WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Talesman

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Talesman

This past week, January 28, was the anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in 1813. So happy 209th birthday!

It’s a beloved book of many readers and it made me wonder how many times it has been adapted onto the small and large screens. I’ll watch any version that I stumble upon… which means I’ve seen some real corkers (sorry, Unleashing Mr. Darcy).

What follows is perhaps a definitive list, with a few extras that some call adaptations but I think merely borrow the names or weave in the characters or themes from Pride and Prejudice. For the sake of brevity, I’ll list the title, year, screen, and actors who played Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. If possible, I’ll include a graphic or, if we’re especially fortunate, a clip.

I’ve likely missed a few, or even quite possibly blocked some I’ve seen from my memory out of sheer survival instinct. Feel free to add to the list in the comments!

Talesman

As, I tell you my Tale, and my Talesman, or Author.

The (mostly, they thought) Direct Adaptations

Pride and Prejudice, 1938, television movie, Andrew Osborn and Curwigen Lewis

Pride and Prejudice, 1938, television movie, Andrew Osborn and Curwigen Lewis.

Pride and Prejudice, 1940, movie, Sir Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson

Pride and Prejudice, 1949, episode from NBC television series The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, John Baragrey and Madge Evans

Pride and Prejudice, 1949, episode from NBC television series The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, John Baragrey and Madge Evans.

Pride and Prejudice, 1952, television miniseries, Peter Cushing and Daphne Slater (Grand Moff Tarkin as Mr. Darcy?!)

Pride and Prejudice, 1952, television miniseries, Peter Cushing and Daphne Slater.

Pride and Prejudice, 1958, television series, Alan Badel and Jane Downs

Pride and Prejudice, 1958, television series, Alan Badel and Jane Downs.

Pride and Prejudice, 1967, television series, Lewis Fiander and Celia Bannerman

Pride and Prejudice, 1980, BBC miniseries, David Rintoul and Elizabeth Garvie

Pride and Prejudice, 1995, television miniseries, Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle

Furst Impressions, 1996, episode from the PBS television series Wishbone, Larry Brantley (Wishbone, as Darcy) and Dee Hennigan

Bridget Jones’s Diary, 2001, movie, Colin Firth and Renée Zellweger

Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy, 2004, movie, Orlando Seale and Kam Heskin

Bride and Prejudice, 2004, movie, Martin Henderson and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Pride and Prejudice, 2005, movie, Matthew Macfadyen and Keira Knightley

Lost in Austen, 2008, television miniseries, Elliot Cowan and Jemima Rooper

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, 2012-13, YouTube, Daniel Vincent Gordh and Ashley Clements

Austenland, 2013, movie, JJ Feild and Keri Russell

Unleashing Mr. Darcy, 2016, television movie, Ryan Paevey and Cindy Busby

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, 2016, movie, Sam Riley and Lily James

Pride and Prejudice: Atlanta, 2019, movie, Juan Antonio and Tiffany Hines

Long live Pride and Prejudice adaptations!

Adaptations and Accuracy: Literary Favorites from Page to Screen

During my 9th grade year, I was assigned to read and report on Pride and Prejudice over Christmas break. I procrastinated until the final weekend of the holiday, and frantically ran to the city library. While checking out the book, the kindly librarian asked if I’d ever seen the 1940 Laurence Olivier/Greer Garson adaptation of the novel. Thinking I had just scored an easy way out of my assignment, I grabbed the movie as well. One trip home, a bowl of popcorn, and ninety minutes later, I was writing my report.

The next morning, I felt guilty for not following the assignment (yes, I was one of *those* students). I determined I could at least start reading the book so I wouldn’t feel like such a cheater. A mere five chapters in and I knew I’d made a bigger error than not reading the book: I’d picked a movie that was basically nothing like the novel upon which it was supposedly based, save for its title and character names.

I read hurriedly and not altogether carefully, but soaked up enough information to write a bare-bones essay. Two lessons were learned that Christmas break: don’t procrastinate, and don’t trust a movie.

Ironically, I’ve kept a date with Jane every Christmas since. It’s my annual holiday treat to myself to read through Pride and Prejudice, then watch the 1995 adaptation. I chase this with the 2005 adaptation because I could listen to Matthew Macfadyen recite the ingredients on a cereal box.

Oh – there’s one more thing I learned to do. It’s pretty unconventional and probably considered blasphemous: I sometimes read books *after* I see their movie. For some reason, I can appreciate the well-made movies that aren’t not completely faithful to canon as long as I don’t know the canon going in. This plan has allowed me to enjoy North and South, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and The Hobbit. If, however, I read the book first and then try to sit through a less-than-accurate adaptation…well…it’s nothing but a big bowl of disappointment. I’m talking to you, The Scarlet Letter (1995), The Great Gatsby (2013), and Water for Elephants.

Read on and weigh in with your opinion on Mimi Matthews terrific post about accuracy and adaptations…

Mimi Matthews

“If, however, your feelings have changed, I will have to tell you, you have bewitched me body and soul, and I love…I love….I love you.”

(Pride and Prejudice, 2005.)

 Photograph: Focus Features.Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen as Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, 2005.
Photograph: Focus Features.

If you are a serious, literary-minded Jane Austen fan, it may raise your blood pressure a bit to learn that there are many people who believe the above quote was actually said by Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.  Similarly, there are those who are convinced that the famous scene where Darcy leaps into the lake at Pemberley is an accurate depiction of something that Austen wrote on the page.  In fact, as most of you reading this will know, the above lines are said by actor Matthew Macfadyen in the 2005 movie version of Pride and Prejudice and the scene with Darcy…

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