Do you love films based on Jane Austen’s work or life, well, then you’ll love our theme this month. Grab your popcorn and a soda! It’s time for Movies in May!
One thing that bothers me about the movie versions of Jane Austen is that they generally make the villains rather too handsome. Think Dan Stevens as Willoughby, or Rupert Friend as Wickham. With such eye candy, no wonder our dear hero is rather eclipsed at times!
Of course, this helps us understand why the heroines get taken in so easily by them, but it also makes it harder for us not to be drawn to them as well. In Pride and Prejudice, the sense of competition between Darcy and Wickham is not always obvious, but as on-screen presences, Wickham often provides a very strong contrast to Darcy. If you think about it, there’s a certain level at which Lizzy is much more like her sisters than you would think. She, like them, is enamored of an officer and is taken in by his good looks and charm. I’m not going to talk about Wickham in the canon Pride & Prejudice adaptations, but I think it’s interesting to
look at how he’s been adapted to other Pride & Prejudice spin-offs. It’s fascinating to see how different films tend to emphasize different ways in which Wickham is able to hoodwink young ladies.
In Lost in Austen, for example,Wickham is able to determine the weaknesses of others and use them to his advantage.
In Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Wickham appears to be almost a Colonel Fitzwilliam.
In Bridget Jones’ Diary, Cleaver, Wickham’s equivalent, is as sleazy as you can imagine, but with charm and good looks oozing from his very pores, Bridget has a difficult time choosing between him and Mark Darcy. [Warning: use of swearing]
What do you think? Is Wickham just the quintessential schmoozer or does he have redeeming characteristics as well? Do these transformations of his character reflect how JA would have seen Wickham, or are they our modern interpretations of what a villain looks like?