The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Regency has taken retreat, Pride and Prejudice has been given an all-American modern overhaul!

 

Perhaps the most famous modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is the 2005 film version staring Kiera Knightly, however does this make it the best? I think not.

 

Termed by The Guardian as the ‘best Jane Austen small-screen adaptations’, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, is a modern, upbeat and highly addictive series of home video style vlogs by the leading lady herself, Lizzie Bennet.

 

True to the original, Austen’s Mr Bingley becomes the object of desire, yet is characterised to be the infamously rich single neighbour and trainee doctor, Bing Lee. Mr Darcy has also been given a modern twist characterised as an assumed ‘Dub Step Dj’ named just Darcy. Lydia, takes the form of the slutty younger sister whilst Jane and Elizabeth (despite the abbreviated name) remain true to their original regency selves, with a few modern twists. In fact, I believe that this adaptation has become so successful as despite the modern overhaul, this unfiltered feed remains true to the general narrative of the 1813 novel, as the concerns of marriage, morality and overbearing parents still remain current themes and concerns to 21st century women.

 

Pride and Prejudice has remained so popular since its publication to the current day because the of the characters created by Austen. Despite their then social constraints, they still remain relatable as they are at the end of the day teenage girls, troubled over relationships, a social normality that will never change. However, the use of technology here and viewer interaction via Facebook and Twitter, can almost make it feel like you’re involving yourself in a little piece of Austen as it really brings to life the original characters in a way that is interactive and true to the modern audience.

 

The vlogging style is clearly aimed and to be appreciated by the teenagers of the YouTube generation where talking frankly about life’s worries to an anonymous audience is the norm. Yet, I think that this is a style that is perfectly suited to the original as the reader also is fed a conscious stream of thought and information by Austen.

 

I also the fact that cleverly, archaic language has even been worked into the script for comedic value. Lizzie demonstrates this through the constant allusion towards Jane’s use of ‘feminine favours’. I think we all know what she means by that…

 

Initially when watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, I immediately compared this to the film Easy A (which makes reference to the novel The Scarlett Letter). However, I believe that this adaptation is so much more successful as it encapsulates the entirety of the original Pride and Prejudice novel without the need for many changes or even direct reference to the original text and places it in 21st century society in a technological way which could be realistically achieved.

 

9 thoughts on “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

  1. I felt that this adaptation reinstates the original readership for Pride and Prejudice and makes me, a male in his 20’s, feel a lot better about not liking either the book or the vlogs. Then again, I think it is aimed at 14 year old girls in the same way as The Hunger Games is aimed at 14 year old girls: a lot of people who aren’t female and 14 may not like it, but there is certainly going to be a lot of them that do.

    The Lizzie Bennett Diaries are a great take on adaptation, and it understands the vlog style it is working with very well. It is aided by the vlogging genre that YouTube is currently known for. The use of quick cuts after each sentence, though insufferable to some, works to lull the audience into a familiar viewing that makes it almost more realistic. In the same way, the use of static camera (similar to a webcam)/bedroom decor/20something female with the personality of a young adult, shows an understanding of the young audience.

    Given that this genre of novels and of vloggers has now been done in such a successful way, it makes me wonder what other novels this could work well with? What about a travel blog based Heart of Darkness? Or, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express? Perhaps, in a similar way but considerably more controversial, though appropriate for its time, a vlog adaptation of Diary of Anne Frank based in Syria? The last suggestion being a little more tongue in cheek than the first two.

  2. I read Pride and Prejudice for A Level English Literature and have just discovered The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which is my guilty pleasure. I didn’t want to watch it, but I, like others (who won’t admit), couldn’t stop.

    Why? It captures the novel in a digitally, annoyingly-enticing way that is true to the original text.

    I have watched the film but I love the idea of reinventing Elizabeth Bennet as Lizzie, the modern day woman. She vlogs her thoughts providing a 3-dimesional element character who is entertaining and relatable for younger generations.

    Furthermore, this series expands and has even welcomed new book material in the form of ‘The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet proving the possibilities are endless when it comes to digital adaptations.

    This classic is accessible to a wider audience with the use of vlogs. That doesn’t mean to say that people shouldn’t read the book. It is not a case of replacing the book but a celebration of the classic by reinvention, ultimately, so it lives on.

    I was happy to discover that Pemberley Digital (the video web production company behind it all) has produced other vlogs such as, Emma Approved (Jane Austen’s Emma), Frankenstein (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein) and my personal favourite, The March Family Letters (Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women).

    I am embarrassed to say but I am a fan of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and I’m not the only one as the 2,266,293 views of the first episode speak for themselves.

    In essence, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, in particular, is like Marmite and I must say I hate to admit, but I’m a lover.

  3. I think I must be one of the few English Literature students who hasn’t read Jane Austen’s novel, however, I’m certainly familiar with the story line, especially with all the recent adaptions. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, though excessively eccentric and notably cringe-worthy in places, implements its vlogging style very effectively. YouTube is up there alongside Twitter and Instagram for social media interaction and, as Ashley mentioned, the setting and content of the vlogs do target its intended audience, who I’m pretty sure I don’t fall into (unfortunately…).

    In terms of staying true to the original story, as far as I’m aware, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries does this accurately and modernise the tale so it is more suited to the style they present it in (i.e. changing names to more current ones, modernising characters etc.) as a vlog to a moderately young audience, an audience that has grown up surrounded by technology and knows how to use it like putting pen to paper.

    Overall, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries seem to be an adaption suited to teenage girls, about a novel that is written for women. It wouldn’t make sense to not play around with the characters and simply vlog an account exactly depicting the novel, as the audience is more mature. Vlogging is an effective way of encouraging interest in books in young people because they can interact with a classic novel on a platform which their generation is familiar with, without the stigma of reading something ‘old-fashioned’.

  4. I would describe The Lizzie Bennet Diaries somewhat like a car crash; you just can’t look away, even if you want to.

    I have a serious dislike of adaptations that butcher the original, and while I can understand why some may find the Lizzie Bennet Diaries appealing, it is hard to justify an adaptation that dumbs down such a classic.

    While it is good that the vlog adaption of Pride and Prejudice can make it more accessible to a younger audience, the question must be asked whether it is the right way to engage with a younger audience? Should we encourage the dumbing down of literature?

    Although I know so far I’ve sounded very critical of the Lizzie Bennet diaries, I can recognise the effort put in to capture the essence of the book and how successful this has been. Immediately I could see the similarities between the novel and the vlogs, and how they effectively managed to make a somewhat childish, modern adaptation of an Austen classic.

    I might not have taken such a disliking to it if the original was not an all time favourite of mine. I have watched both the 1995 mini-series with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, and the 2005 film starring Keira Knightly and Matthew McFadyen; the success of these stems from the respect paid towards Austen, which sadly The Lizzie Bennet Diaries lacks. Some things should be left untainted by modernity, and appreciated for what they are, not what they would be now.

    I suppose, at least, they haven’t added any zombies.

  5. I am not a fan of Pride and Prejudice, I have watched the film version starring Keira Knightley and found it tolerable. I can objectively understand the appeal of the novel and films, but the Lizzie Bennett diaries is a completely different matter. Imagine being physically restrained and having your brain painfully flooded with pure ‘liquid stupidity’, that’s how watching this felt for me. My main gripe with the Lizzie Bennett diaries is that I feel it is an unnecessary appropriation, one that removes all of the charm of the original. For me the era, fashion, language and customs are all absolutely integral to Pride and Prejudice. These elements are inseparable with the core identity of the original story. The Lizzie Bennett diaries is a narcissist modern retelling which is: excessively loud, over the top and in small enough segments to appeal to an audience with short attention spans. I would definitely agree that the Lizzie Bennett diaries is aimed at a younger audience. This retelling reflects a modern world in which things need to be: overly simplified, gaudy and quickly consumable. The Lizzie Bennett diaries feel as though it could be any self-obsessed vlogger relating her love story for the public, it is too meta and self-aware to feel like a ‘special love story’. One has to question how many liberties can be taken with the original source material before it becomes something else entirely.
    Also it has won 6 awards including an Emmy… really?!

  6. The Lizzie Bennett Diaries are a good modern adaptation of a classical text, which is useful for a younger audience who may be reading this book in comprehensive school, or at GCSE level. As Youtube – especially vlogging – is extremely popular with the younger audience, it does seem only fitting for Youtube to be used for educational purposes.

    Although it is also important to remember that these vlogs are designed to be watched alongside reading the novel and should not be a substitute for reading. Some of the of the characters in the book are not included in the vlogs, such as two of the Bennett sisters and also Lizzie’s parents, this does mean you do lose some of the key parts of the plot of the book. As long as vlogs don’t overpower books then I feel like they are a useful way to see other interpretations of classical texts.

  7. I have never enjoyed Jane Austen. There I admitted it. Pride and Prejudice will always revert me back to my English GCSE classroom where on rainy days we would watch the Colin Firth edition and everyone would swoon. I couldn’t relate. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries are a modern take on this visually engaging way of learning about the novel. It is incredible cliche’ but the vlog style of telling the story is relatable to a younger audience and if it helps them learn and explore literature in their own way then it is a good development. I also feel that it is a better use of teaching time, as instead of having to watch a film these short vlogs can be watched and discussed as part of the learning process.

  8. I can appreciate the light hearted nature of these videos attempting to make a classic story appropriate for the modern age. However, I just don’t think it works. It doesn’t give the same timeless effect the original story does yet would be a great educational comparison piece. If you were to watch these alongside learning the book in school then maybe it would give the modern audience a better understanding of how the story might look if written now. As an entertainment value, it just doesn’t work for me. Sometimes classics should be left to their original form!

  9. I understand why the videos are made and what the purpose is behind them, but I don’t personally enjoy them. I think it’s clever how they’re trying to make a modern twist on Jane Austen, but it sometimes comes across as a little corny and cheesy. I enjoy watching vlogs, and some of these vlogs do interest me partially, but I think that enough retakes and remakes have Jane Austen have already been made and adapted – maybe it’s time we left Jane Austen alone? I suppose it would help in a learning environment around younger students, but our age group is past the point of appreciating these videos.

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