It’s been in the process of being adapted for so damn long that it was starting to feel like literary horror mash up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was never actually going to materialize. I know there’s been news and casting and reports of all varieties, but still, it just felt kind of out there in a vague way. But now, today, there’s honest to god photographic evidence that this is a real movie that’s going to happen.
This first photo from the Jane Austen adaptations (maybe augmented Jane Austen adaptation is a more accurate description) comes from EW, and shows off the core cast of the film. You’ve get a look at a quintet composed of Elizabeth (Lily James), Lydia (Ellie Bamber), Mary (Millie Brady), Jane (Bella Heathcote), and Kitty (Suki Waterhouse).
Given that this is a period piece, the trusses, intricate wardrobe, and bonnets are not at all surprising, but juxtaposed against this proper English countryside ensemble, you don’t always expect to see swords. But in their defense, there weren’t really undead corpses wandering the countryside, so you have to adapt as the conditions change. Though the titular zombies aren’t anywhere to be seen here, their presence does complicate an already tricky courtship process. It’s difficult enough when the two parties come from different economic classes and social strata, but when the dead have been walking the Earth for 70s years, that’s a whole other level of trouble.
Rest assured that there will be a great deal more ass kicking in this version than Austen’s novel, which first appeared in 1813 and contained almost no ass kicking at all. Still, James sees a bit of fight in her character, even in the source material. She says, “Even in the original story, Elizabeth’s a fighter and beyond her contemporaries in her ambitions and her ideas of women. She’s a badass warrior. She’s a ninja.”
Her ideas on gender roles and equality are definitely more modern than most people in her day, that much is certainly true. She’s no dainty, wilting flower either. Still, I don’t recall the ninja part from the book, or really anything that would even make me describe her metaphorically as such. Admittedly, it has between 15 and 20 years since I read the book, so it’s possible something slipped from my memory, and however she finds inspiration for her character, more power to her.
Burr Steers directs the picture, picking up from David O. Russell, who wrote a draft and was attached to take the helm at one point. Steers rewrote the script, and as he said, “The first thing I did was reinsert all the Pride and Prejudice beats,” which included filling out the parts of Darcy (Sam Riley) and Wickhan (Jack Huston).