The Jess Lomas Book Club: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

The Jess Lomas Book Club: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

*Welcome to a brand new feature in which literary connoisseur Jess Lomas examines the upcoming book-to-film adaptations worth keeping an eye on!*

Did you watch the Oscars? Did you see Colin Firth accepting his first Academy Award for Best Actor in The King’s Speech? I was so proud. You see, I’ve been a Firthy fan since way back. Stick with me on this; I have a point, trust me.

Though he was an actor long before my first encounter with him, I fondly recall the first time Firthy was brought to my attention. It was 1995 and he was playing the dashing Mr. Darcy in a BBC miniseries of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. His emerging from a lake at Pemberley; soaked through and setting eyes upon the object of his desire, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, had women worldwide in a flutter.

I’ll take any opportunity to talk about Firthy, especially about his famous lake scene, but the real point of this is to discuss the upcoming adaptation of the monstrosity that is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. See, there’s that point I was talking about back in the first paragraph!

So, confession time – I haven’t actually read Seth Grahame-Smith’s 2009 novel. I did once read the first page and flick through it a little in Borders. I read the Wikipedia page for it in preparation for this article. That’s something right? Okay so I could be completely wrong, this book could be great – maybe.

Anyway, for those unfamiliar with this mash-up, P&P&Z (as it will here forth be referred to) is a retelling of the original story set in an alternate Regency-era England where zombies roam the countryside. Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters, Jane, Mary, Kitty and Lydia, are moulded into some sort of zombie fighting defence force thanks to Mr. Bennet. As in the original, Mrs. Bennet wants to marry the girls off and wealthy Mr. Bingley and wealthier friend Mr. Darcy just happen to move into the neighbourhood. Darcy, it appears, is a ‘monster-hunter’ – whatever that is – and this seems to cause friction between him and the young Miss Elizabeth.

When Darcy and Bingley flee the country to return to the safety of the city, Elizabeth is convinced she must kill Darcy for slighting her family. Now this is something I believe Ms Austen would not like to see. Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship develops and I’ll end my rundown there without giving too much away, although if you don’t know the original story well, you’ve had long enough to discover it! My favourite part of the official synopsis is when Wickham encounters an unfortunate accident that renders him an ‘incontinent quadriplegic’, because apparently living out his miserable life broke and married to Lydia just isn’t punishment enough.

Austen is credited with being the co-author of the book, mainly because the novel takes the original text and just inserts zombies. It soared up bestseller charts and now is set for a big screen adaptation.

I’m officially calling this production cursed, for the time being at least. It seems P&P&Z can’t hold down a director. First David O. Russell was slated to direct then the torch was passed to Mike White, who also stood down. Back in February we reported that next in the line up was Lars and the Real Girl director Craig Gillespie, though there has been no solid news since then. Natalie Portman is still producing though decided against playing the heroine Elizabeth Bennet herself.

Though no names have been confirmed for the starring roles, we reported last year that director David O. Russell favoured the likes of Scarlett Johansson and Bradley Cooper for Miss Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, a scenario which both scared and revolted me. So what young actress would be good for this role? Sticking with tradition and casting a British lead, we can rule out Keira Knightley who has already tried her hand as a Bennet back in 2005. Gemma Arterton would bring the necessary energy and “girl power” to Elizabeth Bennet: Zombie Slayer that most couldn’t, yet she too has already played the role, albeit a diminished version, in the 2008 miniseries Lost in Austen. We can’t rule out the casting of another nationality, after all, the Brits have taken many a “classic” American role, such as Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man.

With the influx of monster culture today – shows like The Walking Dead, films like the unmentionable ‘T’ movie, and a growing list of literary mash-ups including Little Women and Werewolves and Little Vampire Women – people should be jumping over themselves to make a film guaranteed to draw interest, so why is P&P&Z having such a hard time getting off the ground?

You may be asking at this point, why am I talking about a book that I refuse to read and a film that can’t even hold a director? Simply put, because you might like to add this title to your reading lists; and after all, with a 2013 release date I’ve given you enough time to not only read P&P&Z but the original novel too. And while you’re at it, why not check out Firthy in the BBC production if you haven’t already – it only goes for 5 hours!

Discuss: What are your thoughts on Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?

One Response to “The Jess Lomas Book Club: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”

  1. >More than anything, I'm going to be really interested in how they SELL this film. Will it be comedic like ZOMBIELAND, or maybe like a grindhouse film? That being said, I doubt it'll be any good.

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