A Pride and Prejudice Movie for Everyone

A Pride and Prejudice Movie for Everyone

I’m a firm believer that there is a Pride and Prejudice movie for everyone. Whether you prefer an epic six-hour marathon that’s word-for-word out of the book, a sweet modern-day rom-com, or an action-packed horror movie, there is a screen adaptation of Jane Austen’s most-beloved novel that’s right for you.  Believe it or not, there are no less than 23 movies and TV- series that are either a direct adaptation or heavily inspired by Pride and Prejudice!  Have you seen them all?

 

Historical adaptations:

 

Pride and Prejudice 1995

The six-hour BBC TV mini-series starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle is widely considered by many fans to be the best adaptation.  The dialogue is almost word-for-word out of the book, and the acting, music, and costumes are exceptional. There are a couple of scenes which do not figure in the book (no, my friends, Mr. Darcy coming out of the lake doesn’t actually happen in the book!), but who cares! It is one of the only versions to actually show the double wedding at the end, which is, in fact, implied in the original text. 

Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Pride and Prejudice 1980

Prior to the famed Colin Firth version mentioned above, many fans remember watching the other BBC miniseries that was produced fifteen years earlier, starring David Rintoul and Elizabeth Garvie.  It’s a charming adaptation, similar in style to the other BBC Jane Austen adaptations from that time, which is reflected in the actor’s hairstyles, the pastoral music, and the hazy quality of the film.  If you like nostalgic shows, you might enjoy this version.

Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul in Pride and Prejudice (1980)

Pride & Prejudice 2005

No time for an all-day marathon?  No problem! I like to think of this version as “Pride and Prejudice Lite.”  Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFayden starred in this feature film alongside Donald Sutherland, Brenda Blethyn, and the amazing Dame Judi Dench, to name a few.  Some scenes from the book were necessarily cut in order to fit a 2-hr 15-min movie, but in my opinion, it by no means diminishes the quality of the storytelling.  All the key plot elements are present, and some scenes were given a more picturesque setting than in the book.   This is probably the most romantic adaptation of Pride and Prejudice due to the stunning cinematography, the lush, sweeping music, and the palpable chemistry between the actors.

Matthew MacFayden and Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice (2005)

Pride and Prejudice 1940

This adaptation sometimes gets a bad rap because the costumes are clearly mid-1800’s and not Regency era.  However, the story works just as well set in that time period.  If you’re a classic movie fan, you’ll absolutely love this version, especially the fantastic performance of Greer Garson and Lawrence Olivier as Elizabeth and Darcy!  The directors also added some rather hilarious scenes, including an archery lesson, Mrs. Bennet and Lady Lucas racing carriages to get to Mr. Bingley first, and a surprising twist on Lady Catherine’s visit, all of which made this version even more enjoyable.  Trivia note: some of the costumes used in this production were recycled from Gone With the Wind!

Greer Garson and Lawrence Olivier in Pride and Prejudice (1940)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies 2016

Okay, before you get out your pitchforks, hear me out— I too was skeptical of this one, not being a fan of zombie flicks in general. But after watching it, I found I really enjoyed it.  I like to call this one the “gateway” Jane Austen film.  If you’ve got a partner who’s not so into period dramas, but they like action and horror films, you can say to them, “hey, wanna watch a bunch of hot girls in corsets fight zombies?”  It’s a perfect date movie!  If nothing else, watch it to see the first proposal scene— Darcy literally gets his booty kicked by Lizzy.  And in case you’re worried about the blood and gore— don’t be.  It’s really minimal, and the zombie attacks are more comical than scary. (and if it’s still too much for you, you can always hit the “fast-forward” button over the zombie parts).  Lily James, Sam Riley, Matt Smith, Bella Heathcote, Douglas Booth, and Lena Heady are just a few of the big names to hit the screen in this adaptation. 

Lily James and Sam Riley in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

Death Comes to Pemberley 2013

The only sequel adaptation on my list, this miniseries is set 10 years after the end of Pride and Prejudice and involves a murder mystery in which Wickham is the primary suspect!  If you’ve always wanted to revisit your favorite characters on-screen in an original story, then you’ll like this one. It’s based on the best-selling novel by P.D. James, and has an all-star cast that includes Anna Maxwell Martin, Matthew Rhys, Matthew Goode, Jenna Coleman, and Eleanor Tomlinson. 

Anna Maxwell Martin and Matthew Rhys in Death Comes to Pemberley (2013)

Pride and Prejudice: a New Musical 2020

A live recording of the stage production, this version takes the story and puts it to Broadway-style musical numbers. The lyrics paraphrase the original text, but the comedy and wit definitely captures Jane Austen’s satirical intent. As a big fan of both musicals and Pride and Prejudice, I found this humorous version thoroughly entertaining.  A must-watch!

Mary Mattison and Justin Mortelliti in Pride and Prejudice: A New Musical (2020)

Pride and Prejudice 1938, 1952, 1958, and 1967

Sadly most of the footage from these older BBC adaptations has been lost.  There are a few clips available on YouTube, but unless the BBC decides to resurrect the footage from their archives, we might never see these adaptations in their full length. 

There are some clips on YouTube of the 1967 version, and some photos of the 1958 version.

1958: https://youtu.be/nQ8XkObpGCs

1967: https://youtu.be/4liPlcAVoIY  https://youtu.be/LtQZMHUINGI

Celia Bannerman and Lewis Fiander in Pride and Prejudice (1967)

Modern-day adaptations:

 

Bride and Prejudice 2004

It’s Pride and Prejudice, set in modern-day India (with side visits to London and Los Angeles), and made over as a Bollywood musical. The plight of several unmarried daughters fits well in a culture where arranged marriage is still common, and where marriage and family are embraced as central components of a happy life.  The cross-cultural barriers between the main characters made for a great addition to the economic disparity between them. In this version, Darcy is an American hotel mogul, while his friend, named Balraj instead of Bingley, is a barrister from London.  This is a really fun movie, especially the musical dance numbers and the colorful costumes.

Aishwarya Rai and Martin Henderson in Bride and Prejudice (2004)

Pride and Prejudice: a Latter-Day Comedy 2003

Set in modern-day Utah, Elizabeth Bennet is an aspiring writer who works in a bookstore.  One of the film’s novelties is that Jane, Mary, Lydia, and Kitty are Elizabeth’s roommates, not her sisters, and only Lydia and Kitty are sisters of each other.  The film plays up on the humorous aspects of the story, with many funny moments thrown in purely for comedic value. I especially liked the quotes from Pride and Prejudice which served as chapter markers throughout the story, and the scenes which show Elizabeth’s fanciful imagination.  I was also pleased that each character seemed to get the happy ending that they truly deserved, including some endings not found in the book. 

Kam Heskin and Orlando Seale in Pride and Prejudice: a Latter-Day Comedy (2003)

Pride & Prejudice: Atlanta 2019

If you yearn to see Austen’s work adapted with a stellar all-black cast, then look no further than Pride & Prejudice: Atlanta.  Lizzie Bennet (Tiffany Hines) and Will Darcy (Juan Antonio) face off against each other as a community activist and a politician.  Jane (Raney Branch) is a single mother who is being pursued by pro-golfer Bingley (Brad James).  Reverend Bennet, played by Reginald VelJohnson, is a mega-church pastor who will one day hand his congregation off to his cousin as successor. This was a great modernization of the Longbourn entail that’s often hard to capture in a relatable way.  Jackee Harry gives an amazing performance as Mrs. Bennet, and Victoria Rowell was also fantastic as Mr. Darcy’s snooty aunt, Catherine.  This movie did a great job of bringing all the key elements of Pride and Prejudice into the 21st century in an enjoyable way.

Tiffany Hines and Juan Antonio in Pride & Prejudice: Atlanta (2019)

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries 2012

Arguably one of the best modern-day Pride and Prejudice adaptations, this web series follows Lizzie Bennet, a vlogger, as she chronicles the lives of her and her sisters.  Lizzie is hilarious, especially when she parodies her own mother by dressing up in a big hat and talking with a thick Southern accent. The characters are presented very well, and the modern-day translations are realistic and relatable. This series is a lot of fun to binge-watch!

Ashley Clements and Daniel Vincent Gordh in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (2012)

Pride & Prejudice, Cut 2019

Also released in some countries as “Becoming Ms. Bennet”, this movie is about an American vlogger who gets cast as Elizabeth Bennet in a low-budget adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. The studio hires her because of her social media following, but they threaten to recast her if she fails to nail the British accent required for the role. The story takes place in the two weeks of rehearsals leading up to filming.  Each of the lead actors inadvertently lives out a modern parallel of the P&P characters they are supposed to be playing.   I was thankful that most of the story takes place in a rehearsal setting in modern-day clothing.  The few “Regency” era costumes that are shown were so bad, they only got a pass from me for the sheer fact that they tell us outright that it’s for a “low budget production.”  Aside from that, it was a cute modern-day adaptation, and I enjoyed it.

Lexi Giovagnoli and David Witts in Pride & Prejudice, Cut (2019)

Inspired by Pride and Prejudice:

 

Bridget Jones’ Diary 2001

A fan-favorite among Austenites, Bridget Jones’ Diary takes a loose interpretation of the story.  Bridget, played by Renee Zellweger, works at a publishing house, Pemberley Press, where she pines for her play-boy boss, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant).  Her struggles as a middle-aged single woman wanting to quit smoking and drinking, lose weight, and find love, are relatable to us as modern women.  Colin Firth returns yet again to play a Mr. Darcy character, this time as a barrister by the name of Mark Darcy.  The movie was popular enough to span two sequels and can be dubbed by some people to be a “Christmas movie”, since it starts at Christmas time and ends at Christmas a year later. If you’ve ever dreamed of finding Mr. Darcy in today’s world, you’ll love this story.

Colin Firth, Renee Zellweger, and Hugh Grant in Bridget Jones’ Diary (2001)

You’ve Got Mail 1998

I confess, this is my favorite modern-day P&P inspired movie!  The prideful Mr. Darcy and prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet are seemingly reincarnated in the character archetypes of mega bookstore chain owner Joe Fox and small, family bookstore owner Kathleen Kelly. The movie is actually a remake of the 1940 movie “The Shop Around the Corner”, but also draws heavily on Pride and Prejudice. Kathleen Kelly even confesses to being a huge fan of Jane Austen, saying that she reads Pride and Prejudice every year, and yet her heart still thrills over the question of whether Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy will ever really get together. There are numerous parallels between You’ve Got Mail and Pride and Prejudice, but the biggest one is the “enemies to lovers” concept that this movie elegantly captures.  A fantastic movie that you’ll want to watch again and again.

Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail (1998)

Austenland 2013

It’s every Jane Austen fan’s fantasy vacation: travel to a big estate in the English countryside and spend a week wearing Regency dresses, drinking tea, sewing, dancing, and finding romance with their very own Regency hero!  That’s exactly what Jane Hayes (Keri Russell) does when she wins a trip to Austenland, a resort designed specifically for fans of the eponymous author. J.J. Feild, who previously starred as Mr. Tilney in the 2007 adaptation of Northanger Abbey, appears in this film as Mr. Henry Nobley, a stoic character who resembles Mr. Darcy.  Jane is immediately repulsed by the standoffish attitude that Mr. Nobley displays, preferring the adventurous stablehand, Martin (Bret McKenzie). Jane Seymour also stars in the film as the mastermind of Austenland, Mrs. Wattlesbrook, and we also see a stellar performance by Jennifer Coolidge, who plays the altogether hilarious fellow guest Miss Elizabeth Charming. An Austenesque romantic comedy that you won’t want to miss, my friends.

Kerri Russell and J.J. Feild in Austenland (2013)

Lost in Austen 2008

Stretching the gap between modern-day and historical is the ultimate Darcy fangirl’s dream: a story about a woman from our present day world who gets transported into the world of the book, where she takes the place of Elizabeth Bennet and ultimately falls for Mr. Darcy.  If you’ve ever dreamed of doing just that, then you’ll love this miniseries, as the main character tries desperately to restore order to the story of Pride and Prejudice, while coming to realize that she may have just found her own happily ever after. (Bonus, they recreate the famous “lake scene” to perfection!)

Jemima Rooper and Elliot Cowan in Lost in Austen (2008)

Unleashing Mr. Darcy 2016 

It’s the Pride and Prejudice for dog lovers!  Elizabeth and Darcy are cast as a dog handler and a dog show judge.  Lots of pride, lots of prejudice, and lots of cute doggies.  What’s not to like?  After being let go from her job as a high school teacher due to elitist politics, Elizabeth struggles to fit into the high-society world of dog shows, especially when she continues to butt heads with the aloof Mr. Darcy and his domineering aunt. But as sparks continue to fly, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy begin to realize that they have more in common than they thought.  The plot follows the Pride and Prejudice story pattern fairly well in comparison with other Hallmark renditions.  It was popular enough to garner a sequel (Marrying Mr. Darcy 2018), and a worthy adaptation for Hallmark movie lovers.  There’s even a “wet Darcy” scene of him coming out of the water for those wanting some “eye candy”!

Cindy Busby and Ryan Paevey in Unleashing Mr. Darcy (2016)

Pride, Prejudice & Mistletoe 2018 and Christmas at Pemberley Manor 2016

Love all those cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies?  There’s a Pride and Prejudice for you, too! Both of these movies are less of a modern-day Pride and Prejudice, and more your typical holiday romance with some P&P names slapped on it.  They both have similar, predictable, canned plots, in which the Darcy and Elizabeth characters initially have a minor dislike of each other, but come together in the process of planning a big holiday event.  Are they good modern-day reimaginings of Pride and Prejudice?  Not really.  Are they sweet and lighthearted, slightly-cheesy, but romantic Christmas movies?  Absolutely!  If you’re the type who likes to binge on Hallmark holiday movies all December long, then you’ll probably like these two movies.

Lacey Chabert and Brendan Penny in Pride, Prejudice and Mistletoe (2018)
Jessica Lowndes and Michael Rady in Christmas at Pemberley Manor (2018)

 

Which of these adaptations have you seen?  Tell me in the comments!

-Amanda Kai

30 Responses to A Pride and Prejudice Movie for Everyone

  1. Interesting collection you’ve got here, Amanda. I’ve seen all of the 1940 and 2005 versions, parts of the 1995, 1980, and 1967. I would have loved to have seen all of the 1967, but I read that the BBC reused most of that version and all that’s left are the clips. If that information is accurate, there is no archive which I think is a shame. 🙁

  2. I’ve seen almost all of these adaptations except for the 1980 movie, the Latter day comedy, P&P cut, Atlanta and the musical. Hopefully I’ll find the time to watch the rest soon.

  3. There are also an Italian TV-version “Orgoglio e pregiudizio” (starring young Virna Lisi), 1957, and a Netherlandish TV-adaption “De vier dochters Bennet” from 1961. Both, however, I cannot recommend.
    The 1967 version is completely preserved, yet, alas, one never can view them on Youtube together. Some parts are always left out (in changing order). Pity, for Celia Bannerman is a good Elizabeth. Her Darcy is an excellent actor, too, but a little bit too old in appearance and not really handsome.
    The 1979 version is closest to Austen’s book (with only one major flaw: Elizabeth running to Pemberley and bursting into Darcy’s privacy – a grave violation of both Regency behaviour and Austen’s spirit), suffering only by a lack of funds which results e.g. in a comparatively shabby exterior of Pemberley Manor.
    I love the 1995 version, too, especially because of Jennifer Ehle’s superb Elizabeth. Colin Firth is the type of a modern lover with a touch of softie. His wet-shirt-breast cannot compete with Elliot Cowan’s impressive body. But Colin Firth certainly has a charme of his own.
    The 2005 adaption in my view is mostly disappointing (Sorry, I know that it is rather popular in the USA whereas I am an Austrian professor).
    1940: Not Austenish but a wonderful Screwball comedy.
    “Lost in Austen” and “Bride and Prejudice” are favourites of mine.

  4. Thank you for sharing a lovely post! Love the many screen versions of Elizabeth and Darcy.
    Fun looking at the photos.

  5. Bridget Jones is middle-aged???
    She’s barely 35. That may be middle age in Jane Austen’s time, but surely not in 2001 when Bridget Jones’ Diary was released.

  6. Wow! You really gave us something to watch when we have nothing to do on a Sunday afternoon. LOL! Several of these I have seen [many times]. A few I had read the book but not watched the movie adaption. And you have given me lots to consider for my viewing pleasure since I didn’t know they existed. Thank you for the recommendations. Blessings, stay safe, and healthy during these difficult times.

  7. Of the modern ones, I loved the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I have a friend who teaches high school English and I told her about it, and now she has her grade 12 kids watch the show as part of the P&P unit. I also enjoyed P&P&Zombies. It was silly and campy, but so much fun.

    My fave, though, is the 1995 mini-series. You can just get so much more into a 6-hour-long production than a 90-minute movie.

    • I agree, the 6-hour versions are able to pack in so many details that the others can’t. But I’m glad that we have so many versions out there that are shorter for a nice movie night too!

  8. The 1980 version is still my all time favorite. I loved the chemistry between David Rintoul and Elizabeth Garvie. It was very fateful to the novel which I liked.
    Christmas at Pemberley is another favorite. I watched it again lately. You’ve got mail is another film I love but I never considered it in the light of Pride and Prejudice. Interesting take that.

    • I didn’t know that You’ve Got Mail was inspired by Pride and Prejudice either until years after I watched it, when someone mentioned it online. Then once I began analyzing it, I could see the clear parallels between the characters and the progress of the story. It has long been one of my favorite rom-com’s of all time though.

  9. A great list! There’s also a lower budget adaptation called “Before the Fall” which I feel quite accurately adapts some of the core themes of the original story to a modern lgbtq2s+ setting. Featuring two male leads. Worth adding to the list I think!

  10. Thanks for the fantastic list! The only thing missing is the classic Wishbone episode “Furst Impressions” starring Wishbone as Mr. Darcy himself.

    • That was such a cute episode! For simplicity, I didn’t include single episodes of other TV series that had a P&P theme. But Wishbone is probably the cutest Darcy. 🙂

  11. Thank you for listing all the adaptations. There are some I’ve missed. My favorites are the 1940 and 1995 versions. And the modern-day You’ve Got Mail. The Unleashing Mr. Darcy I thought was great, as I’m a dog lover, and it was enjoyable watching the rom-com Austenland 2013. The two Hallmark offerings mentioned are among some of my favorite Hallmark movies that I’ve seen. Now, I need to see if I can find the others you mentioned that I haven’t seen. Wish me luck!

    • It took me a while to track them all down! I watched some of them on HBO Max and on Vikv . net. Some you have to buy on Amazon Prime or another movie service, as they’re no longer free on Prime or Netflix.

  12. I have not seen A Latter Day Comedy, or sadly, the lost BBC adaptations. I haven’t even heard of A Latter Day Comedy, so I am searching for it now. We seem to generally agree on the worthiness of each version. For a modern adaptation, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is excellent! Thanks for the list and commentary.

  13. Becoming Ms. Bennet is the only one I have not seen.

    For many years, I was a national media literacy consultant to school districts, who wished to teach their students to “read” visual literacy in the same manner we read a book.

    I have a fairly good listing of the various versions of all her stories, beginning in 2019 and working backwards. You can see it HERE: Jane Austen Adaptations: Film, TV, Web, and Stage https://reginajeffers.blog/2019/01/07/jane-austen-film-adaptations/

    • That’s great, Regina! It’s so nice to have master lists like these for fans to enjoy. I love the idea of having a visual library for students to enjoy. So many students struggle to comprehend the themes in classic literature, but having a film adaptation makes it come alive for them. It’s not a replacement for the books, by any means, but is a wonderful way to enhance the literacy experience and inspire people to go back and read the original book and understand it better.

  14. I have seen the PBS production and the movie with Keira Knightley as well as the Hallmark movies and all are good.I have seen You’ve got Mail but I never knew it was a version of P+P! I have also seen Austenland. Pride, Prejudice and Zombies I will have to look into!lol I read Bridget Jones Diary but never saw the movie so there’s another one to look into!

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