Hollywood seems to have discovered Austen in the last two decades, but which adaptations and inspirations are the must-sees?

For an author who died almost 200 years ago, Jane Austen has an amazing number of fans. Maybe it’s costume drama like Downtown Abbey, Bridget Jones pining for her real-life Mr. Darcy, or the love of all things British from Harry Potter to Doctor Who fueling the surge, but people are discovering Jane Austen like never before.

Everyone seems to have heard of the love story of Pride and Predjudice‘s Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy, but Jane Austen’s other novels and even her real-life story have inspired adaptations. Here are the best of the best.

10. ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (1995)


There are other adaptations from a 1930’s black and movie movie, to a fairly recent Kiera Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen flick, but none is on par with the 1995 BBC miniseries. Everyone seems to know about Colin Firth, that infamous pond, and oh so clingy shirt. Even though Mr. Darcy didn’t take a spontaneous dip in the Pemberly pond in the Austen novel, the rest of the adaptation is spot on. Colin Firth’s brooding Mr. Darcy launched his career from relative unknown to household name. One of the best things about this adaptation is that since it is a miniseries rather than a two hour movie, lots of attention was able to be paid to character development and side stories. Every intricacy is explored from Lizzie and Darcy’s love-hate relationship, to Lizzie’s confrontation with Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

Best Scene: Any time Lizzie is arguing

9. ‘Sense Sensibility’ (1995)


Sense and Sensibility works amazingly well given its number set of firsts. It was the first Western film directed by Ang Lee. It was Emma Thompson’s first attempt at writing a screen play. It was one of Kate Winslet’s first films. The result was that it swept the BAFTA’s and snagged seven OSCAR nominations, including a win for Thompson. The cast includes many who are now major stars, but then were little known U.K.-based actors such as: Hugh Laurie, Alan Rickman, and Imelda Staunton. The two key love stories are between Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant’s Eleanor and Edward, and Kate Winslet and Alan Rickman’s Marianne and Brandon. Both couples have amazing chemistry. If you’ve only ever seen Alan Rickman as the cold-hearted Snape, here he plays the ever faithful yet unrequited love.

Best scene: Colonel Brandon begging Eleanor to “give him an occupation”

8. ‘Clueless’ (1995)


Just in case you think Jane Austen is only costume drama and can’t be updated, think again. Clueless was inspired by the Austen novel Emma. Emma is an incorrigible matchmaker in the novel, and her counterpart, Cher, played by Alicia Silverstone in the movie, is just as bad. Matchmaking has been around for centuries, and clearly the meddlesome matchmakers’ techniques and insights haven’t improved any over time. True love tends to find you when you least expect it, and often it’s right under your nose. The movie’s standouts are Paul Rudd as Cher’s best friend and eventual love, and the late Brittany Murphy’s Tai.

Best Scene: Josh and Cher finally admitting their feelings for each other

7. ‘Bride and Prejudice’ (2009)

Bride and Prejudice-

Who doesn’t love a movie musical? What could be better than a Pride and Prejudice themed musical only Bollywood style. It’s a whole Indian culture meets Western culture mash-up with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, the darling of Bollywood, as the Lizzie Bennett character and Martin Henderson as Darcy. Naveen Andrews, of LOST, plays Bingly, but a much more assertive one than is in the novel. If you’ve never seen a Bollywood film this is a good way to test out the genre.

Best Scene: Dance sequence featuring Naveen Andrews. He does all his own dancing though he has never had formal training.

6. ‘The Lizzie Bennett Diaries’ (2013)

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Jane Austen was brought swiftly into the modern day in this witty adaptation that turns Pride and Prejudice‘s Elizabeth Bennet into a video blogger. Clever use of transmedia elements, like spin-off web series and social media accounts, allowed the audience to enter the world of Austen in a unique way. But the particular the strength of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries lies in the focus on the supporting characters, and especially on Lizzie’s relationship with sisters Jane and Lydia, and best friend, Charlotte. The Lizzie and Darcy romance is still key (and don’t worry, you’ll get your swoon-worthy moments), but in this story romance is not the only important thing – and we love that.

Best scene: Lizzie tells Lydia she loves her after they reconnect

5. ‘Lost in Austen’ (2009)

lost in austen

What would you do if you suddenly discovered that all you had to do to go back in time was open a door in your bathroom? That’s exactly what happens to Amanda when she finds Lizzie Bennett in her bathtub enjoying flowing hot water and a bubble bath. She swaps places with Lizzie Bennett, who wants to live in present-day London, and meanwhile, she tries to fit in at Pemberley. As you can imagine, things don’t go well from Wickham being not at all what she expected to Caroline Bingly confiding she’s a lesbian and making a pass at Amanda. Fights, near fatal wounds, and four episodes later all is finally resolved in a not quite predicable ending.

Best Scene: Amanda asking Darcy to reenact the Colin Firth pond scene

4. ‘Becoming Jane’ (2007)

becoming jane

So how exactly did Jane Austen get to be Jane Austen? Relatively little is known about Austen save for the material found in her private journals, and frankly they weren’t all that revealing. In Becoming Jane, Anne Hathaway plays Jane whose life plays out as a cross between actual, historical events, and the events of her novels. There are homages and parallels to all of Austen’s novels most notably Pride and Prejudice. James McAvoy plays Tom Lefroy, a real-life beau of Austen’s who many speculate was the model for Mr. Darcy. The story isn’t so much historical as it is a romance with lots of twists and turns.

Best Scene: Twist ending which we won’t spoil

3. ‘Mansfield Park’ (1999)


Mansfield Park is a tough novel to adapt. Many people don’t like the heroine, Fanny Price, because they find her a bit too preachy and stiff. However, director/writer Patricia Rozema came up with an interesting solution. She used the story of Mansfield Park as a guideline, and then inserted pieces from Austen’s early writings and her actual life. Instead of a preachy and moralistic Fanny that no one likes, the result is a charming, young women trying to discover where she fits in a world of unrequited love and unfeeling relatives. Jonny Lee Miller of current Elementary fame plays Fanny’s unrequited love, Edmund.

Best Scene: Edmund and Fanny after Fanny discovers something she is not supposed to late one night

2. ‘Persuasion’ (1995)


Along with Mansfield Park, Persuasion doesn’t get nearly enough love from adaptations. Anne Elliot was persuaded not to marry the love of her life, Frederick Wentworth, because at the time, he was a man of inferior prospects. Now, ten years later, the tables are turned. Anne is considered to be an “old-maid” and her family’s fortune is endangered. When chance throws Anne and Frederick together, can their romance be rekindled, or will they each be persuaded again not to follow their hearts? Ciarán Hinds plays the dashing Captain Frederick Wentworth.

Best Scene: Anne reading a very key letter

1. ‘Emma’ (1996)

Dalibor Milosevic

Matchmakers have been around since the beginning of time. Nothing seems to be able to stop them from their meddling. They don’t even seem to learn their lessons when one disaster strikes after the next. Gwyneth Paltrow plays the charming Emma who keeps trying to get Harriett, played by Toni Colette, a match. Predictably, it doesn’t work. Jeremy Northam plays George Kinghtly, the neighbor who Emma has always considered an older brother, but who now might be something more.

Best Scene: Emma having a meltdown in the garden

Which Jane Austen project interests you the most?

Marvel revealed today that a new television series, Legion, has been picked up by FX for the 2017 season!

Legion has been picked up by FX for an 8-episode season to air early in 2017. The series is being described as, “The story of a troubled young man who may be more than human.” Dan Stevens, Rachel Keller, Jean Smart, Aubrey Plaza, Jeremie Harris, Amber Midthunder, Katie Aselton, and Bill Irwin are set to star in the series, which will begin filming this summer in Vancouver.

Legion will follow the story of David Haller, who has struggled with mental illness since he was a teenager. He’s been in and out of psychiatric hospitals ever since being diagnosed as schizophrenic. However, a strange encounter with another patient has David wondering if the voices he hears and his visions might be real.

FX President of Original Programming Nick Grad teased the series by saying, “We’ve come to expect excellence from Noah Hawley and with Legion he has delivered another major creative achievement. Just as he did in reimagining Fargo, he is bringing an entirely new aesthetic and sensibility to the enormously popular and richly represented X-Men world.”

Executive Producer and Head of Marvel TV Jeph Loeb added, “Marvel Television is thrilled to not only have our first partnership with FX go to series, but working with the enormously talented Noah Hawley makes it even better. From the first time we heard Noah’s vision to his exceptional script and cast through the extraordinary filming of the pilot, we knew the series would be incredible.”

In the comics David Haller is the son of Professor Charles Xavier and Gabrielle Haller. A mutant like his father, David also suffers from several mental illnesses, including dissociative identity disorder. Each of his personalities controls one of his superpowers. David eventually joined his father in the mission to help humans and mutants coexist. I’m intrigued to see how FX might connect Legion to the X-men universe.

Will you tune in to watch ‘Legion’ on FX?

Disney has just announced a few new details about their Mary Poppins sequel starring Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, and directed by Into the Woods helmer Rob Marshall.

The movie is officially titled Mary Poppins Returns and will hit theaters December 25, 2018. The date is the same one Disney used for their 2014 musical adaptation of Into the Woods. Mary Poppins Returns is being billed as a sequel to the 1964 original.

Here’s Disney’s official synopsis for Mary Poppins Returns:

Blunt has been cast as Mary Poppins and Miranda will play a new character, a street lamplighter named Jack. Drawing from the wealth of material in P.L. Travers’ seven additional novels, the story will take place in Depression-era London (when the books were originally written) and follows a now-grown Jane and Michael Banks, who, along with Michael’s three children, are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins following a personal loss. Through her unique magical skills, and with the aid of her friend Jack, she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives.

Said Rob Marshall in a statement, “I am truly humbled and honored to be asked by Disney to bring P.L. Travers’ further adventures to the screen. The iconic original film means so much to me personally, and I look forward to creating an original movie musical that can bring Mary Poppins, and her message that childlike wonder can be found in even the most challenging of times, to a whole new generation.”

Mary Poppins Returns is the latest in a line of live-action sequels and remakes Disney has put into production. Others include next year’s Beauty and the Beast, which the studio just unveiled a trailer for. Last week we also heard that they’re working on a live-action Little Mermaid movie.

Are you okay with a Mary Poppins sequel?

The Harry Potter play Cursed Child opens in a week, and we’ve just got our first look at Ginny Potter née Weasley. But not everyone is impressed.

Harry Potter fans have long ago resigned themselves to the fact that Ginny Weasley, badass Quidditch superstar and Voldemort possession survivor, is doomed to exist on the fringes of the story.

Despite her undiluted badassery, Ginny floated on the edge of canon throughout the Harry Potter book series, and for this reason, there are unfortunately many fans who simply don’t see Ginny as anything other than Harry’s only heterosexual ticket into the OBHWF.

But while Hermione Granger (rightfully) takes up most of the spotlight as far as female representation is concerned, J.K. Rowling actually created an equally important female character in Ginny Weasley, despite — or maybe because — of her absence from Harry’s part of the story.

Related: 9 reasons why Ginny Weasley’s cooler than the movies give her credit for

Reading the book saga closely will reveal that Ginny Weasley was actually better than everyone (and she knew it). And the fact that she got to be such a quietly confident BAMF, without Harry ever being consciously aware of it (though clearly it made an impression!), definitely meant a lot to me as a young girl growing up Potter.

Ginny may not have been the Chosen One, or the Chosen One’s best friend, but she kicked ass — and continued to kick ass — whether or not anyone gave her credit for it.

Let’s recap the awesomeness of Ginny Weasley:

  • Ron may have been Harry’s best friend, but his little sister was the seventh Weasley child and the first girl in seven generations. Talk about your magic number!
  • By all accounts, she was an immensely powerful witch: Growing up with six brothers made her resilient and hard-working, and she seemed to have the same extraordinary raw talent as Fred and George (but she applied herself more).
  • She was possessed by Voldemort in her first year at Hogwarts, literally making her the only person even remotely qualified to understand what Harry was going through. This came to a head in Order of the Phoenix, when it was Ginny of all people who stood up to Harry and told him that he was being stupid.
  • She overcame her crush on Harry and went on to have a rich and interesting social life which didn’t involve him. When Harry finally noticed and fell in love with her, she didn’t let that slow her down.
  • She stood up for both Neville and Luna, clearly cool and self-confident enough not to care what anyone thought of her companions (unlike Harry, who was far more judgemental towards both Luna and Neville).
  • She was a professional Quidditch player, even taking Harry’s place as Seeker for a while before landing a spot as Chaser while still at Hogwarts.

For all this, Ginny never really amounted to the ‘fourth member of the trio’ fans might have hoped for ahead of Deathly Hallows. She didn’t join Harry, Ron and Hermione on the Horcrux hunt (solely because Harry wanted to ‘protect’ her), and yet her badassery continued to assert itself behind the scenes, as she joined Dumbledore’s Army at Hogwarts and fought in the ensuing battle.

To me, it always felt like the essence of Ginny, the soul of this character, simply would not be repressed no matter how much J.K. Rowling tried to bench her (and the benching in itself was not an issue; Ginny was never meant to be a main character, and as laid out above, it actually worked to her benefit).

Ginny Harry 2

But unfortunately, the Harry Potter movies have done a lot to undo the subtle ways in which Rowling empowered Ginny between the lines. With Ginny’s value in the story mostly inferred rather than expressly stated, it clearly became as easy of a subplot to trim away as Nearly Headless Nick’s deathday party.

Ginny had hardly any presence in the movies at all, peaking in Chamber of Secrets (because they couldn’t completely ignore her in that one) and otherwise having only a few scattered, out-of-context moments of empowerment that still paled in comparison to the material given to characters like Fred and George, Draco, Luna, and Neville. Heck, even made-up character Nigel had more of a presence in the movies than Ginny did.

And of course it didn’t help that Bonnie Wright (who is a talented actress — check out After the Dark and see for yourself) had no chemistry with Dan Radcliffe, and that they gave the best Harry/Ginny moment of the series to Ron/Lavender for some inexplicable reason.

But still she married Harry, and still they had three kids (all of whom were named after people important to Harry, but alright). The One Big Happy Weasley Family prophecy came true, and all was well…

Until now. (Dun dun dunnn.)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opens for previews in London next week, and everyone’s excited for the trio and their kids to return. Once again Ginny is getting second billing, not being announced as part of the main cast, but rather revealed a week before the show opens, along with a photograph of Poppy Miller in character:


There’s also a family portrait of Ginny, Harry and their son Albus, with Ginny holding on to her youngest son protectively (there’s that mother’s love again), kicking us in the feels because it’s pretty much exactly what Harry saw when he looked into the Mirror of Erised:

l-r Harry Potter (Jamie Parker), Albus Potter (Sam Clemmett), Ginny Potter (Poppy Miller)

And I actually love this. I love that Ginny is included (especially since, um, Harry’s other two kids are nowhere to be seen), front and center by Harry’s side.

As far as her clothes go, no, I’m not a fan. They remind me too much of movie-Ginny’s getup in the epilogue, and it’s just not what I’d imagine she’d wear. But it’s just an outfit; it doesn’t actually tell us anything about Ginny’s role in the play, so I’m not too worried about that.

What I am worried about is the fact that she’d be revealed here as part of Harry’s Erised fantasy. It’s doubtless we’ll see more character reveals over the coming days, and Harry will likely factor into more constellations (notably the Ron-Hermione-Harry group photo we’re all waiting for). Ginny probably won’t.

I’m worried that Ginny’s role in this story will amount to being Harry’s wife and Albus’ mom. Not that J.K. Rowling hasn’t full well established that The Power of Motherhood pretty much overrules everything else, but that’s not what Ginny is — or, rather, that’s not all she is. As much as I love Molly Weasley, Ginny represented a different kind of female character. I hope the play stays true to that.


As a long-time Ginny fan used to everyone overlooking and under-utilizing this fantastic character, I’m just desperately hoping now that the eighth Harry Potter story will give us the Ginny we know from the books, rather than her inferior on-screen counterpart. While Cursed Child isn’t and shouldn’t be about her, I’m hoping this is Ginny’s chance to reclaim some of the agency the movies robbed her of.

And call me an optimist, but I’m hopeful that this is exactly what Cursed Child is gonna give us. I trust that J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany don’t let the movies’ depiction of Ginny influence what is supposed to be the next installment of the book series.

In J.K. Rowling’s own words on Pottermore, Poppy Miller’s Ginny will be, “Kind and cool, exactly as I imagined her.” It’s not the bat-bogey hexing firecracker we know and love, but hey, everyone grows up, right? So even if we get just a couple of scenes with Ginny, let’s presume she’ll be her badass, Quidditch player self, and that she’ll be given space to exist in her own right, rather than as a prop in Harry’s perfect family.

She may not have been the most important character in Harry Potter, but she was my favorite, and Cursed Child has an opportunity to undo the damage the movies did to this fantastic, empowering heroine. Let’s hope they take it.

Are you looking forward to seeing Ginny Potter in ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’?