It’s winter so I’ve been rereading and rewatching Austen lately, Gentle Reader.
It’s just a thing I like to do.
I hope you are in no doubt that I am a fan?
And no, I really don’t have a favorite. It genuinely depends on my mood. But since you were wondering…
The Best & Worst Jane Austen Movies!
First a brief foray into how Jane Austen started some of the most popular romance tropes. (And yes, Jane Austen wrote romance novels. FIGHT ME.)
Austen Does Romance Tropes:
- Emma ~ boy has loved girl forever, girl is ignorant AKA friends to lovers trope (bonus some sibling-ish taboo, plus May/December relationship)
- Mansfield Park ~ girl has loved boy forever, boy is ignorant AKA friends-to-lovers trope (bonus some sibling-ish taboo)
- Pride & Prejudice ~ boy and girl meet and instantly dislike each other, sparks ensue AKA enemies-to-lovers trope
- Sense & Sensibility ~ boy and girl meet, are perfect for one another, circumstances tear them apart AKA willful misunderstanding trope
- Northanger Abby ~ girl willfully misunderstands boy and boy’s intentions
- Persuasion ~ girl and boy have a past, mistakes were made that must be rectified, AKA reunion trope
Now, I KNOW there are other adaptations but my restriction is that it has to be readily and easily available (streaming or DVD purchase) in the USA.
So here we go…
- Sense & Sensibility ~ I just really like the 1995 Emma Thompson version, OK? I know it has lots of issues but I love it. I have warm feels about this particular movie. And the casting, the casting! Plus Thompson’s award show speech is KILLER.
- Mansfield Park ~ of all the movies in this list, it’s this Frances O’Connor movie adaptation I rewatch the most. I know many really dislike it, but I adore it, so there.
- Pride & Prejudice ~ I really dithered on this one. I have a whole award show blog post where I dole out my favorites in each role. But the fact remains when I reach for this movie, I usually reach for the mini series with Jennifer Ehle & Colin Firth.
- Emma ~ I go back and forth between the Romola Garai and the Kate Beckensile as Emma. I like them both. But I’m going with Kate’s version from 1996 because it has a better supporting cast.
- Persuasion ~ Anne Elliot is my least favorite Austen main character (yeah yeah) but I will watch Ciaran Hinds read the phone book and Amanda Root’s beautifully subdued performance make the 1995 version a clear winner.
- Northanger Abby ~ if Anne is my least favorite heroine, Northanger is my least favorite Austen. Sorry, I’m just not into it. I’m not wild about any of the adaptations but I like Felicity jones, so I guess that one?
Probably the Most Accurate Adaptations
Since no one does (or should do) a page by page adaptation I’m using accurate in its mathematic way. In this case as close to the spirit, or heart, of the book, according to my personal opinion. What, you want science when movies are involved?
- Sense & Sensibility ~ BBC’s 1981 version it’s weirdly awkward but so is the novel
- Pride & Prejudice ~ David Rintoul is Jane Austen’s Darcy, he might not be YOUR Darcy, but if you read the book, yeah, this is him.
- Emma ~ I really hate to say it but whiney impossible Emma was probably as unlikeable as Gwenny made her. Sigh.
- Persuasion ~ Since I don’t love this book, I’m open to negotiations but I think the Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root version is the most accurate as well as the best.
- Northanger Abby ~ Yeah, I’ve no idea. I only read the book twice.
- Mansfield Park ~ There hasn’t been one yet.
The Sin Bin
- Sense & Sensibility ~ the 1971 one is just appalling.
- Pride & Prejudice ~ This sublimely uncomfortable mormon version. It’s god awful. (Pun intended.)
- Emma ~ We shant talk about the Gwenny version. NO WE SHANT. (Allen Cumming forever, though. But still. In fact, this one has a KILLER supporting cast, but the lead… the lead…)
- Persuasion ~ the 1971 version, shudder.
- Northanger Abby ~ this one is the worst, sigh, but honestly none of them are very good.
- Mansfield Park ~ the 2008 Masterpiece version. OH MY GOD HER HAIR. WHY? Billy Piper’s hair is a sin against all period dramas ever, so I refuse to acknowledge this adaptation.
Also Really Fun
- Bride & Prejudice, I like Bollywood and I cannot lie. Def the best Wickham ever, and I love the songs. There is no chemistry between the two main characters but I don’t really care.
- Love & Friendship ~ I really enjoy the kind of Dangerous Liaisons vibe and absurdest humor.
Other People’s Opinions
- 21 Jane Austen (and Austen-Related) Movies and Miniseries, Ranked
- My favorite Jane Austen film adaptations from Modern Mrs Darcy
- Every Austen Adaptation as of 2014
Hey, you with the suggestions, read this bit!
Yes, I know about the other Bollywood adaptations, Kandukondain Kandukondain, etc.
Yes, I know about the Lizzy Bennet Diaries, Austenland, Bridget Jones, Becoming Jane, Miss Austen Regrets, Jane Austen Book Club, Scents & Sensibility …
I even know about short lived TV series featuring a modern mash-up of all the different characters.
Whatcha take me for, AN AMATEUR?
So which Austen character are you, Gail?
Well, I like to think I’m Elizabeth and I’m a writer like Fanny, but honestly? Most likely Emma. I’m bossy, spoiled, and I like to meddle.
So there it is,
In other news
In the latest episode of 20 Minute Delay Piper and I talk about travel vouchers and how NOT to lose your luggage.
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- Coop de Book for December is Girl Squads: 20 Female Friendships That Changed History by Sam Maggs. (Discussion here.)
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GAIL’S DAILY DOSE
Your Moment of Parasol . . .
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Why Writing is Like Drinking Tea
Quote of the Day:
“I remember reading in one of those historical novels once about a chap – a buck he would have been, no doubt, or a macaroni or some such bird as that – who, when people said the wrong thing, merely laughed down from lazy eyelids and flicked a speck of dust from the irreproachable Mechlin lace at his wrists. This was practically what I did now. At least, I straightened my tie and smiled one of those inscrutable smiles of mine. I then withdrew and went out for a saunter in the garden.”
~ Right Ho, Jeeves, P. G. Wodehouse
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Mostly agree with you about the films. I have bad memories about what the 1940 P&P did to Lady Catherine Dr Bourgh’s character. The BBC TV serials are normally better than the films as it takes 6 hours or so to actually fit in the whole plot; a typical film has the narrative content of a short novella, at best.
However, I don’t really think that Emma is a romance. It could have been but it would then have been called Jane Fairfax and it would be some variant of the Cinderella trope, with Emma as one of the villains. Meanwhile Harriet Smith would give us the secondary romance plotline with the “thwarted by outside interference” trope, a la Jane and Bingley (which it kind of did without making us care too much about the lovers as it was all about Emma screwing up again).
I’m totally with you about Pride and Prejudice. Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth are just perfect. I think it’s one of Masterpiece’s best, really. (Ok, so I’m biased, but, well…)
I actually love Mansfield Park (don’t ask me why, but maybe because the Crawfords are deliciously naughty? Or that Fanny figures them out more or less from the start? I don’t know….), and my favorite adaptation is the 1983 miniseries, mostly because I love the actor that plays Edmund (he was in another BBC series that I really liked, so…)
And yeah, that 80s Northanger Abbey….*shudder*
Some of the newer ones I don’t care for as much, since they’re pretty abridged…and the Billy Piper one….yikes…
Yes, but Jeremy Northam. And Ewan McGregor. But mostly Jeremy Northam.
My vote for best goes to Clueless.
Have I mentioned that I love Emma?