I'd like to proclaim my devotion to three novel adaptations from the 1800s.
Many years ago, prompted mostly by reading Bridget Jones's Diary for the first time, I discovered Pride and Prejudice, the BBC version, with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle (I did read the novel in college).
Though everyone was agog when the Keira Knightly movie came out a year or so ago, this is far and away my favorite adaptation. I can recite almost every line, and yet I still hold my breath at the end to see if I'll get my happy ending or not.
Darcy is such a lovely character (and Colin Firth...*sigh*), and Elizabeth Bennett is truly a heroine to root for. The costumes, the countryside, and the story itself sweep me away every time. Love, love, love…
Sense and Sensibility (originally released on the big screen rather than on BBC), with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet, is just as delightful. The characters, the setting, and most importantly – the part of Colonel Brandon played by Alan Rickman – make this a winning combination.
This is another where I hold my breath (twice!) to get my happy ending, and I adore the interplay between the characters and the subtle romance of it all. Hugh Grant is actually quite good in period costume, but it's all Colonel Brandon for me as a hero.
If you haven't seen this one, you must. Lovely.
North and South was a new one to me – I was not familiar with Elizabeth Gaskell's novel, but was urged to watch this by my colleague Gail. Oh my.
Though much darker (both in tone and in filming) than the above two, this is another great adaptation (though it takes place in the 1850s, as opposed to the Regency era of the Austen novels above). I fell absolutely in love with John Thorton (played by the beautifully broody Richard Armitage) and also with the heroine Margaret. She's a character who doesn't conform to convention, and who speaks her mind, sometimes to her detriment. Though there is only one kiss in the entire four hour film, it's one of the most romantic scenes I can remember in recent history.
These three films are like comfort food to me – when I'm low or tired, or just missing England, I pop one in, make a cup of tea and wrap up and lose myself in the past. These stories NEVER get old...