Jane Austen and zombies? It started as a book and now we have the film. Haters can just exit this blog now because this is an Austen-adaptation friendly zone.
Purists have been bemoaning the new “Pride + Prejudice + Zombies” film, even before we got trailers and promotional photos. I’ve seen every permutation of “Austen would roll over in her grave” on Twitter and message boards.
After seeing the film tonight, I agree. Jane Austen would roll over in her grave. And then she’d crawl out to see this film. Don’t get me wrong, she wouldn’t have adored it, but she would have appreciated the tongue-in-cheek nods to romance and zombie films.
PPZ takes a stab at both genres, offering Austen fans whole chunks of her exact words and zombie flic junkies a whole lot of gore. There’s also a pretty decent plotline, if you care for that sort of thing in your entertainment. (I enjoyed the Wickham storyline. It added the unexpected for those of us familiar with Pride and Prejudice, and created more tension in the universe of the movie.)
The Bennet sisters are highly accomplished in the art of fighting the undead, but not as proficient in love. Lizzy and Darcy dance around each other with deadly force (no, really) and Collins does his best to awkwardly skip his way into our hearts. When I first saw the cast announcement I was skeptical, but halfway through I was so immersed in the movie I wasn’t thinking about my initial misgivings. Lily James is a great badass Lizzy opposite Sam Riley’s broody Darcy. Lena Headey judges all with her one eye as the war-hero(ine) Lady Catherine. Jack Huston is a swarthy Wickham, but Matt Smith steals the show as Collins. I refuse to spoil too much of his performance because it had everyone chortling, but his dancing is incomparable.
With a mix of pastoral sets and heavy machinery, the overall look of the film is what I hope folks will call Regency Punk. (And you bet your ass I’ll be cosplaying as a Bennet sister this year.) Lizzy and her sisters are decked out in fine weaponry and empire-waisted dresses with high slits, perfect for the zombie-fighting lady of refinement. At one point pants are worn (GASP!), but it makes sense for the conditions that they would wear combat-ready clothes. People who are nitpicking the costumes in this film are missing the point. Everything from the script to the costuming feels like it was done in good fun.
And I guess that’s my main takeaway from the film: it’s fun! Purists need to loosen their stays a bit and zombie fans may need to steel themselves for the romance, but folks left the theater smiling and cheerfully chatting.
A lot of the folks in my screening were younger (I even got called “lady” by a high schooler, oy!), but they gasped and laughed at the zombie slaying and the canonical dialogue. I honestly think a lot of them will be more open to Austen works after watching this.
My biggest argument with people who are poo-pooing this film (without even watching it) is that there are constantly Austen-adaptations being made, but this one happens to have zombies. If this helps introduce young people (and maybe old too) to Jane Austen, then I am perfectly happy about it. For most folks their only exposure to Austen is in a classroom, and even I’ll admit I wasn’t a fan when forced to read her in that dull setting.
If you still aren’t convinced, here are some of my favorite moments:
- “Oh fuddle”
- Bingley’s impeccable highlights
- Someone partying like Drunk Austen at Netherfield
- The lake scene (which is amusing to all who love the 1995 BBC version)
- Darcy’s midnight angst duels
Who should see this: my Drunk Austen compatriots
What you should drink with this: a slushie, unless your theater allows alcohol, and in that case I think sangria is a perfect match.
- Admin B