Austen Adaptations: Beginner’s Kit

The world is waiting with baited breath for the release of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, something that promises to be a true cinematic masterpiece. It’s amazing to think of the milestones that Austen adaptations have achieved since their first renderings on screen. Mostly-accurate-to-the-books period drama series, film adaptations, YouTube vlog series, South Asian musicals, you name it. And now, with the advent of the most recent concoction with Darcy and Lizzie butting heads as zombie hunters, it seems like the perfect time to revisit all the lesser known Austen features.

Kandukondain Kandukondain/ I Have Found It

A South Indian musical adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, this one combines beautiful cinematography, emotive musical numbers, and the effortlessly beautiful saris.

The story translates exceptionally well to Indian Tamil culture, with the sisters fighting for security for their family, their independence and personal happiness. Just like the book, the best aspect is the bond between the two sisters. Aishwarya Rai is captivating as the effervescent Meenakshi (or Margaret Dashwood), and Tabu’s portrayal of the level-headed Sowmya (Elinor Dashwood) is simultaneously inspiring and heart-breaking. Austen’s characters always work beautifully together, and the two leading ladies convey this chemistry beautifully on screen.

Lost in Austen

Technically not an Austen adaptation – more of an Austen tweaking. Lost in Austen is the story of Amanda, who gets magically, farcically, dragged into the fictional world of Pride and Prejudice.

While this may seem like the ultimate dream of Austen afficianados, Amanda quickly catches onto the difficulties that come with a decided lack of technologies, (even more) constricting society rules, and the extra sad decided lack of flushing toilets.

If you aren’t a die-hard Austenie, then you’ll be better equipped to bear all the adjustments this adaptation makes to the original plot. Die-hard fans, take enjoyment, instead, in the enormously hysterical situations that Austen only ever hinted at at.

Clueless

You didn’t think that a list of Austen adaptations would leave Clueless out, did you?

Though many may not be aware, Clueless is an adaptation of Austen’s Emma, of whom Austen is known to have said “I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.”

This time Emma becomes Cher, the wonderfully wealthy, fabulously stylish, consistently lucky (except for when she’s not) high schooler, who believes everything will go her way. And if it doesn’t, she simply makes it do so. Cher, like Emma, will grate on you, but beneath her chatty obliviousness is a kind heart, and good intentions, all of which ultimately endear you to her. Like all of Austen’s heroines, Cher’s journey includes navigating society, self-discovery and friendship, though this time around there’s a lot more plaid and boa involved.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

This YouTube vlog series took the social media world by storm. Adopting YouTube as its platform, along with Facebook and Twitter, Bernie Su and the rest of The LBD team pioneered a truly interactive and immersive experience for the viewers.

Along with Lizzie’s vlogs, fans were able to interact with the characters themselves, and receive answers to their questions via the various social media platforms. Sporting a diverse cast, and sharply humorous writing, this little gem was also the first ever literary vlog series to win an Emmy.

Aisha

This is a Bollywood adaptation of Emma – again, the tricky social situations, and Emma’s hankering for matchmaking translate well to this setting. Aisha is a beautiful young socialite who decides to take her new, uncouth friend under her wing. While all her intentions are good, it doesn’t take long for Aisha to let her arrogance and enthusiasm spiral out of control.

Unlike the usual musical numbers of Bollywood films, this one opts for a different approach with instrumental tracks accompanying montages. It’s also brimming with stunning backdrops and beautiful outfits.

Emma Approved

Another vlog series! Great for anyone with commitment issues; the episodes are on average three and a half-minutes, and are easily enjoyed at any time of the day: as soon as you wake up, before you go to bed and anytime in between.

Jokes aside, these vlogs are a great introduction to Austen’s novels, as they follow the plot pretty closely. The modernization also allows for more inclusiveness in terms of representation, and as a long time Austen fan, it’s pretty darn refreshing.

I’ll admit, the writing in this one wasn’t quite up to par with The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, but it still packed several humorous punches, and was also super adorable.

There you go, Austen amateur, something to tide you over for whenever you feel like you’re nearing the end of the Austen Adaptation rope. These adaptations will set any obsessive little heart aflutter.

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Faustina was reading when she popped out of the womb. Probably. Reading is her life, and she’ll read pretty much anything. After reading her way through primary, high school, and university, and finding she hasn’t gotten sick of it, she’s still reading now. Her favourite genres are YA, realist fiction, and magical realist fiction, with a strong focus on diversity. She believes that houses should have in-built bookshelves in all the rooms, and that ebooks and printed books can get along.

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