“Pride and Prejudice” in Pop Culture
Since its publication in 1813, Pride and Prejudice has been Jane Austen’s most popular novel. The story of a sparkling and headstrong heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, and Mr. Darcy, a very rich and seemingly rude young man who initially finds Elizabeth “tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me,” received a few respectful reviews, but it wasn’t until nearly thirty years after her death that some critics and her fans began to recognize her enduring artistic accomplishment.
So what accounts for the renewed interest in her work today? We set out to settle this question once and for all by examining her enduring legacy and its effect on popular culture.
1. The 1995 BBC miniseries Pride and Prejudice, starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, is largely considered to be the standard to which other traditional film adaptations of Austen’s novel are held. Watch a well-done and very interesting documentary on the making of the Pride and Prejudice mini-series below.
2. In its first season (1995), the children’s show Wishbone had an episode entitled “Furst Impressions” which was all about Pride and Prejudice. Wishbone, a Jack Russell Terrier, played Mr. Darcy.
3. The film Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) is loosely based on Pride and Prejudice. When Colin Firth was cast in this film, his character’s name was deliberately changed to “Mark Darcy,” in homage to his performance in the 1995 miniseries. Here’s a very funny clip from the DVD extras of Bridget Jones (played by the talented Renee Zellweger) interviewing Colin Firth.
4. A 2001 episode of Futurama involved its characters trapped in various classic novels, including Pride and Prejudice.
5. A successful Bollywood film (complete with musical numbers!) entitled Bride and Prejudice (2004) set the classic story in India, with Mr. Darcy portrayed as a wealthy American hotel businessman.
6. A 2005 traditional adaptation of Pride and Prejudice featured Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfayden. It premiered to mixed reviews, but garnered 4 Oscar nominations.
7. In 2009, author Seth Grahame-Smith combined the classic text of Pride and Prejudice with added scenes of zombie violence to create the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The book made it to #3 on the New York Times Bestseller list, and is in the process of becoming a full-length feature film.
8. At about the same time Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was released, so was the Marvel comic adaptation. No zombies, no sword fighting, no ninja princesses. The exact story as told in the novel, in comic book form.