With an Instagram username like @austen.etc it is a given that I watch a lot of Jane Austen film adaptations. I like most of them and love a lot of them. So, without further ado, my list of a Jane Austen fan’s favorite film adaptations. Enjoy!
Jonny Lee Miller. I don’t know if I need to say anything else…but I will. I love, love, love this version of Emma. I read Emma for the first time in high school and immediately hated the character of Emma, and I always thought she was the least relatable of Austen’s women. But, because Jane Austen is a genius, I think that was on purpose. Emma is meant to be spoiled, but she is also the head of her household. She’s meant to be headstrong and fiercely independent, while also relying heavily on those around her. The contrasts of Emma’s character are what give her depth and make her as iconic as she is. And Mr. Knightley is probably the best Austen hero. I will fight you on that.
There is so much I can say about Emma, but the main thing is this: This film adaptation encapsulates Emma’s loveable and hateful sides perfectly, it shows the loving friendship between Emma and Mr. Knightley in a way that makes you see how he benefits her, and what he sees in her without thinking that it’s a childish infatuation born of having no one else around. Beautiful, 10/10.
Literally had to watch the 1995 version before I wrote this because I’d never seen it, and I was blindly devoted to the 2007 version. And, after a night of thinking about it, I’m still blindly devoted to the 2007 version. I like both. The ending of the 2007 version bugs me because WHY IS SHE RUNNING? but the casting is just perfection through and through and they did a fantastic job with capturing their hesitation and longing. But I do love Wentworth in both versions. Still, 2007 has my heart, and I hesitate to have any hope for the upcoming 2022 version.
I know I’ve talked before about how much I love Persuasion, so really I’d watch any film adaptation of this fabulous novel a thousand times without any shame or regret. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times – Anne is a blessing to the literary world, and I need a Captain Wentworth in my life ASAP.
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
I’m probably going to get a lot of heat for this, but I have my reasons. Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle are gifts to this world and the 1995 version does the book justice in every way while also giving us the fresh-from-the-lake Darcy that we all didn’t know we needed. But it’s FIVE AND A HALF HOURS long…5…andahalf. It’s not a very accessible version of Pride and Prejudice and for that I must say, that the 2005 version allowed a whole new generation of people with attention issues to access this beautiful masterpiece of a story. When I have a decent amount of time, I’ll always go for the 1995 version. But 2005 took to heart something a lot of older movies need to learn: time is precious.
And I think we can all agree that the 2005 version is GORGEOUS!
I rest my case.
Mansfield Park (1999)
Jonny Lee Miller. It’s a recurring theme, but Jonny Lee Miller honestly does amazing work and is perfect for Jane Austen hero roles. He’s just so…lovely :). The 2007 version isn’t bad, and I definitely watch it if it’s what’s available, but I’ll always go for Jonny Lee Miller. And, honestly, I think both versions take liberties with the story so six of one, half dozen of another.
Sense and Sensibility (2008)
Sometimes I’ll watch the 1995 version just for Alan Rickman, but overall I like the 2008 version of Sense and Sensibility the best. This is probably my second favorite Austen novel so, again, I’m bound to watch any version that comes across my TV. Elinor is up there with Anne, in my estimation, in how valuable she is to the literary world and women across the globe. I’ve always wanted to be an Elinor. She’s so sweet and strong, humble and reasonable.
Northanger Abbey (2007)
The early 2000s were a good time for Jane Austen adaptations. Though there aren’t too many options when it comes to Northanger Abbey, and it’s certainly not a favorite of Jane Austen fans, JJ Field makes this version absolutely amazing! Tilney is super sweet and sarcastic and really finds his match in Catherine’s imagination. And as a bonus, I think it’s pretty accurate to the book!
Honorable Mention: Sanditon
They are doing their best. I know that doesn’t sound like a glowing review, but the BBC Masterpiece Sanditon has, I think, surprised us all with how well people who clearly aren’t Jane Austen have continued this story and developed its main character. Considering we were just meeting Sydney when the unfinished novel came to it’s unfortunate end, the writers of Sanditon have done a pretty good job of stepping into Austen’s shoes and doing her as much justice as possible. The show is pretty and sweet, with Jane Austen tropes and dashing young suitors. My primary complaint is the inevitable bits and bobs of modernity that have snuck their way in. But they’re working from eleven chapters, so we’ll grant them liberties.
What’s your favorite Jane Austen film adaptation? Let me know by tagging me (@austen.etc) in your Instagram Stories!
Happy reading and watching!