Just been watching…(65)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

***No spoilers***

Yes, you read that title right! Have you ever seen any adaptations of Jane Austen’s novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’, or read the book? If the answer is ‘Yes’, then you will know the classic story of the Bennet family, and the people they encounter in the Regency England of 1813. If you are an Austen ‘purist’, then it might be best to read no further…

When I saw this film was being released, I immediately discounted it as ‘probably nonsense’, and thought no more of it. I also read that it had failed at the box office, and lost millions in the process. But despite all that, there were also many positive reviews, some from people I respected. So when it finally arrived on TV, courtesy of Film 4, I thought, ‘why not?’

I confess to being pleasantly surprised, and rewarded with some excellent performances too. In this ‘alternative England’, the country is beset by a plague of zombies. With London full of flesh-eating monsters, the authorities have surrounded the capital with a huge wall, and a deep water moat to contain the hordes. Occasionally, some escape, infecting people in the countryside. When the crisis reaches its peak, the Army has to blow up the last remaining bridge over the moat, trapping the remaining zombies in London forever.

All the characters from the book are in evidence, with a couple of new additions, to deal with the zombie angle. But the famous Bennet sisters and the young ladies of their acquaintance are no longer the giggling girls who could sometimes be so annoying. They are now trained zombie fighters, sent by their parents to develop their skills in China or Japan. They are proficient with pistol, musket, and sword, also concealing razor sharp daggers in their stocking tops, or in the bodices that barely restrain their heaving Regency bosoms. They can also demonstrate kick-boxing, kung-fu, and any martial art you care to name.

Dastardly Whickham and soppy Reverend Collins, brave yet aloof Darcy, and the loyal Mr Bingham. They are all there, and playing the same part in the story. Except that Darcy is now the chief zombie killer in England, and in command of the Army unit tasked with destroying the menace. Mrs Bennet is trying to marry off her daughters, as always, and Mr Bennet remains long-suffering, whilst loving his girls. Darcy swims in the lake, and they all attend grand balls and functions, hoping to find the ideal husband, just as you might expect. But then the events are interjected with zombie attacks, allowing the characters to demonstrate their deadly skills.

It is actually great fun to hear the cast saying Austen’s formal lines, as they somersault over a zombie, cutting off its head. It really works as a concept, mainly because everyone plays it completely straight, and the Austen story continues as normal, despite the often madcap events surrounding an occasional clash with zombies. Costume and sets are perfect, and no expense was spared to recreate the conventional story, alongside a vision of London occupied by the undead. (This is probably why the film lost so much money)

Above all, it is the cast that makes this film so watchable. Gruff-voiced and dark-eyed, Sam Riley makes a perfect Darcy. Lily James is feisty and good to look at as Elizabeth Bennet, and her parents are handled well by the talents of Charles Dance, and Sally Phillips. Everyone looks right, and totally in period, never once succumbing to spoofing the potential comedy of the situation. In fact, despite the premise, it is far from being a comedy, and presented seriously as a real alternative to the well-known adaptations. Stylish, sassy, and occasionally a little sexy too. And it is not remotely scary.
I liked it a lot.

41 thoughts on “Just been watching…(65)

  1. The original novel is an absolute favourite of mine, which is maybe why I didn’t love the book this film is based on. It seemed a bit unnecessary to me. However, the film is not forced to follow the original narrative as closely so it is actually a lot more enjoyable. From my perspective anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have to admit I almost fell out of my chair when I first saw the title of your post Pete!😁 This is definitely not a movie I ever thought you’d watch and enjoy, but I’m so glad you did!. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was the first of the sub-genre of mashups between classic literature and monsters. I loved the book and I thought this movie was a fun, frothy adaptation. You’ll have to try Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter sometime!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have seen ‘Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter’, Kim, though never reviewed it. Like this film, I think it worked because the cast played it straight, and it didn’t just feel like a spoof, or farce.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks, Pete. I also really enjoyed it (I managed to catch it the night before I left the UK) and I agree. I did like the touches of snobbery as well (the richer girls trained in Japan rather than China was not as posh, although it seemed very effective). I’m not sure all the similar adaptations would work, but this one definitely did. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I watched it and was not amused. I think I need PV’s decanter to get to a place where I found it fun. This coming from a woman who had a fun romp with “The World’s End”. What a walking contridiction.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I doubt I would ever watch it again, Cindy. But it was so much better than I ever expected, so my complimentary review is based as much on surprise, as anything else. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This was exactly my experience of this one, Pete! I am an Austen fan and I hate anything to do with zombies – allegedly. Yet I liked it a lot too! I’d never have seen it except that the other half is a zombie fan and he obviously reeled me in with the Austen connection. But I was glad that he did: it’s great fun and – most importantly for me – not scary!

    Liked by 2 people

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