Special Topics in Film: Jane Austen Adaptations
140 - 003 | CCN: 31726
Because of the vividness of her characters and storylines, which can be readily abstracted from her novels and molded to fit the romantic comedy genre, Jane Austen’s six completed novels have been repeatedly adapted for British and American film and television. They have been updated to contemporary times (Bridget Jones’ Diary, Clueless), adapted cross-culturally (From Prada to Nada, Aisha, Bride and Prejudice) and made to reflect particular religious views (Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy). Even a film biography of Jane Austen has been made to conform to formulaic aspects of popular romance cinema (Becoming Jane). Less likely to be included in film and television adaptations of Austen’s work is her often scathing social criticism, her mordant view of gender and familial relations entangled in economic necessities, and in general her authorial “voice,” which is distinctive in its irony and tone of cool judgment. Though a narrating authorial male voice has accompanied the adapted works of Charles Dickens and Henry Fielding, for example, there is no comparable narrating authorial female voice, at the beginning of the umpteenth film version of Pride and Prejudice, to inform us, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
In this course we will consider the strategies of various filmmakers in their attempts to convey or obscure Jane Austen’s “voice” in film adaptations of Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Emma.