Monster movies have been immensely popular for a few years now. They have been working their way into typical storylines, anything from post-apocalyptic scenarios to historical figures as demon fighters. I wanted to draw the line when they started popping up in my favorite literary novels, but after seeing the film version of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I changed my tune. Burr Steers’ movie is not what you would expect from the title, and who’s creativity was unmatched in recent mash-ups.
I love Pride and Prejudice, it’s been my favorite book for years now. The story is one of strength and determination, providing an inspirational love story that’s more intense than the common rom-com. When the novel of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies first came on the scene, I was hesitant. How can you interfere with such a classic by integrating modern themes into old world England? To be fair, I never read the book by Seth Grahame-Smith, but after enjoying myself during the film version, I am going to have to add it to my reading list.
The story of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies uses Austen’s version as a backdrop for an already in progress zombie outbreak. The two very different stories intertwined with each other seamlessly, as if these two themes were always meant to be. I appreciated the fact that there was a backstory to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, that the two stories didn’t start at the same time.
With the prologue explaining the history of the outbreak, the audience was able to focus on the fresh take of the story of Lizzy and Mr. Darcy. It became a project of telling a love story within the world of zombies, instead of forcing zombies onto a love story. The film blended them in such a way that works, and you enjoy seeing your favorite heroine kick-ass in epic proportions.
A story that is so beloved and replicated every couple of years, the audience has a defined representation of each of the characters that this story employs. The actors chosen for this rendition were unexpected, and relatively unknown. The fact that not many of these actors are varied enough in their careers to not have been typed casted leads to a freshness that is brought to the characters.
Lily James portrayed Elizabeth Bennet’s strength and independence with ease, and I fell in love with her version just as I had the literary one. It might have taken me a while to find my bearings with Sam Riley’s Mr. Darcy, but by the end of the film I was lost in his spirit. I may be biased, but Matt Smith makes a perfect Mr. Collins. He brings forth a daftness he is so good at, but never falling into his past beloved character (the 11th Doctor).
The element that made this movie launch my expectations out the window was the respect that was paid to the original version. This might seem like an odd statement considering there are zombies present, but Steers’ vision left the most precious aspects of the novel out of this interpretation. The scenes that are the heart and soul of this love story, the first dance and the finale, are manufactured in a way that doesn’t muddle in their original beauty. The scene that is the most heartbreaking, the insulting profession of love, is re-envisioned with gusto and strength that captures the inner desires of all fans.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is an interpretation, one of the best kinds. It understands that the mediums of novels and films are very different, especially when there is the added ingredient of zombies. Care was placed on finding a way for all three elements to live in harmony, without exploding one over the other. Keep in mind that I have not read Grahame-Smith’s novel, and am only comparing the film to the original, and cannot go into detail with the difference between the two zombie editions. For someone who is in love with the Austen novel, this film made me happy.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is exactly what it is supposed to be. A fun night at the movies with a beloved love story and well done action. Never did the film try to be anything other than what it was, which is why it’s such a great movie. I have always loved Lizzy Bennet, but never have I loved her more than when she’s eradicating zombies.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies opens nationwide on February 5th.
Written by Lisa Mejia