Posted: 20th Feb 2016
Topic: 200 Years of Pride & Prejudice
‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a zombie in possession of brains must want more brains.’
I have to admit that this opening line of Burr Steel’s film adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s bestselling book, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, had me reaching for the smelling salts …
As the action unfolded, however, many familiar and beloved characters emerged into the light. And it turned out that Mr Bennet, bless him, had provided for his daughters after all. They had been sent abroad for an education in the art of war – not to Japan, where the wealthy dispatched their children, but to China, destination of choice for the wise.
This was a nineteenth-century England at war. Zombies had conquered southern Britain and were advancing through London. Maybe that was why the defence stronghold of Rosings, originally in Kent, had been relocated to the Midlands. And Hertfordshire was of strategic importance: Meryton, Longbourn and Netherfield Park were within an easy distance of the crucial Hingley Bridge, which gave access to London – an early prototype of an M25 flyover?
Glimpses of Jane Austen’s more subtle war – of gender and of class – remained. But there was much more explicit fencing between Lizzy and Darcy, with frequent thigh flashing and even at one point some bodice ripping. Darcy, by the way, seemed to have raided Guy of Gisborne’s wardrobe – for those of you who appreciate black leather. And fundamentally everyone – apart from Wickham, naturally – was on the same side; including Lady Catherine who had somehow morphed into a Boadicea-like warrior queen.
All in all, an amusing romp that gouged great chunks of flesh out of a classic novel and combined them with zombie action. What would Jane Austen have thought? As the author of many an amusing romp herself - particularly A History of England, 1791 - she would no doubt have been excessively diverted!