Perhaps some of you have heard of Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the 2009 novel that took Jane Austin’s classic story of love, courting and rigid social procedure in early 19th century England and added a slight twist: an early 19th century England that’s slowing being infested with the walking dead. Well, today it was announced that Natalie Portman will not only be producing, but also starring in the movie adaptation of this adaptation of a book.
I have not read P&P&Z yet, but I know quite a few people who have. While I originally dismissed it as a silly gimmick (which made me sad because I actually really like the original), I have heard from multiple sources that the added zombie apocalypse is not only funny, but also kind of works within the story. Considering Elizabeth Bennett is arguably Austin’s strongest and most independent heroine, it’s not too much a stretch to see her taking on flesh-craving “strickens” (as they’re called in the book). Really, all of the Bennett girls have better qualities because Mr. Bennett taught all of them to kick some undead butt. The militia that camps out near town for no reason in Austin’s version has a reason in this one: again, the whole zombie thing. Darcy is apparently a monster killer, but just as haughty as ever, even during the zombie apocalypse. And Lady Catherine has a gang of ninjas, which doesn’t surprise me in the least. I’ve ultimately decided that I will have to read this book as soon as I have the extra funds to buy it (or until one of my many fans decides to give me it for Christmas… no pressure or anything).
The real question is, will this make as good of a movie as it does a book? While there are quite a few film versions of the story, I don’t think it’s an easy one to get right on the big screen. Even the well done 2005 film took me two viewings to really see how good it was. Darcy is a very hard character; the actor who plays him has to balance the outward coldness with his good naturedness that Elizabeth only discovers later. The audience must understand his reasoning behind his choices, but also see his remorse for his mistakes. And of course Elizabeth and Darcy must have chemisty without falling in love with each other too soon. It’s not an easy job, playing these characters, and I just wonder if they can keep all that up while decapitating zombies with katanas. I realize even the original is considered somewhat of a comedy, but I don’t want this to become simply a parody.
I honestly do like Natalie Portman as an actress and I think she could pull off playing Elizabeth. I think it just comes down to the script and who they get for the rest of the cast. For my money, I would absolutely love for Judi Dench to reprise her role as Lady Catherine. That woman deserves an army of ninjas.