirley (Ella Ballentine) is an orphan who has landed in the home of the never married, middle aged brother and sister duo, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert (Martin Sheen and Sara Botsford). Matthew and Marilla requested that the orphanage send them a boy to help them around farm. What they got was a talkative, imaginative and fiery 11-year-old girl whose hair matches her temperament. Matthew is immediately taken with Anne, but Marilla is a little unsure about the new edition to the family.
I adore Anne Of Green Gables. I adore Anne Shirley. Redheads are only 2% of the population. Positive role models, especially for young girls with my coloring are far and few between. Anne Shirley is one of the few that we can call our own. I did not adore this adaptation. The biggest issue is the behemoth that is the 1980’s miniseries with Megan Follows playing Anne. Follow’s Anne Shirley is as iconic as Colin Firth playing Mr. Darcy in the 1995 Pride And Prejudice miniseries. It’s a hard act to follow.
While I did not have an issue with the casting, I had an issue with the narrative. It felt too fast, certain plotlines that are within the book and the previous adaptation were discarded. While I get that it was a 90 minute television movie and not a full miniseries, I just wish there was more meat on the bones, so to speak.
Do I recommend it? If you as the viewer are new to the world of AOGG, then yes. But if not, I would say no. There are too many changes for my taste.
This weekend, the film version of the book was released in theaters. This time around, Lily James and Sam Riley play the iconic would be lovers, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy (now Colonel Darcy). Backing up Lizzy and Darcy is Bella Heathcote (Jane Bennet), Douglas Booth (Mr. Bingley), Matt Smith (Mr. Collins) and Lena Headey (Lady Catherine de Bourgh). Instead of the traditional Pride and Prejudice re-telling, zombies have invaded England and the Bennet sisters must do their part to destroy the unmentionables.
Anyone who knows me knows that Pride and Prejudice ranks as one of my all time favorite books. Like many Janeites, I did buy Pride and Prejudice and Zombies when the novel hit the stores in 2009. I found the book to be a non traditional re-telling of Pride and Prejudice that I enjoyed at the time. Like many film adaptations of novels, certain scenes or characters are cut for any number of reasons. Austen fans who cling to the cannon might not like the movie, but I enjoyed it.
Elizabeth Bennet was always a badass in my mind, she just needed the martial arts training to become that badass. It was refreshing to see women on-screen who can defend themselves and not wait to be rescued. My favorite scenes in the movie were scenes with Mr. Collins. While Mr. Collins has always been a cringe worthy character, Matt Smith made him buffoon like and very funny.
In a brief nod to the 1995 Pride and Prejudice, there is a Darcy diving into the lake wearing nothing more than a white shirt and underpants scene. Anglophiles and Downton Abbey fans, if your on the hunt for other Downton Abbey actors, there is another actor who had a brief role, especially during series 5. His character was unlikable and was one of the reasons for the broken engagement of one the older female characters. Who that actor is and what role he played, you will have to watch the movie.
I also recommend to stay past the initial closing credits. There is a brief scene that asks the question if we will see a sequel in the next few years.
I am the first to admit that I do not see horror movies, but I found this movie enjoyable and entertaining.
Do I recommend it? Of course.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is presently in theaters.
This year, the 1995 Pride and Prejudice turned 20. With any celebration of this kind, there are the usual retrospectives, interviews, reunions, etc.
Published late last year, Jessica Long’s new book, Pride and Prejudice: Your Backstage Pass to Jane Austen’s Novel and Making of the BBC TV Series Starring Colin Firth takes the reader behind the scenes of this now classic miniseries.
I purchased this book, hoping to get some information that I had previously not known before. I did not expect a blow by blow account of the filming. Nor did I expect a tabloid style book containing previously unknown scandalous secrets that have been locked away for two decades. What I received was an extremely skinny book containing information that any experienced Janeite would be aware of. The book is fine for anyone who is new to the world of Austen’s novels and the filmed adaptations of the books.
My problem with this book is that the writing is extremely dry in an almost Wikipedia kind of way. Not that there is nothing wrong with Wikipedia (I use it all the time for various reasons), but for a book like this, I expected the writing to have a little life in it. Granted, Ms. Long is writing as a fan without access to anyone who was actually attached to the production, but to be honest, I felt cheated. Other than a few cosmetic facts, the information in the book can be found easily online.
Do I recommend it? Unless you can get it for free via the library or via an e-reader, no. If I could go back and not pay for it, I would.
There is something to be said about a miniseries that audiences and critics are talking about 20 years after its initial premiere.
The list below is the reasons why it has lasted as long as it has and continues to have a lasting legacy on period drama.
Colin Firth: You knew this was coming. Darcy may have started out as a d-bag, but in the end, you root for him and Lizzy to find their happy ending. And of course, there is the lake scene.
Jennifer Ehle: While Ms. Ehle is part of a long list of actresses to play Austen’s most famous heroine, she was and still is my favorite Lizzie. She in impertinent, intelligent, sarcastic, human but also loves her family despite their flaws and knows herself enough to know whom she would rather spend her life with.
The miniseries is as close to book as you can get: It is as if Jane Austen, wherever she is, was watching over this production. It is absolute perfection.
It still inspires new fan fiction, you tube videos, fan images and brings in new readers to Austen: If after 20 years, the miniseries still brings in new fans, I think they did it right.
Stepping into the formidable shoes of Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth were Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen.
For myself and many others, this film was the gateway drug that led not only to Austen, but other classic literature that we have may previously consigned to dated masterpiece miniseries and books we had to read in school.
While some may argue that the film cannot hold a candle to the 1995 miniseries, I would argue that for all that it lacks, for the most part, it is true to the book. Like many films where the source material comes from a book, certain elements or characters had to be edited or removed due to time constraints. While I still prefer the 1995 miniseries, the film is charming, entertaining and keeps it’s audience engaged.
Helen Fielding’s heroine in Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget Jones is an every woman. Bridget is on the wrong side of 30, single, smokes and drinks too much, flirts with her boss and is far from modelesque.
Published in 1996 and made into a movie in 2001, Bridget makes the rest of us feel better about our lives.
I’ve seen the movie several times over the past 13 years. I just finished the book.
I enjoyed the book, but as often happens when books are made into movies, changes are made to either characters or plot. Pulling from Jane Austen’s classic novel, Pride and Prejudice, Fielding has written a very funny and realistic picture of what it is to be a modern single female adult.
The movie is extremely funny. Surprisingly, Renee Zellweger, an American actress, fits in brilliantly with the English cast. Whomever the casting director was for this movie, they must have had the Janeite community in mind. Colin Firth (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Pride and Prejudice 1995), Hugh Grant (Edward Ferrars, Sense and Sensibility 1995), Gemma Jones (Mrs. Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility 1995), and Embeth Davidtz (Mary Crawford, Mansfield Park 1999) were all perfectly cast.
While I recommend the book, the movie is that much better.
P.S. I’m adding the fight scene, well, just because Darcy never had the chance to properly clock Wickham in the face in Pride and Prejudice doesn’t mean he can’t do it in Bridget Jones Diary.
It is universally acknowledged that Jane Austen never married during her lifetime and ended her stories with the traditional happily ever after. It is therefore, in the eye and the imagination of the reader to create the post cannon life of her characters, in and out of the bedroom.
Inspired by the 1995 Pride and Prejudice, Linda Berdoll continues on with the story of Pride and Prejudice. Over the course of approximately 10 years and three books, starting with Mr. Darcy Takes A Wife , Ms. Berdoll imagines what the married life of Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy would look like.
The responses to her books have been mixed. I know some of my fellow Janeites did not like her books. But for me, I enjoyed them. The writer in me has sometimes asked about the lives of the characters after the wedding vows are complete. Ms. Berdoll answers that question in a way that, for the most part, is true to the characters as we know them. I will be blunt that it is at the end of the day, a fanfiction. A published fanfiction, but a fanfiction nevertheless.
Would I recommend it and did I enjoy it? I would recommend it and I did enjoy it, but that does not mean that this book and the two sequels that follow are everyone’s cup of tea.
Cast: Elizabeth Bennet (Jennifer Ehle), Fitzwilliam Darcy (Colin Firth), Mr. Bennet (Benjamin Whitrow), Mrs. Bennet (Alison Steadman), Lady Catherine De Bourgh (Barbara Leigh-Hunt)
Pros: Colin Firth in clingy pants (that ingenious line is from Lost In Austen, which I highly recommend). Sorry, I had to get that out. Aside from that, Firth and Ehle have solid chemistry. It’s just there, you know that something is going to happen between their characters regardless of how much of the novel the viewer has read. There is so much detail in this adaptation, it is as if Miss Austen was on set during filming. Every actor is perfectly cast.
Cons: The only con that I can think of is that some of the actors were a bit older than their characters, especially the parental figures in the novel. But it’s not really a con because they were so effective as their characters that you forget there may be a 10 or 15 year age difference between the actor and the character.
Cast: Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley), Fitzwilliam Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen), Mr. Bennet (Donald Sutherland), Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn), Lady Catherine De Bourgh (Judi Dench)
Pros: This is a well put together movie. Director Joe Wright and screen writer Deborah Moggach created a very marketable movie that appeals to all, not just the Janeite fandom community. As Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam, Knightley and MacFadyen are both age appropriate and effective in their roles. This was my first real introduction, not just to Pride and Prejudice, but to Miss Austen as well. It works as a gateway to the other novels and overall Janeite fandom.
Cons: It is a 2 hour movie. The difference in making a 2 hour movie versus a 6 hour miniseries is that sometimes story lines have to be condensed and characters have to be cut out.
In conclusion, the winner is…. The 1995 miniseries
I think it’s safe to say that Jane Austen is an icon. Almost 200 years after her death, her books are still staples of libraries and bookstores. Hollywood and modern literature has given us numerous adaptions of her novels over the years.
On one level, it seems easy to re-create her writing. Put the characters in a Georgian era England with Georgian era clothing (or if it is a modern reboot, referencing her characters and story lines), creating an Austen-like story and it seems that success is imminent. But it’s not that easy.
At first glance, Shannon Hale’s novel, Austenland seems interesting. Jane Hayes, a single American woman in her early 30’s, is obsessed and finds solace from her job and a string of failed relationships by re-reading Pride and Prejudice and re-watching the 1995 miniseries of the book. When her aunt dies, Jane receives an inheritance of an all expense paid trip to Austenland, a vacation where one immerses one self in everything Jane Austen.
I saw the movie last year, it was one the of the worst movies I have ever seen. The book is just as bad.
The problem with the book and especially the movie is that the main character is exactly what someone who does not get the nuances and in-jokes of her novels, is exactly what she appears to be. She is single and so obsessed with Pride and Prejudice and Fitzwilliam Darcy that she is incapable of finding real, long lasting relationships. It’s as bad as conjuring up an image of Star Wars or Star Trek fan, a nerdy looking person living in their parents house with no relationships other than their immediate family who spends most or all of their time re-watching the movies or the TV series. This book makes me embarrassed to be a Janeite.