Though the title may not sound like anything Jane Austen envisioned for the Bennet family or even Mr. Darcy, we think Austen would be thrilled to see her female characters turned protectors and women warriors. Here are nine ways Pride and Prejudice and Zombies improves on Austen’s classic romance novel.
1. The Bennet sisters trained for battle, not a knitting circle
Just like in the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, the Bennet girls are trained in the finer things like embroidery, piano and dance. But in this version of the story, where the threat of a zombie attack is around every corner, the girls are also trained in the art of battle. Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James, Cinderella), can wield a knife for a lot more than slicing a lamb shank.
2. The sisters learned Shaolin Kung Fu in China
Though the Darcys and other wealthier families of the Regency period sent their daughters to learn combat in Japan, the Bennets could only afford to send their daughters to China, where meals and accommodations were less expensive. But not to worry — while there, the sisters studied the ancient form of martial arts called Shaolin Kung Fu, learned sword fighting and how to fire a pistol.
3. A new look at class oppression and British imperialism
One thing we love about the novel is how well it shows a highly stratified society burdened with prejudice and pride. But in the film, a new consequence is shown when you add imperialism into the mix. Britain’s great explorers and businessmen have gone out to conquer other lands but have brought back this plague of zombies as a result. Zombies become the symbol of the lower class, who resort to eating each other’s brains to survive in this world ruled by the wealthy.
4. Elizabeth is able to express her true feelings
Women of that period were taught not to express their feelings and desires and to instead repress them. Here, armed with a sword and an expert knowledge of combat, Elizabeth has no reason to act like a shrinking violet. Finally, she is empowered, and it’s exciting to watch her speak her mind and hold her own with the men.
5. The reinvention of Lady Catherine de Bourgh
Here, Lady Catherine de Bourgh is delightfully played by Lena Headey (Game of Thrones), with an eye patch to convey her tough-as-nails image. In the book, it’s impressive that Elizabeth is eventually able to win Lady de Bourgh’s approval, but in this movie, it is an enormous feat, considering de Bourgh’s robust constitution.
6. The real reasons Mr. Darcy has a falling out with Mr. Wickham
Though we don’t want to give too much away, it’s Mr. Wickham (Boardwalk Empire‘s Jack Huston) who has a secret connection to the zombie apocalypse, and that’s why Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) is angry with him.
7. Dr. Who‘s Matt Smith is hilarious as Parson Collins
With his goofy expression and superb comedic timing, Smith nearly steals the entire movie. Typically, an audience would be annoyed by Collins’ doltish tactics, but here, we can’t wait for him to get back on screen.
8. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies crosses two genres
Everyone loves a good romantic film, and if you can add zombies and horror into the mix, why not? This film is successful at both, fulfilling both the romantic and horror genres in exciting new ways we’ve never seen before.
9. It sets up a prequel: Elizabeth Bennet in China
Though we don’t get to see any of Elizabeth’s training in China, we sure would like to! How fun would it be to see the beautiful and clever Bennet sisters making their way through China and learning the ancient art of combat? We can only dream about a film possibly called Pride and Prejudice and Pandas.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies opens Feb. 5.