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February 17, 2009

Jane Austen movies get a little stranger

I guess you can only tell the same story over and over again so many times before you start looking for ways to make it "new" again.

In recent years, Pride and Prejudice has been adapted as a BBC mini-series with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth and as a big-screen movie with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen, and it has also been honoured and spoofed and recontextualized in everything from Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) to Bride and Prejudice (2004).

Now get ready for the time-travel and space-monster versions.

Lost in Austen is a mini-series that aired on the ITV network in Britain last year, before coming to the United States in January; it stars Jemima Rooper as a modern woman who trades places with P&P heroine Elizabeth Bennet after the two of them discover a portal between Rooper's apartment and the world of P&P.

Variety reports that Columbia Pictures is now planning to turn this mini-series into a feature film, with Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) serving as a producer.

Meanwhile, Variety also reports that Elton John, of all people, is producing Pride and Predator, "which veers from the traditional period costume drama when an alien crash lands and begins to butcher the mannered protags, who suddenly have more than marriage and inheritance to worry about."

Personally, I'm all in favour of period-piece alien-invasion movies; there's no reason extra-terrestrials always have to meet us in the present day or in some far-off imaginary future. Even so...

Related Tags: lost in austen, pride and predator, pride and prejudice


"Lost in Austen" sounds like ITV's attempt to put a visual face on the concepts presented by Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next novel series. Those books take a person (Thursday Next) and present her as someone who can "book jump" into different stories and novels.

While the first Thursday Next book ("The Eyre Affair") is based upon the work of the Bronte sisters, I believe Austen comes into play in some of the later books.

I'm intrigued to see this film. My question is whether or not it's going to have the British tongue-in-cheek humor. It was that part of things that made the Jasper Fforde books re-readable.

Don't forget the most genius of them all, Seth Grahame-Smith's novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which is rumored to have been optioned by Natalie Portman's production company. The thought of Portman playing a zombie-slaying version of Elizabeth Bennet is enough to make a grown man swoon.