Sunday, 19 September 2010


I needed to forget a hardworking Sunday (yes,Sunday!) and I put my Bridget Jones DVD set on : Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones - The Edge of Reason. I hadn't re-watched either of them since I had seen them long ago at the cinema. My purpose was pure escapism,of course, but also to discover how much Austen there is in them.

From Pride and Prejudice to Bridget Jones, from the books to the movies.

Helen Fielding (as Bridget Jones) wrote of her love of the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in her Bridget Jones's Diary column during the original British broadcast, mentioning her "simple human need for Darcy to get off with Elizabeth" and regarding the couple as her "chosen representatives in the field of shagging, or rather courtship".
Fielding loosely reworked the plot of Pride And Prejudice in her 1996 novelisation of the column, naming Bridget's uptight love interest "Mark Darcy" and describing him exactly like Colin Firth. Following a first meeting with Firth in person  during his filming of Fever Pitch in 1996, Fielding asked him to collaborate in what would become an eight-page interview between Bridget Jones and Firth in her 1999 sequel novel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Conducting the real interview with Firth in Rome (yes Rome!), Fielding lapsed into Bridget Jones mode and obsessed over Darcy in his wet shirt. Firth participated in the following editing process of what critics would consider "one of the funniest sequences in the diary's sequel". Both novels make various other references to the BBC serial.

1995 Pride and Prejudice writer Andrew Davies collaborated on the screenplays for the 2001 and 2004 Bridget Jones films, which would show Crispin Bonham-Carter (Mr Bingley in Pride and Prejudice) and Lucy Robinson (Mrs Hurst) in minor roles. The self-referential in-joke between the projects intrigued Colin Firth to accept the role of Mark Darcy, as it gave him an opportunity to ridicule and liberate himself from his Pride and Prejudice character. It's incredible , moreover, to notice how Colin Firth plays  Mark Darcy exactly as he played Fitzwilliam Darcy to show this sense of continuity or referentiality .

The producers never found a solution to incorporate the Jones-Firth interview in the second film, but shot a spoof interview with Firth as himself and Renée Zellweger as Bridget Jones after a day's wrap. If you haven't seen it yet , enjoy it now. Here it is!!! It's such fun!

The second book, The Edge of Reason,  was loosely inspired to Persuasion. But what about the movie? I can't find any Wentworth or Anne in that film.What about you? Any clue?

Analogies between Bridget Jones's Diary and Pride and Prejudice

The theme of marriage is crucial in Jane Austen's works and it is of relevant importance in P&P from the first page on. In today’s society a woman can usually provide for herself, since the majority has got an education and a job. In this way they are not economically dependent on a husband. It is no longer a woman’s “career” to get married. Still, it is of importance to get a husband. Marriage is still an ideal, and can thus be said to be important to many women. Today, as at that time, most of young womens dream about a good marriage.
Having a career is all well and good, but not if it is at the expense of finding Mr. Right.
In Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones’s Diary, these ideals are a theme. The aim for Elizabeth and Bridget is to find a good man. And in their story of finding Mr. Right there are similarities in the action and the characters. I will start with the character who distinguishes themself most, Mark Darcy and Mr. Darcy

Darcy’s character in both Pride and Prejudice and Bridet Jones’s Diary is similar.
First of all the name is the same, but as we get to know the character we can also recognize traits of the original Darcy.
In Pride and Prejudice Elizabeth overhears a conversation between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley when he talks about her at the first party:
“Which do you mean?” Mr. Darcy asked and turned round. He looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and said: “Well, she is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me” (....) Elizabeth remained with no very cordial feelings towards him"
In the film version Mark Darcy does the same as Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice; he disparages Bridget within her earshot.
The first impression of Darcy in both cases  is not the best, seen from the female characters’ point of view. Both of them misunderstand him. And he is easily misunderstood because of his beaviour. I will add that in the film versions of the books we see much more of his feelings. By physically seeing the character; you can see expressions and bodylanguage. Both stories are about first impressions, and what they can entail. Pride and Prejudice was also originally entitled First Impressions.

The difference between these two creations is that Mr. Darcy changes in Pride and Prejudice. He realizes that his behaviour towards Elizabeth has been supercillious. He excuses himself to her, and they have a conversation and resolve all misunderstanings when they meet at Pemberly.  Bridget’s Mark Darcy does not change, but he tells her that he likes her just the way she is, and that leads to Bridget’s misunderstandings being cleared up.

In Pride and Prejudice we meet Wickham. The first impression of him is that he is Mr. Right. He is handsome, charming and easy to speak with. Elizabeth develops a good relationship with him, and she finds him attractive. Wickham also shows interest in her:
"Wickham and another officer accompanied the sisters back to Longbourn and on the way he was almost exclusively engaged to her".
Our Wickham in Bridget Jones’s Diary is Daniel Cleaver. He is handsome, out- going, charming and popular among the women, like Wickham.  Daniel claims that Mark had a relationship with his former fiancée, while the truth is that it was Daniel who had a relationship with Mark’s former wife. Wickham claims that Mr. Darcy has not fulfilled old Mr. Darcy’s wish, and given Wickham his living . We know the truth is that Wickham was instead a libertine and a rogue.  In both cases the heroine believes in Wickham/Cleaver and this leads to sympathy for Wickham /Daniel and dislike of Darcy.

Last but not least, the name Pemberley is the name of Mr. Darcy’s property in Pride and Prejudice. In Bridget Jones’s Diary,  Bridget works at Pemberley Press.

Bridget Jones's Diary is one of the funniest Austen inspired movies I've ever seen. I simply love it. The sequel, Bridget Jones-The Edge of  Reason was amusing but not "to the point" as the first one. I read somewhere that , instead,  with the books it is just the opposite: the sequel is even better than the first novel. I can't say about the novels, because I haven't read them yet, actually.  However , I was glad I could revisit their adaptations and appreciate Colin Firth and Hugh Grant in their hilarious roles once more after such  a long time.


Eliza said...

In the book one can detect a bit of Persuasion. (which got lost in the movie. I cannot remember very well, but I believe they changed quite a lot in the second movie...even more than in the first)

But nevertheless I liked the first book (and the first movie) better than the sequels.

lunarossa said...

Hi MG, I'm a bit of a saddo, as I watched BJD 5 times at the cinema when it first came out and several times on video and dvd, after reading the book 2 o 3 times. I love(d) both as they are and not as a modern interpreation of P&P. Didn't even know that The Edge of Reason was loosely based on Persuasion. Surely I couldn't notice it in the film. I think that trying too much to find parallels between a classic and a modern interpretation can sometimes spoilt a bit of the fun of watching the film in itself. The BJ's interview with Colin Firth is fantastic, pity that they didn't manage to reproduce it inside TEOR. Thanks for remind me of that. Ciao. A.

Anonymous said...

I've been watching both movies recently too Maria. I love 1995 P&P and therefore enjoyed seeing Colin Firth as Mark Darcy especially in the first scene at the New Year turkeu curry lunch! I didn't notice Crispin Bonham-Carter or Lucy Robinson though! I'll have to go back and watch. The Edge of Reason was a bit darker in parts - I loved the scenes with Mark and almost cried when they broke up but I didn't see many parallels to an Austen. I loved the interview!! I also enjoyed Hugh Grant's performance.