Especially recently, Jane’s works have been subject to many movie versions. Some are very good. Some are not worthy of being touched by a true Jane-ite (ahem, Keira Knightley P&P?!). So, here’s my list of approved Jane films, if you want to start here, instead of the novels.
- Pride and Prejudice, BBC, 1995: THE VERSION. The only version. Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. The Wet Shirt Scene. Perfection. Available on VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray. Must-have. Must-see. This is, essentially, the entire novel, in six hours. If this doesn’t make you want to fall head over heels for Jane, I worry about you.
- Sense and Sensibility: 1997, Ang Lee directed. Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet. Alan Rickman as a good guy! (DVD, possibly Blu-Ray) A good second is the recent BBC version with Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley! Squee!), Charity Wakefield and Hattie Morihan. Dan Stevens. Wet shirt. Chopping wood. And a duel! DVD (possibly Blu-Ray)
- Mansfield Park: 1999, Frances O’Connor, Jonny Lee Miller, Victoria Hamilton. Harold Pinter is Sir Thomas! This adaptation also includes quotes from Jane’s juvenalia (her early writings), passed off as Fanny’s writing. This really captures the vitality of the novel–a perfect edition. DVD
- Emma: 2009, BBC. The only version of Emma where I like Emma! Romola Garai, Michael Gambon (Prof. Dumbledore) as Emma’s father, and Jonny Lee Miller (from MP, above) as Mr. Knightley.
- Persuasion: Two versions, tied. One, Sony Pictures Classic, 1995, with Amanda Root as Anne. Does the story justice: really fleshes it out, and Anne is so very sympathetic. Also the BBC’s version ( 2007), with Sally Hawkins as Anne. This has a great scene–Anne playing Moonlight Sonata when Wentworth walks in, which I love–but is also a bit hurried. But both versions have their merits. Both available as DVDs, although the 1995 might be hard to find.
- Northanger Abbey: Yes! There is a version! BBC, 2007, with Felicity Jones as Catherine. DVD.