Jane Austen Smackdown

By Kristi S.

Prepare yourselves, because I am about to say something that will make bibliophiles everywhere angry: I hate reading Jane Austen. Years ago, I slogged my way through Pride and Prejudice and have not picked up another Austen novel since. I find that I lack the patience to sift through all the minor details.

But don’t abandon me yet! Even though I can’t get into the books, I absolutely love the stories. It’s undeniable that Austen is a witty storyteller and I love her characters and comedic timing. Fortunately, her novels have been adapted into many, many movies and series for me to enjoy.

For this post, I set out to watch and rank all the Austen-inspired films owned by Sno-Isle. My oldest sister Kacie, a possible Janeite, embarked on this journey with me to provide a true fan’s opinion. Let’s get ready to rumble.

Round One: Pride and Prejudice

     

Victory goes to: Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley

Kacie and I argued the most over this round. She loves the BBC adaptation, but I personally think it is too long. We’re also both big fans of Bride & Prejudice, but could we really say it is the BEST choice? The adaptation with Keira Knightley was the right length, well performed, and gave us that giddy Austen feeling.

Round Two: Emma

    

Victory Goes to: Emma starring Romola Garai

While we are fans of Clueless and thought the Gwyneth Paltrow adaptation was good fun, this BBC miniseries was spot on and beautifully shot. We loved it.

Round Three: Sense & Sensibility

   

Victory goes to: Sense & Sensibility starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet

No explanation needed, this win is incontestable.

Round Four: Favorite Miscellany

     

Victory goes to: Mansfield Park starring Frances O’ Connor

This was a divisive round! First off, judging different stories against each other is tough. Second, I have a strong love of Mansfield Park. I think it is refreshing and different and even the cover makes me smile. Kacie, not so much. She thinks it diverges too far from the book and Austen’s style. Her vote was for the BBC adaptation of Persuasion. For the record, she never conceded, I just ignored her on this round.

Final Round: Winner Take All

     

The Ultimate Champion: Sense and Sensibility starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet

Sense & Sensibility is a great story and this is the perfect adaptation. It is beautifully acted, full of great music, expertly shot, true to the novel, and just plain fun. Though individual rounds were fierce, Kacie and I were in complete agreement over the ultimate champ. May the Dashwoods reign supreme.

Check out all our final rankings in this list. Disagree with our decision? I’m ready for a battle in the comments!

Jane Austen Smackdown

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Comments

19 responses to “Jane Austen Smackdown”

  1. I’m with you on both the P&P and S&S adaptations, and I’ve placed a hold on your favorite Emma. However, did you watch the version of Pursuasion with Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds? That takes the cake for me. It’s such a delicate and deeply felt adaptation, and as I’ve gotten older I appreciate it more and more.

    • Kristi S. says:

      Yes, we did watch that one! Kacie was also a big fan. I think my general problem is that I am not a huge fan of the storyline of Persuasion. I was drawn more to the darker version by the BBC, but I can definitely see the appeal of the Amanda Root version and think it is likely closer to the book. Kacie will be pleased to hear that you agree with her!

  2. Erin L. says:

    The benefits to the BBC Pride and Prejudice are :
    1. The length makes it easier to stay closer to the book which I adore.
    2. Colin Firth
    3. Colin Firth
    4. Did I already say Colin Firth?

    • Kristi S. says:

      Incredibly sound and persuasive arguments, Erin. Colin Firth is an actual treasure and I will watch him in anything. 5+ hours of Colin Firth is incredibly pleasant, but 5+ hours of Jane Austen is a bit much for this non-Austen fan. The BBC version earned a sound third place on our list, but, your comments are helping to tip the scales! I might need to cave and agree with you and my sister on this one.

      • Erin L. says:

        Did you catch the reunion of Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle in “The King’s Speech”? Just a brief scene but the chemistry was still there. When they meet there was a little “do I know you”?

      • Kristi S. says:

        Adorable! It’s been years since I watched The King’s Speech. I must watch again to catch that Easter egg!

  3. Clarissa says:

    I am so happy you included Bride & Prejudice! This is one of my favorite P & P adaptations. I would also like to mention: Austenland (2013), Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016), both of which are also owned by Sno-Isle. Another favorite of mine (unfortunately not owned by Sno-Isle) is Lost in Austen (2008) with Gemma Arterton.

  4. Michelle C. says:

    BBC Pride & Prejudice FTW! #bestone #colinfirth #iwishitwaslonger

  5. vickmeister says:

    I too have struggled to read the books and found the films to be much more user-friendly. I heartily agree that the Emma Thompson “Sense and Sensibility” tops the list. Every time i see it show up on tv I somehow end up watching it again. While the Keira Knightley “Pride and Prejudice” was much to recommend it, including Keira as a perfect Elizabeth and other great casting, some excellent camera shots that can tell you many things just by panning across the room, it unfortunately has Lesser Darcy. He just can’t compete. Colin Firth all the way! 🙂

  6. Lois H says:

    In regards to Round Four: The BBC adaption of Persuasion is everything. Changed my life when I first saw it high school. It also doesn’t help that Mansfield Park is my least favorite Austen story. Sense and Sensibility deserves its crown though.

    • Kristi S. says:

      Ahhhh Lois, that was the hardest round! I knew my pick would be contentious. I also really enjoyed the BBC adaptation of Persuasion. The acting was superb and I loved the deep sense of place. You are definitely not alone in Mansfield Park being your least favorite Austen story, I saw that in almost every review of the film! I think it helps that I never read the book, so this movie is all I have to go on and I loved how different it was from other Austen films. Kacie will be so pleased that you agree with her choice. She is already gloating.

  7. Esme says:

    I’m sad so far no one has mentioned Northanger Abbey! It’s one of my favorite Austen books and I think the movie is charming.

    • Kristi S. says:

      Hi Esme! I think nostalgia plays a big part in choosing a favorite Austen adaptation, so people tend to gravitate towards the books they love best. Northanger Abbey was definitely not my favorite movie, but maybe my opinion would change if I’d read the book? Highly unlikely that I ever will, but I am glad to see you advocating for one of the lesser known stories!

  8. Michelle Hull says:

    I agree with everything except your pick for Pride & Prejudice. Colin Firth is perfect as Darcy, and the other characters – Wickham & Lidia, Mrs. Bennet, they are perfectly cast. Even though Keira Knightly was great, she can’t compensate for the rest of the cast. And longer just means more to love.

    • Kristi S. says:

      I believe you are in the majority, Michelle! I knew our P&P pick would be controversial. I love Colin Firth, but cannot sit through hours and hours of Austen. I imagine that those who are fans of the book are more amenable to the longer movies and series. Thanks for commenting, I think you will find many like-minded people in the comments!

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