Jane Austen Books and Movies
"Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love." Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
This timeless and universal theme, as well as many others, is prevalent throughout the works of Jane Austen. The feelings of love, friendship, loss, and renewal are what draws people again and again to her novels. I love to re-read each one of them. Although the novels are in many ways period books, these emotions, the way Austen's heroins express them, and the different relationships in each book are relatable even today. I love the novels of Jane Austen, and I also love seeing these books brought to life in movies. This is a short review of each of Austen's books and the movies that have been produced and based on them.
Best - I personally like the newest Pride and Prejudice. It came out in 2005 and was directed by Joe Wright. I love the casting, the beautiful scenery, and the music. I was also amazed that he was able to cut down the book into one movie with out losing any of the important parts.
Runner-up - The BBC/A&E 5 hour long version with Colin Firth. If you are a hard core fan, you have to see this! One of my pet peeves is in fact the casting. All of the actors seem too old for the parts to me. I do like this version a lot though.
Honorable Mention - I love the 1940s version. Yes, they changed the ending, but I still like Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier. If you love old films, you gotta see it!
Pride and Prejudice
"Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously.... Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us." Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, 1811
This novel is centered around a family of five girls;
- Mrs. Bennet - The crazy and controlling mother.
- Mr. Bennet - The preoccupied father.
- Miss. Jane Bennet - The oldest, and said to be most beautiful of the sisters.
- Miss. Elizabeth Bennet - The second oldest sister. Described to have beautiful eyes and a quick wit (and tongue).
- Miss. Mary Bennet - The smart, quiet, yet slightly annoying middle sister. She likes to read boring books and play the piano.
- Miss. Catherine Bennet (Kitty) - The fourth sister. She follows her younger and bubblier sister around and coughs a lot, which annoys her mother.
- Miss. Lydia Bennet - The youngest and boldest of the sisters. She likes parties and officers and doesn't have a brain basically.
Possible Love interests
- Mr. Darcy - A rich and somewhat stuck up young man who comes to visit his friend to help him settle into the "country life".
- Mr. Bingly - The friendly, easy going friend of Mr. Darcy who buys his home out in the country. Also rich! $ Cha-ching!
- Mr. Collins - The cousin of the Bennets. He feels like he has to marry one of them in order to keep the estate he is to inherit from Mr. Bennet in the family. He is also the parson of Lady Catherine De Bourgh, an occupation he is ridiculously proud of.
- Mr. Wickham - An officer that is said to be handsome and charming.
The Bennet girls are going to lose all of their property at the death of their father because they have no male heir, no brother. Because of this situation Mrs. Bennet is constantly trying to marry them off. Miss. Elizabeth is the main character and whose eyes you see the story through. Unlike her mother, she is smart and refuses to marry just for the sake of getting married and "securing" her future. It's a great story about her trying to find the right guy despite her crazy family and bad situation, and of course, before she does this she has to over come her pride and maybe some prejudice.
The song was changed, but still very good!
Best - This was a close one, but I'm going to have to go with the 1995 movie. Although Emma Thompson was a little old for the part, her acting was perfect! I also loved Kate Winslet's singing! The scenery was gorgeous as was the soundtrack.
Runner-up - BBC's version from 2008 was awesome as well. I really love the casting. The characters were very true to the book.
Sense and Sensibility
"Elinor was to be the comforter of others in her own distress, no less than in theirs"
- Sense and Sensibility
Main Charcters - This is yet another family of girls, this time lacking a father.
Mrs. Dashwood - A new widow who has lost her estate to the male heir. This is a reoccurring problem in Jane Austen's novels. Mrs. Dashwood is a good mother although not as sensible as her oldest daughter.
Miss. Elinor Dashwood - The oldest sister. She is very levelheaded and always tries to do what is best. She is the "Sense" in this equation. When the family loses their father and all of the property she is the one who keeps everyone together. I love Elinor, she is one of my favorite Jane Austen characters.
Miss. Mary Ann Dashwood - She is the "Sensibility." Mary Ann is ruled by her emotions and is somewhat naïve. I love her ability to love life and everyone around her, but she learns a very hard lesson and eventually becomes more guarded and smart when it comes to life in general.
Miss. Margaret Dashwood - Margret is the youngest and somewhat of a tom boy. She loves hearing about different parts of the world and looking at atlases. She is very young and not as major a character as her older sisters.
Possible Love Interests-
Mr. Willowby - A very handsome well spoken guy. He loves poetry and has a good sense of humor. He also values material things more highly than perhaps even his own happiness.
Colonel Brandon- He is well respected and has lead a sad life. Although he is a bit older, he is wealthy and kind.
Mr. Edward Ferris - He is the brother-in-law of the Dashwoods half brother. Edward is kind, funny, and rich, although he doesn't care too much about the third. He seems almost bored by his wealth and dreams of being something different than what his family wishes him to be.
Mr. Dashwood dies and leaves his estate to his son from a previous marriage. His son promises him to take care of his stepmother and step sisters, but is weak minded and ruled by his greedy and snobbish wife. He barely gives them anything and then compliments himself as being a good brother. The Dashwood women move to a small cottage on a cousins estate. Mary Ann falls in love with a man from the surrounding neighborhood while another man loves her secretly from a far (sigh). Elinor falls for someone of a higher rank who wants to love her but can't because of a secret past. He's isn't the only one of the love interests with a secret past though. They each have their histories, one sad and another horrible and both some how intertwined.
Best - I like Kate Beckinsale's Emma the best. A&E produced this movie in 1996. Emma's character is very true to the novel. My big problem with this movie though is Mr. Knightly. He more overbearing than in the book, and too old looking.
Runner-up - The Hollywood version with Gwyneth Paltrow was ok. Here's my issue, Gwyneth doesn't fit the description of Emma. That just bugs y'all! I also didn't like Harriet as much as the other one. This Mr. Knightly however was a lot better.
Honorable Mention - Clueless! You can't talk about Emma with out talking about Clueless. My BFFs and I saw this in the theater back in the day and loved it. It's the best newer updated movie that is based on an older classic book.
"Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief."
Characters - This is a different than the first two novels. The main characters are a family of a widower and his daughter, Emma. Emma's friend Harriet is also in the majority of the book.
Mr. Woodhouse - He is a funny little rich old man. Mr. Woodhouse is a hypochondriac, he hates change, and doesn't think very highly of marriage.
Miss. Emma Woodhouse - Emma is a beautiful and rich girl. Unlike many of Austen other women, she is set in her fortune. Having made a good match for her governess, she is determined to find someone for her friend Harriet. She means well, but doesn't always understand how others really feel in her attempts to make everyone fall in love with each other.
Miss. Harriet - She is a poor girl that Emma has decided to befriend and transform into a perfect lady. This includes finding her a husband that can raise her to the rank Emma feels she deserves. Harriet can be easily lead around and doesn't really know how to figure out what she wants with out guidance from others. She isn't as smart or strong as Emma.
Possible Love Interests-
Mr. Elton - A rich man, but very arrogant and more sure of himself than he needs to be.
Mr. Martin - A poor farmer. Not very well spoken, but humble and kind. He seems a little weak to me.
Mr. Knightly - This is Emma's brother-in-laws brother. He is much older than Emma, but rich and handsome. He is kind, but can be severe and likes to point out Emma's faults.
Mr. Churchill - This is the son of the man Emma's governess marries. They would love to see him with Emma. He is fashionable, handsome, and fairly well off. He may have a secret or two though.
Emma is a rich young woman who decide to trying marring off the people around her while she herself claims she will remain single and die an old maid. She tries to help others but somehow misses the mark at first. She wants to turn Harriet into something she just isn't and can sometimes pair people together for the wrong reasons. She can also be a little naïve, which gets her into some funny, but awkward situations. Eventually Emma and Harriet both get a man and they live happily ever after.
The only movie I have seen of Persuasion is the 1995 version with Amanda Root (whoever that is). I thought Anne was way too old looking and hope that some one will remake this for the big screen.
"If I was wrong in yielding to persuasion once, remember that it was to persuasion exerted on the side of safety, not of risk. When I yielded, I thought it was to duty; but no duty could be called in aid here. In marrying a man indifferent to me, all risk would have been incurred, and all duty violated."
- Jane Austen, Persuasion
Characters - Like Emma, the family in this book has lost the mother. There are three daughters, but different than a lot of Austen novels, they are a little older. They also have a family friend who helps advise them.
Sir Walter Elliot - The head of the house hold. He is very proud of his title and wealth, but he spends more money than he has trying to look as rich as possible. Sir Walter is very hung up on outward appearances and a little bit vain and self serving.
Lady Russell - An older woman who helps the family after the loss of their mother. She likes Anne the most and wants to see her married well. She means well, but isn't always the best judge in character.
Miss. Elizabeth Elliot - The oldest of three daughters. She is described as being very attractive, but her personality is very similar to her father's. She wants to marry rich, but hasn't succeeded yet. The favorite child.
Miss. Anne Elliot - She is sweet, kind, and pushed aside by her family. Anne had been in love at a younger age, but was persuaded to not marry him by Lady Russell because of his lack of fortune. She has had another opportunity to marry, but chose not to.
Mrs. Mary Musgrove- The youngest sister. She married into a fairly well off family in the neighborhood and thinks she is very important because of it. She's actually an annoying brat. Anne helps her and her family a lot when she visits.
Possible Love Interests-
Captain Wentworth - He was in love with Anne back in the day, but was rejected by Lady Russell because of his lack of $$$. When he comes back into the picture things have changed.
Captain Benwick - A quiet guy who lost a girl he loved and needs a new one to cheer him up.
Mr. Elliot - The heir of the Elliot home. He ticked off Sir Walter and ignored the family in the past, then reappears again. He takes one look at one of the sisters and is then very ready to be accepted back into the family circle.
Plot- This book is mainly about Anne. She is sweet, kind, but considered to be practically an old maid. When she was really young she fell in love but was persuaded to call off the engagement (sigh). This story line just makes you root for Anne. She never really got over it though. She runs into him again years later while staying with her sister Mary. He has never married either and definitely shopping around. The sisters-in-law of Mary are also in the neighborhood and on their own little manhunt. Poor Anne is too nice and thinks that she had her chance. As she cares for those around her she has a "second bloom" (gets all purty again) and more than one guy notices.
I have seen two movies of Mansfield Park, but one was more of a screenplay so it just doesn't count. In 1999 they made a horrific version for the big screen. It was not true to the book and the characters were all so wrong. They changed the story line so much and in such a bad, bad way that I think if Jane Austen were to see it, she would be waaaay ticked off! I sure am! Some one please remake this book!!! Please?!
"I pay very little regard...to what any young person says on the subject of marriage. If they profess a disinclination for it, I only set it down that they have not yet seen the right person." Jane Austen, Mansfield Park
Main Characters - A big family with boys and girls.
Sir Thomas Bertram - He's a very strict father who demands that his family act perfectly. His kids are scared of him, but he really is a good father who wants this children to love and respect him. The Bertrams are also well off. $$$
Lady Bertram - She's the mom. Lady Bertram is lazy! I guess that's OK if you're rich?! She doesn't do much but sit around and talk about her dumb dogs.
Mrs. Norris - She's the aunt, Mrs. Bertrams sister. She's this fat old lady who is all up in everyone's business. She's very rude and a little bit greedy. She's also a moocher.
Mr. Tom Bertram - Tom's the oldest son. He is handsome, but doesn't really do much to live up to his fathers expectations.
Miss.Maria Bertram - The oldest girl. She's pretty but a little full of herself. She wants every man to fall in love with her.
Miss. Julia Bertram - The youngest daughter. She's annoying and follows Maria around. They are in competition for attention most of time.
Miss. Fanny Price - The cousin of the Bertrams. She is taken in by them to raise because of her family's situation. They are very poor and have a ton of kids. She is the sweetest and most principled of all of Jane Austen's characters.
Love Interests -
Mr. Edmund Bertram - The next oldest son. He's also good looking. He's very kind and wants to be ordained a minister for his profession. This doesn't sit well with the girl he likes, but the one that likes him is perfectly fine with that.
Mr. Henry Crawford - A son of the Bertram's neighbor. He is fairly well off and the guy everyone wants. He enjoys the attention and likes flirting with everyone. He eventually does fall in love with someone (making everyone else jealous) but will she love him back is the big question. His sister Mary is an interesting person as well.
Mr. Rushworth - A tall kind of dumb guy who falls in love with one of the sisters, poor guy. He has money though. Gold diggin' time girls!
Mr. Yates- He is a friend of Tom's who shows up to help them perform a family play. The play isn't quite family oriented enough for Sir. Thomas. Busted.
Plot - Fanny is a young girl who gets sent to live with her Aunt, Uncle, and cousins. She is raised by them, but isn't really treated like she is one of the children. She develops into a really kind but soft spoken person with really high principles and standards. As she gets older she gets prettier and the guys start to notice. She however, has already fallen in love with someone but is too shy and scared of rejection to say anything. When the cousins start dating and marrying off she gets pushed into it all and is soon pressured to marry someone that she doesn't even like. This book has one of the best main characters and one of the worst scandals of all of Austen's works.
I have only seen the 1986 BBC movie. It was just OK. The scenes where she is reading and imagining her horror novels is really kind of strange. I have heard that Masterpiece Theater has a few new Austen movies and I am looking forward to seeing them!
"But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her. Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way. "
Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
Main Charaters - The difference in this book is that the heroine leaves her family and is away from them the majority of the book, so my main characters are not a family.
Miss. Catherine Morland - A country girl with a large (but not too poor) family. She gets invited to go to Bath with the Allens, an older couple with out children.
Mr. Allen - A nice guy with money that needs to go to Bath for his health. He's a bit boring though.
Mrs. Allen - She is very concerned with her clothing. It's really almost all she talks about. At first she feels bad for not having any friends in bath, but eventually she does met an old friend with teenagers for Catherine to hang with.
Miss. Isabella Thorpe - The oldest of the Thorpes. She is said to be very pretty, but is a major flirt. She is a good friend to Catherine.......at first.
Mr. James Moreland - Catherine's oldest brother comes to Bath with his friend John Thorpe, Isabella's brother. They are college friends.
Possible love interests -
Mr. John Thorpe - The friend of Cahterines brother. He talks a lot about nothing really important. He also likes bragging about anything related to himself.
Mr. Henry Tilney - He's the first guy that dances with Catherine in Bath. He's said to be "almost handsome" (good enough for me) and has a funny and quick sense of humor. His sister and he become friends with Catherine.
Plot - Catherine Moreland is invited to Bath by her neighbors. She is 17 and has never left home, so she's pretty excited. She goes to balls, the theater, and meets lots of new people. Someone falls in love with her (or so he says) and she likes someone else. She is eventually invited to go to visit some of her new friends at their home, an old Abbey. Catherines love of horror novels makes her imagination run a little wild while she's there. She thinks that maybe the father of her friends isn't all he appears. Maybe she's right.
Another Austen movie I haven't seen! Must find it!!!
Lady Susan, The Watson's, and Sanditon
This is a book with three different and mainly unheard of stories from Austen.
Lady Susan - This is a short novel made up of different letters. The format is really interesting and Lady Susan is a very unique character. She is the most horrible mother Jane Austen created.
The Watson's - The Watson's is an unfinished novel. It was going a long well. I wonder why it was never finished?
Sanditon- This is the novel Jane Austen was working on when she died. It is very much an indication of how she was feeling at the time as the majority of the characters are sick or talking about when they were sick. This novel was never finished.
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