My favorite Jane Austen film adaptations.

My favorite Jane Austen film adaptations.

Reposting from this time last year, because this remains an excellent way to spend your Christmas vacation. 

It’s true: these Jane Austen movies have nothing to do with Christmas… except that Christmas vacation is a great time to watch one (or all) of them.

(Sarah’s reading a book right now in which one of the characters has a standing date with Mr. Darcy—er, Colin Firth—on New Year’s Eve, when she watches the 1995 BBC Pride & Prejudice from start to finish. I suspect she’s in good company with her holiday ritual.)

Some Jane Austen adaptations are terrific; some will make you feel like you squandered two hours. Here’s my guide to the best versions.

Emma

My favorite Jane Austen film adaptations | Modern Mrs Darcy

At a Christmas party two years ago, I spent two hours trying to figure out which of my friends I should set up the guests in attendance, and came home in the mood to watch this version of Emma with Romola Garai. It took me weeks to catch the irony.

This is the best version of Emma; it’s not even close.

Kate Beckinsale makes a fine Emma in this version. I liked Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma at the time, but find her much too irritating as Emma to re-watch now. Romola’s version is perfect, and Jonny Lee Miller makes a great Knightley. (I was surprised, too.)

Sense & Sensibility

My favorite Jane Austen film adaptations | Modern Mrs Darcy

Andrew Davies—who brilliantly adapted the 1995 version of Pride & Prejudice for tv—took a similar (read:sexy) approach with this 2008 version of Sense & Sensibility. (See: Dan Stevens chopping wood in the rain.) Acress Hattie Morahan, who played Elinor, refused to watch Emma Thompson’s 1995 performance prior to filming for fear it would influence her performance (and absolutely paralyze her).

This adaptation is fun to watch and quite true to Austen’s story, although it does have a few added scenes, like a duel between Brandon and Willoughby.

My favorite Jane Austen film adaptations | Modern Mrs Darcy

2008 is quite good, but Ang Lee’s 1995 version with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet is a classic, even if it’s not the most faithful to the book.

My favorite Jane Austen film adaptations | Modern Mrs Darcy

Persuasion

Both modern adaptations are worth watching, but neither is amazing. (Screenwriters, take note.)

Of the two, the subdued 1995 version with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds most resonates.

The 2007 version with Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones has more energy, but that’s not necessarily a good thing: it has a truly terrible ending, in which Anne Elliot’s marathon jog through the streets of Bath culminates in what might just be the worst kiss in the history of movie kisses.

My favorite Jane Austen film adaptations | Modern Mrs Darcy

Mansfield Park

The world is still waiting for a Mansfield Park adaptation that does justice to the book. Neither modern adaptation (1999 or 2007) is worth your time. Read the book while you’re waiting on Hollywood. (Or preferably, the BBC.)

Northanger Abbey

My favorite Jane Austen film adaptations | Modern Mrs Darcy

Andrew Davies strikes again. This 2007 version starring Felicity Jones and JJ Feild (and a young Carey Mulligan—I didn’t realize it was her until I saw the credits!) bring’s Austen’s lampoon of Gothic novels to life in a perfect 86 minutes. Don’t worry about the terrible Amazon reviews—those people don’t know what they’re talking about.

Pride and Prejudice

My favorite Jane Austen film adaptations | Modern Mrs Darcy

The 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice is the best Austen adaptation, hands down. It’s a faithful adaptation, with gorgeous scenery and brilliant acting. Jennifer Ehle is a marvelous Lizzy and to legions of fans Firth is and always will be Mr. Darcy. (In a wet shirt. In the lake.)

My favorite Jane Austen film adaptations | Modern Mrs Darcy

But the 2005 edition with Keira Knightley also has its charms. It’s lush and rich with imagery. (Mr Collins proposing in front of a ham? Perfect.) And it ushered a new generation into Jane Austen fandom.

What’s missing here? What’s your favorite Austen adaptation? (And if you have any holiday viewing rituals, tell us about them in comments!)

P.S. 5 favorite Jane Austen-inspired romantic comedies

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113 comments

    • Bridget says:

      Agreed! I had to laugh reading the article because it is pretty much mirrored my thoughts on the Austen adaptations! While I like both 95 and 05 P&P 95 has the edge just the 2005(although a good movie) feels so rushed to me! However that being said there are a few items that I can say are better in the 05 version. Charlotte seemed more like the character from the book and I liked that they humanized Mrs. Bennet a little. Emma 09 is my fave! I just loved JLM as Knightley. I love Darcy but I think if I had to pick one a fave Austen man it would be Knightley. Mansfield Park is not my fave book and I still havent found an adaptation that made me like it more. Heres hoping in the future! With Persuasion like you I am still waiting for the definitive. I like Ciaran Hinds version but felt the actors were a little older. The actors ages were right in the 05 version but then they rushed it so much and as many have mentioned gave it a weird ending where shes running around town with her friend who suddenly has no problem walking around outside despite the fact that she is an invalid in the book. I mean come on I know its her shortest story but as one my top 3 Austen( with P&p and Emma) it deserved the full story . In that way the 95 version definitely shines. of course I know they arent direct works of Austen but I have to add in my love for Clueless and of course the Lizzie Bennet Diaries! I just LOVE that Austen’s works are still being honored 200 years later! keep them coming!

      • Laura says:

        Agree on Charlotte and Mrs Bennett in the 05 version. Really liked that and the beautiful cinematography. But I didn’t enjoy the rushing and added lines!

        • Judith Brown says:

          Sorry was looking to replay the audiobook of P&P and found this months late. I thing regarding the newer P&p, for those accustomed to the longer miniseries, the ’05 version would obviously seem rushed when taking it to a 2-hourish time frame. But in addition to Mrs. Bennett being still a little crazed but wonderful and Charlotte being precious – I’d have totally let Donald Sutherland be my dad. I thought he was perfect! And parts of the music still play in my car pretty regularly. My husband said he’ll pipe the music outside for me so I can feel like I’m in a movie( ;

    • Zach says:

      Lost in Jane Austen is a good one! Don’t know if it’s considered an adaptation, but I love the thought of actually being in the book!

      • Isabel says:

        Agree! 🙂 I think some of the “spin-off” movies are great too. They still give you the Austen fix when needed 🙂 I also enjoy Austenland.

  1. Jeannie says:

    Totally agree about the ending of the Sally Hawkins version of Persuasion: HORRIBLE. And zero chemistry.

    I like the Romola Garai version of Emma: she’s a lovely actress, and that one has the best and ditziest Harriet, for sure. But it’s too modern at times and jars me — Emma opening her own front door, running to Mr. K’s house to say “WE CAN NEVER MARRY!!”, pruning her own hedge!!?? My favourite version has Kate Beckinsale as Emma and Mark Strong as Mr. Knightley. I find it the most faithful to the book, and the casting is great: Beckinsale’s Emma is the perfect combination of snobbish entitlement and girlish pout, and Strong is just the right age and bearing for Knightley. Try it, you’ll like it!

  2. Nancy Wang says:

    I completely agree about the 2007 “Persuasion”: I HATED it! The ending was terrible. I also really loved the new “Emma”, and I’m really fond of the Ciaran Hinds “Persuasion”. I think it improves on re-watching.

    • Stephanie says:

      I don’t love the ending of that version of Persuasion, either (though I really like Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth), but it did help me to accept it more to learn that it was based on a chapter that Austen later revised. That is to say, it’s not totally made up, in some sense! =)

      I did read the excised chapter and, as I recall, Anne rushes through the streets but doesn’t run. A lady would never run, right?!

      • Stephanie says:

        Whoops, correction! I glanced through that earlier version of Austen’s later revised chapter, and that “hurrying through the streets” ending is not there–the movie-makers are entirely to blame for that.

        No, instead the revised chapter contains the alternate version, used in the movie, of how Wentworth declares himself–the awkward scene where Admiral Croft makes Wentworth ask Anne if she and Mr. Elliot will require the use of Kellynch Hall immediately after their marriage, their engagement being soon anticipated. Naturally I prefer the final, “book” version, in which Wentworth dashes a (very romantic!) letter off to her as she chats with Harville nearby–but it was interesting to get a glimpse of Austen’s earlier version.

  3. Jess Townes says:

    I just watched the Thompson/Winslet version of Sense & Sensibility last night. It is my favorite adaptation as well, and last night I noticed for the first time how many actors from the film are also in Harry Potter films (I counted three….unless I missed one!) as far as holiday viewing rituals,it has nothing to do with Jane Austen but I watch Love Actually every year (and several actors shared with Sense & Sensibility in that film too….those British actors sure make the rounds!)

  4. Em says:

    I grew up watching the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice, but the 2005 adaptation has replaced it in my heart as THE Austen movie. (I know, blasphemy!) The performances, the cinematography, the style that is by turns dreamy and earthy…it’s perfection to me.

    • Anne says:

      I’m with ya! 😉 (I just don’t like Ehle.) The Keira one is so beautiful and while it leaves a lot out, I think it captures the essence of the book in a lovely way.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I’m with you too on the 2005 Pride and Prejudice! The scenery and music and casting are just perfect!! Everything about it is beautiful to watch! I enjoy the 1995 one but to me it just doesn’t capture the heart of the book as well even if it does quote the book more directly. Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen will always be Lizzy and Darcy to me 😉

  5. Erica M. says:

    Ah, the infamous Bath marathon. At least it’s good for a laugh, right?

    The Mansfield Park miniseries from the 80s is the most faithful, but it drags at times. It seems intent on including every little thing from the book and loses some luster as a result. Sylvestra le Touzel is an adorable Fanny though. (Which makes watching Northanger Abbey hilarious!) I still insist the reason no one can adapt Mansfield Park right is because Fanny lives so much in her own head, and in spite of advances in psychology people still think that quiet, introverted types are “weird”. (I actually wrote a very long blog post about this, and I’m on the verge of writing another one, so I’ll leave off here!)

    I will watch any movie with Emma Thompson. She is stellar. 😀

      • bb says:

        Hey bro, good to see another dude in this blog. How many of Jane Austen’s movie adaptations have you seen. I totally love them. 3 versions of Mansfield park. 83 version is the best. The others are just totally don’t do it for me. Casting is excellent. Edmund is more believable as a future serious minded cleric. Blake Ritson is just too much of a pretty boy in the other version.

        Seen 3 versions of Persuasion; liked the 80’s version best. Casting was stellar. Wentworth just right; the other versions he was too serious. Loved the Admiral in the 80’s version. Loved his sometimes over the top comments where he is reigned in by his wife.

        I think overall I have seen the casting is the best in these earlier BBC 79 to 80’s versions. Though they are a bit slower.

        • Tim says:

          Persuasion is my favorite of the novels and perhaps that’s why I haven’t yet been satisfied by any of the adaptations.

          Emma has been done well. I like the Paltrow version but think Clueless is actually truer to the tone of the novel.

    • bb says:

      Wow finally a positive comment on Mansfield Park I definitely liked the 1983 version. I like Fanny as “creep mouse” introvert who listens to the “better guide within herself.”

      The modern Mansfields are just blecch, not very satisfying. Plus the one that has Blake Riston as the Edmund the preacher. He is my least favourite Mr Elton in all the Emma adaptations;a social climbing, pompous, preening, ponce of a parson. This spoiled it for me. I can’t see him as a serious, sincere candidate for the ministry like the boy in the 1980’s Mansfield Park version. He’s not deserving of Fanny. 🙂

      Mansfield Park is not everyone’s favorite Austen, because I suspect, (tell me if I’m being too judgmental here), most people can’t imagine how anyone can be happy as a creep mouse moralist, doing the right thing, being self-effacing to avoid hurting other people’s feelings.

  6. liz n. says:

    Well, I should like to say that I most appreciate the ’95 version of P&P for its’ attention to period detail and how well it stays with the book, but let’s be honest: Colin Firth.

  7. Faith R says:

    I was JUST thinking about this yesterday!! Love this list – and especially your notes about Mansfield Park. I went through a stint of watching every film adaptation of Persuasion that my library had. I only wish we could mash the 1995 one and the 2007 ones together. I liked Anne from the 1995 version much better but didn’t really care for the Colonel in that one. And I totally agree with you – the ending in the 2007 version is ridiculous.

  8. Janet says:

    I agree with you list completely. I’m often torn between the 2 Sense and Sensibilities, but I realize it’s because I prefer Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon, otherwise it’s the other one I prefer.
    For a good laugh I watch Lost in Austen, even my husband likes it.

    • Angela says:

      I second that with “Lost in Austen.” It’s hilarious! I think it’s good for non-fans of period pieces or Austen adaptations. They get the Austen with the modern 😉

  9. Anne says:

    All right, Anne! Thanks for the scoop. I tried to watch a version Persuasion once (not sure which) and was terribly bored. Out of all of these, the Romola Garai version of Emma is what I’ve watched most recently (for the first time). I loved it.

  10. Melodee says:

    Agree on so many of these! Romola Garai’s Emma is my favorite Austen adaptation. (I always liked the Kate Beckinsale version too, but Mr. Knightley is TOO angry in that version–they take conversations from the book that include friendly interaction and just cut straight to the rebuke, almost every time. And let’s face it, Jeremy Northam is a Mr. Knightley who flatters Emma, which is just an oxymoron.)

    And while I will always love Emma Thompson’s S&S, I really like how the Andrew Davies version had actresses that are the right age for the parts. (Emma Thomspon was 36 playing a nineteen year old!) By the way, the duel isn’t “added” — it’s referenced in the book, but obliquely:

    Have you,” she continued, after a short silence, “ever seen Mr. Willoughby since you left him at Barton?”
    “Yes,” he replied gravely, “once I have. One meeting was unavoidable.”
    Elinor, startled by his manner, looked at him anxiously, saying —
    “What? have you met him to — ”
    “I could meet him in no other way. Eliza had confessed to me, though most reluctantly, the name of her lover; and when he returned to town, which was within a fortnight after myself, we met by appointment, he to defend, I to punish his conduct. We returned unwounded, and the meeting, therefore, never got abroad.”
    Elinor sighed over the fancied necessity of this; but to a man and a soldier, she presumed not to censure it.

    • Jeannie says:

      I thought that too about the duel: I guess the distinction is that in the movie we’re made to believe that Brandon dueled with Willoughby over his dumping of Marianne, whereas in the book the duel concerns Willoughby’s previous seduction of Eliza.

  11. Beth says:

    I love the Romola Garai version of Emma! I also originally loved the Gwyneth Paltrow version and don’t enjoy her as Emma now. I still love Jeremy Northam’s proposal in that one though. “Marry me, my wonderful, darling friend.” Swoon!

    Is there anyone we can write a campaign to for a good version of Persuasion? There are pieces of the two that I enjoy but…wow. They have not done it justice.

    I prefer the 2007 S and S in most ways. The age issues particularly bother me in the 90s version because it makes Elinor’s situation a lot more dire if she’s older. And 19 is not believable in that one. I will also confess that I prefer Edward in either movie to Edward in the book. (I know–blasphemy!) He’s just too timid for my taste. But played by Dan in particular, he seems to have more layers.

    • Anne says:

      I’ll sign on to that Persuasion campaign!

      And yes to the age issues in Emma Thompson’s S&S. I’m laughing at your blasphemy—but I concur, both movie Edwards are pretty darn good. 🙂

  12. Rachel H. says:

    I agree with everything you wrote–especially the awful 2007 adaptation of Persuasion. Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds are the best. I did not like Ciaran Hinds as Rochester however. I know we are talking about Jane Austen but since I mentioned Rochester my favorite one is Toby Stephens in the 2006 version.

    I also wanted to give a nod to to the 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier. They messed up the ending terribly but Olivier does a great snobby Darcy and Mr. Collins and Mrs. Bennett are hilarious in this version. Worth checking out.
    Love your blog–happy holidays and enjoy your Austen movie watching!

      • Missy says:

        The movie deviated a lot from the book,, but I agree that Laurence Olivier was a wonderful Mr. Darcy!! He makes it worth watching!

      • Kimster says:

        Omg!!!! I know we’re talking about Jane Austen adaptations, but the Toby Stephens version of Jane Eyre may be my favorite period piece movie … that and the Richard Armitage version of North and South. As far as the Jane Austen movies … is it just me, or does anyone else watch the different versions back to back to compare … Apparently I need to pull out my handy dandy Venn diagram to compare/contrast 🙂

    • bb says:

      Awkward kiss. No I say ridiculous kiss. Their lips move ever so slowly toward each other. Actually her lips move toward his. I know that drawing it out increases the anticipation and stretches the ‘feeling moment’ but it’s too exaggerated. “Just kiss her already, dude” what are you waiting for

  13. Some Jane Austen-obsessed people might argue with you, but I love her, and I agree with everything you’ve said!

    It’s true that your content has been phenomenal this week. Keep it up! You’re my favorite!

  14. Rachel says:

    I love the 1995 P&P so ferociously that I’ve never been able to bring myself to watch the Keira Knightley version (partially out of loyalty to the Colin Firth version, and partially because I really, really dislike Keira Knightley and don’t want to think of her as Elizabeth). I went so far as to skip one of my literature & film classes in college the day they were watching it. A little silly, I’m sure, considering how many people I know who love it, but I just can’t do it.

    • Kirsten says:

      My husband (an avowed Anglophile) doesn’t find Keira Knightley a convincible Elizabeth – mainly because she’s too skinny. He says she should be curvier.

  15. Hannah Scott says:

    I was thrilled to see that my favorite Emma adaptation was the first on your list! It’s definitely underrated with the people I’ve talked to, so I’m enjoying a pleasant little sense of validation right now. Ha!

  16. Kristen says:

    oh my gosh that persuasion kiss is THE worst. I definitely like that one better than the older one, and Wentworth is sooo dreamy… but I just feel like they could do so much better!
    I like the S&S with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman (!!), I mean they are all brilliant.. but for some reason I really like the other one more (with Dan Stevens).
    and oh my gosh yes that Emma is the best, no question at all!
    I haven’t read Mansfield Park yet, I’ve seen the movies but don’t like any. I am hoping I’ll like the book more…
    and oh I love ALL the P&P’s. I love the BBC one for being true to the book, and I love the 2005 for it’s own reasons as well.

  17. Traci says:

    Has anyone else seen the Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier version of P&P? Totally silly and not at all true to the book, but still fun. I always liked Greer Garson as Lizzie Bennett.

    This time of year always makes me want to re-watch “Cranford” and “Lark Rise to Candleford” as well. It’s the perfect time to get caught up in a period drama.

  18. Lee Ann Roberts says:

    Yes regarding that awful most recent version of Persuasion. Poor Anne doing that guppy impression while I yelled at the TV, “Just kiss her already!”

    I love both the versions of P & P you mention. Carey Mulligan is also in the newer version – one of her first film roles, I think – as Kitty.

    However, Romola Garai as Emma…oy! All that eye-rolling made me cringe. I couldn’t watch the whole thing. I much prefer the version with Gwyneth Paltrow. All the performances in it are so good, particularly Sophie Thompson as Miss Bates – and I must say Jeremy Northam makes a particularly fine-looking Mr. Knightley.

  19. Chelsea H. says:

    I’m currently watching the 1995 Pride and Prejudice for the first time, and there are some things I like about it. Colin Firth DEFINITELY plays a better Darcy. However, I do like the beautiful and more down-to-earth feel of the Keira Knightley adaptation (even though I can’t unsee her as a pirate, haha). I think the girls in the 2005 version are more interesting. And I agree 100% with Northanger Abbey (2007). This is one of the most enjoyable Austen movies for me and I have probably watched it at least five times in the last month or so. I just think it’s charming and extremely well done! Mansfield Park…I watched the 2007 edition and I hated it, what a waste of time. It was very disappointing for me, because that was one of my favorite of the books. Emma…I like Gwyneth Paltrow’s version, because I find her very playful, but then again, I haven’t seen the Romola Garai version either. I can see from this post that I have a lot of film-watching to be done! Need to check out some of these!

  20. Liz K. says:

    What?! No one mentioned the 1980s miniseries of Pride and Prejudice starring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul? I grew up on that version and love it! I still think David Rintoul, as the stiff, snobby, untouchable Mr. Darcy, is wonderful! And Elizabeth’s extreme discomfort when she’s in Netherfield is perfect. I love Jennifer Ehle, but I found her Lizzie a little too disdainful compared to Garvie’s sweet and sassy character. In the book, Elizabeth can’t understand why Darcy keeps looking at her, and dismisses it as him thinking there’s just something wrong with her. Ehle’s Elizabeth seems way too self-assured and irritated with him to ever have that thought. Garvie is a little more perplexed, and a lot more likely to laugh it all off.

    Honestly, I love all three adaptations. I wish the 2005 version could have been a couple hours longer so they could have really developed the characters and the plot. Oh great, now I need to spend the weekend re-watching these! (P.S. The 1980s P&P was on Netflix last I checked!)

    • Anne says:

      I didn’t see the 1980 version until a few years ago, after I watched ’95 and 2005. I wonder if I would have enjoyed it ore if I didn’t have the other versions rattling around in my head, but I had a hard time getting into it.

      • Liz K. says:

        I was as good as my word and watched part of the 1980s series while folding laundry this weekend. I can see why the newer, higher-budget versions would be favorites because the old one is almost like a play more than a movie, but the individual performances are so fun to watch. We have so many little family jokes that came out of that production. Mrs. Bennett saying, “Such a disappointment” and “you have no compassion for my nerves” are classics. Then of course, Lady Katherine saying, “I must have my part of the conversation.”

        In fact, that line was the last joke my sister ever told my mom. As my mom was slipping from this world, she would periodically want to know what was happening in the room, and my sister leaned down to her and said, “I must have my part of the conversation.” At that point she couldn’t laugh, but she smiled. See? Jane Austen and that particular BBC production are totally intertwined in our family narrative.

  21. Susanna says:

    I don’t care for the Kate Beckinsale version of Emma because I feel like Emma is unlikeable and Mark Strong as Mr. Knightley is too severe. In the Gwenyth Paltrow version, I thought the performances of Gwenyth and Jeremy Northam were a bit smug. I love Jonny Lee Miller as Mr. Knightley in the 2009 version although it did bother me how much Romola Garai bugged her eyes out. That version takes the time to show long conversations and that is something that I feel makes it superior to the other versions. I didn’t really care for either of the modern versions of Mansfield Park. I didn’t care for the Kiera Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice. It rushed the story along too quickly, Mr. Darcy wasn’t handsome, and after seeing the buxom Elizabeth in the A&E version, I couldn’t get over Kiera Knightley’s flat chest. I love the 1995 version of Persuasion. The Sally Hawkins version has two merits–one, I feel like the actress did a remarkable job in portraying Anne’s sadness in the scenes where she is alone in her bedroom, and two, Rupert Penry-Jones is so good looking. (However Ciaran Hines is more realistic as a weathered naval man.) But, oh my gosh, all the fast moving in the later version–in the opening scenes, how the Musgrove sisters are always running, and then the jog through the neighborhood at the end. And Mary! I know the character is supposed to be annoying, but the performance by Amanda Hale takes the cake! Finally, I will always love Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility, overlooking the fact that Emma is far too old to play Elinor.

    • bb says:

      Yeah, the bugging out of Emma’s eyes (enlarging of her pupils) in Romola Garei version bugged me. It will seem as if I don’t have much of a life, but we counted (wife and I) over 90 times during this version that she did this.

      romala Garei is without doubt my favourite, but I liked the Kate Beckinsale and Jeremy Northam proposal scene the best. She actually says, “Yes I do return your affection. I do love you or something.” She uses words. The other 3 versions they all have either breathless smiles or I don’t know whnt……..no! I want to hear words

  22. Nancy says:

    I have watched all of the adaptations that you have mentioned except The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and the 1980’s P & P. I can watch all of them over and over! My favorite is the !995 P& P and the J.J. Field Northanger Abbey. Persuasion is probably my favorite story, so I can forgive the kiss because I love the last scene- A little in love with the Captain Wentworth! Although, the best part is hearing the letter in the Ciarin Hinds version. I loved PBS Death at Pemberley mostly because I loved seeing my old friends again and I have always wondered about Georgiana! I also just watched Austenland-which is very silly but made me want to go there! Ha, we love our Jane!

  23. Sandi says:

    Just found this via Pinterest. I ADORE Romola Garai’s Emma. And I quite concur, Jonny Lee Miller as Knightley is perfection. His age, his bearing – all perfect. He does Awkward Romantic Hero in a wonderful way.

    Haven’t been able to stomach trying a Northanger Abbey rendition – I know it’s a lampoon of a book, but I never liked it.

    And your pick for S & S is my favorite, too.

    Thank you for a smile-prompting post. 🙂

  24. Rosie says:

    I had once made a list of my top five favorite Austen adaptations. In regard to “PERSUASION”, I listed all three versions – 1971, 1995 and 2007 – as a tie. I liked all three versions very much, due to the original story. But . . . all three had flaws that made it impossible for me to choose one above the others.

  25. Kirsten says:

    If I have a day to myself, which is rare, there’s nothing better than the Colin Firth viewing of P&P. I agree with the other poster about the scenery and music of the Keira Knightley version. Simply stunning. My only complaint with the Colin Firth version of P&P is that Jane is supposed to be the beautiful daughter and Elizabeth is supposed to be plain…but in that movie its the opposite. I didn’t find Jane all that attractive in that version. I love the Ehle and Firth were reunited in The Kings Speech.
    I’ll have to check out the newer version of Northanger Abbey. Its one of my favorite JA books to read, but the older movie didn’t do much for me.
    I LOVED Austenland. I think we can all relate a little bit to the main character. I carry my “I ‘heart’ Darcy” tote with pride.

    • Jess says:

      I feel the same way about Jane in that one too, but someone once mentioned to me that the Jane in the BBC version is the classical Greek/Roman kind of beauty and if viewed that way she would have been the prettier one. Interesting, but I still thought meh, about her!

  26. Elizabeth says:

    2009 Emma is also my favorite; Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller are just awesome! And I agree that both adaptations of S&S are great, but I have to favor the 2008 version. Kate Winslet is my absolute favorite part of the ’95 one, but I felt like the casting and overall feel of the new one does the book better justice. Cast ages are more on point, the coastal scenery is perfect, and… just being honest, Dan Stevens 😉 And I agree that the 2007 Persuasion is severely weakened by that atrocious kissing scene, but I do really love Rupert Penry-Jones as Wentworth. I’d be interested in another film take on that one though! And I know many people disown me as a true Austen fan for saying this, but I pick the 2005 Pride and Prejudice when asked. I think both adaptations are excellent and certainly both deserve much praise in different ways, but the 2005 one is just gorgeous and casted better to me (Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet is one of my favorites!). The music, scenery, costumes… all of it is beautiful! I do wish it wasn’t as rushed, but I think it still captures the heart of the book in an endearing and gorgeous way.

    • Joy Branham says:

      The only part that bothered me about the 2005 version of P&P is that Lizzie never wore a bonnet while all the other women and girls did! Totally anachronistic.

  27. Lynn D says:

    Maybe this goes in the list inspired by Jane Austen, but I also adore Lost in Austen. Watched it on ovation and had to buy it. I always watch it after Keira Knightly’s P&P.

  28. I had NO idea there was a version of Emma with Romola Garai – how marvelous! She is a fantastic actress and I was fortunate enough to see her on the stage in New York. Thanks for the tip!

  29. Rochelle Hershberger says:

    I am so tickled that the 2008 Sense and Sensibility is your favorite! I have made it my mission to spread the brilliance of this version to anyone who will listen 🙂

  30. Laura says:

    You hit the best ones. I did generally like the 1999 Mansfield park but I think that’s because I like Johnny Lee Miller as Edmund. So glad PBS (BBC?) redid the Austen films in 2007. It made for a fun couple of months as they were released 🙂

  31. Becki says:

    Oh, this is great! I thought I knew all the film versions of Austen novels, and you’ve come up with new (to me) ones. Hooray!
    So, have you ever watched Bride and Prejudice? It’s a Bollywood-themed version of P&P. I love the singing and dance-production numbers. I just watched it again and love it just as much as ever.
    And have you watched Clueless as an Emma adaptation? Totally fun!

  32. Cassie says:

    I’ve always felt like a lone duck in that Sense and Sensibility is my favorite Austen book and movie (Emma Thompson version). For Pride and Prejudice, I like Keira Knightley as Jane but Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy.

    • Lizzy says:

      I agree. Not faithful to the book necessarily but clearly created by someone who loved Austen and knew how to incorporate parts of Austen herself into the story (the history of England scene is quoting work Austen herself wrote in her younger years). Also Jonny Lee Miller makes for a very dashing Austen hero – hence why he’s been cast as one twice.

  33. Jennifer says:

    I really love the 1999 Mansfield Park. It wasn’t intended to be a faithful adaptation, but rather, a different perspective, much in the way Jo Baker’s “Longbourn” takes Pride and Prejudice as a starting point to enter that world from a different perspective. Choosing to infuse Fanny Price’s personality with that of Austen herself is the most daring of the film’s departures, and I can understand those who reject that choice and hence the rest of the movie. But I am not a huge fan of Fanny as she is, so I enjoy this alternative version. In the meantime, we get to examine class differences, the brutality that underlay the so-called aristocracy as they propped up their estates with slavery, the hypocrisy of all manner of social niceties that are really about trophy-hunting (material and amorous). The director, Patricia Romeza, said at the time that we have a habit of wanting to encase people of earlier times in a simplistic piety and fustiness, whereas they would have seen themselves as modern, they would have been looking on the previous generation’s mores as old-fashioned. And that is not far from what Austen herself does in the novel. Furthermore, it is a gorgeously filmed work with a lovely soundtrack. Don’t watch it if you just want the novel stuck on the screen for you; do watch it if you want to see how Austen can inspire a great movie.

  34. Nancy says:

    I completely agree with this list! Thank you! Being new to these movies, I’ve been binge watching them and have made sure to watch all adaptations. The one that I thought was terrible was Emma Thompson’s version of Sense and Sensibility. In my opinion it doesn’t compare to the 2008 version. It felt very rushed. Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman were much too old to be playing their characters. Both Thompson and Grant were 35 at the time playing a 19 and 23 year old respectively. Alan Rickman was 50 playing a 35 year old and was 30 years older than Kate Winslet. I know many love this version and I don’t mean to to be disrespectful. Just wanted to add my two cents.

  35. Nancy says:

    Just a side note, I loved Austenland! JJ Feild was perfect as Mr. Henry Nobley. I’ve just started watching Northanger Abbey and I was so happy to see him playing the character Henry Tillney. Jennifer Coolidge was hilarious. If anyone is hesitating watching it because it looks too silly, give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.

  36. Connor says:

    Stumbled across this while looking for new Austen adaptations. Wonderful list, on the whole, but I could not agree with your estimation of Hawkins’ and Jones’ kiss at the end of Persuasion. The actors considered it the “naughtiest” kiss ever in Austen, but besides that bit of originality I thought the kiss was an accurate interpretation of Anne’s earnest feelings, long bubbling under the surface and finally freed to burst forth in uncontainable passion and eagerness. Anne must meet him in this one instance, to give the seal to her promise of being immune to persuasion of any kind except their love.

    I would be interested, however, to hear why you disapproved of it so completely!

    • Lee Ann says:

      I thought it was ridiculous seeing Anne running all over Bath, and then, once she finds him, drawing out the kissing scene like they did. The poor woman looks like a guppy out of water.

  37. MsAnneElliot says:

    Great list. I see I am the odd one out. I completely disagree about Mansfield Park. I absolutely love the Francis O’Connor and Johnny Lee Miller version.

    • Nynaewe says:

      I agree with you, I really liked that movie. However it’s not a faithful adaptation, as they completely change the main character, Fanny (but since I did’t really like her in the book, I didn’t mind).

  38. Nynaewe says:

    I’m so glad that I’m not the only one appalled by the running scene in Persuations. I really liked the movie until then. I also liked the 1995 adaptation, but it frustrates me that none of the movies really captures the book.

    Romola Garai’s Emma is my fav as well and as to Sense and Sensibility I enjoy both of them equally, as both has some minor flaws.

    I did enjoy the 1999 version of Mansfield Park (but I am aware that they change Fanny a lot) and I loved Northanger Abby.

    Regarding Pride and Prejudice I used to swear to the 1995 version, however there is something about 2005 version that resonates with me. It’s such a beautiful film with an amazing cast. And the music and imagery is close to perfection.

  39. Irish0120 says:

    I’ve only read one comment on the Lizzy Bennet diaries. While it’s not a movie I thought it was a great adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in today’s society and I think opened Jane Austen’s world to an entirely new fan base.

  40. Sandra w says:

    No-one has mentioned Lost in Austen which is a scream and a lovely tribute to Jane Austen at same time. I too love Persuasion and don’t think a film version has done it justice yet although love the melancholy feel of the Amanda Root version. Richard Curtis or Andrew Davies or Sue Birtwhistle take note -a BBC series would be the best thing ever.

  41. P&P Lover says:

    Greetings Miss Darcy, I absolutely love P&P! So far I have only see the 1995 and 2005 adaptions though. Are there any other recommendation of other adaptions worthwhile watching. Honestly I just cant get enough of P&P action! XD

    Also,Have you seen the 1986 BBC adaption of Mansfield Park? I thought it was a nicer adaption compare to the 1999 and 2007 ones.

    • baercubs says:

      Yes the 1986 Mansfield Park is the best in terms of portraying Fannie as she was meant to be. Edmund is a serious believable aspiring cleric with a true moral feeling that matches Fannie’s. Of the other Edmunds from the other versions

      1. 1999 Jonny Lee Miller is acceptable (it’s really hard to say anything bad about him because he is a great guy) By the way Jonny Lee Miller also appears in the 1986 Mansfield Park as one of Fannie Price’s younger brothers in Portsmouth
      2. 2007 version. I found Blake Ritson in the 2007 version a complete drip; oozing with obsequious charm, too aware of his own good looks. He didn’t have the chops to be a believable preacher. He was the same in the 1996 Emma as Mr Elton.
      One of the versions has Fannie accepting Henry Crawford’s proposal while in Portsmouth, like in the book, and then turning him down the next morning when he comes back to see her with flowers. When she refuses him he leaves the house and smashes the flowers outside the house….my wife thought that was humungeously funny…that surprised me. I just found it unbearably awkward for him to come prancing into her house with flowers declaring his love enthusiastically then being told she changed her mind. I don’t like Henry Crawford, he’s the bad guy, but as a guy myself I have to cringe and feel like if that was me I’m not only feeling the sting of rejection and disappointment but the embarassment of being rejected in front of other people.

  42. Gabrielle Teinert says:

    I strongly recommend Bride and Prejudice! Admittedly I have a thing for Bollywood movies, but I love this movie. I even showed it to my sophomores after we finished reading the novel.

    • baercubs says:

      Seen parts of the Bollywood version, Bride and Prejudice. They do a very good job of presenting the two main protagonists just as in Jane Austen’s book & other western film adaptations. Great dancing too.

  43. Meg Albright says:

    So perhaps someone has already mentioned this (I didn’t feel like reading through all 112 comments), but did you know that the duel between Willoughby and Colonel Brandon is actually in the book? I missed it myself upon first reading S&S; but after seeing the 2008 BBC version, I wondered and so re-read it. It’s not depicted as an actual “scene” but is rather part of the conversation between Col. Brandon & Elinor, when he tells her the story of Eliza and why he left so suddenly (and Willoughby’s involvement). Here’s the excerpt:
    “Have you,” she [Elinor] continued, after a short silence, “ever seen Mr. Willoughby since you left him at Barton?”
    “Yes,” he replied gravely, “once I have. One meeting was unavoidable.”
    Elinor, startled by his manner, looked at him anxiously, saying
    “What? have you met him to –”
    “I could meet him in no other way. Eliza confessed to me, though most reluctantly, the name of her lover; and when he returned to town, which was within a fortnight after myself, we met by appointment, he to defend, I to punish his conduct. We returned unwounded, and the meeting, therefore, never got abroad.”
    Elinor sighed over the fancied necessity of this; but to a man and a soldier, she presumed not to censure it.

    And in the Norton Critical edition notes it reads: “Met to duel. Though illegal and widely criticized throughout the eighteenth century, dueling remained the customary means by which gentlemen settled questions of honor.”

    Definitely made me appreciate that added scene more. Well done, Davies! 🙂

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