If Pride & Prejudice has bewitched you, body and soul, then it's likely you've already seen every screen adaptation of Austen's classic novel. That's good, because two of the most popular iterations—the 2005 film starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen and 1995's version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle—are currently being streamed on BritBox, a subscription service founded by BBC Studios and ITV.
If you don't feel like paying for a rental, or just want to try something new, never fear! These movies like Pride & Prejudice will fulfill your yearning for more stories full of history, romance, and women who aren't afraid to speak their minds.
There are no direct Jane Austen adaptations on this list—as an Austen acolyte, you've likely seen most of those already. But these period dramas are still sure to excite your inner Bennet.
The 2011 adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre is sure to fulfill your longing for romance and drama. Jane, a plain and poor governess (played by the not-at-all plain Mia Wasikowska), accepts a position teaching at Thornfield Hall, where she soon has a strange encounter with the master of the house, Mr. Rochester (Michael Fassbender).
Like most adaptations of Brontë’s work, the cast is much more pleasing to look at than the source writing would call for. (See: “Am I hideous, Jane?” “Very sir; you always were, you know.”)
Although Rochester's brusqueness and surliness initially put Jane off, the two soon develop an amiable companionship. But Mr. Rochester's rumored impending marriage, and the strange, macabre events transpiring at Thornfield Hall, may ultimately leave Jane brokenhearted.
Becoming Jane is a lush, romantic film starring Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen. It's loosely based on the real-life romance between Jane and Irish lawyer Thomas Lefroy (James McAvoy). Although Thomas offends Jane when they first meet, he quickly wins her affection.
Whereas her family expresses dismay at Jane's literary aspirations, Thomas supports her career goals. The two quickly fall in love, but his familial obligations may stand in the way of their happiness.
Based on the novel of the same name by Shannon Hale, Austenland stars Keri Russell as Jane, an American Austen fan who travels to a fictional Jane Austen-themed resort in England to get over a heartbreak. Austenland is an immersive attraction featuring staged romantic intrigue (no touching allowed!) and Regency-era past times like hunting, needlepoint, and balls.
But Jane soon realizes that the Regency era, and Austenland itself, is not all that it's cracked up to be.
A Room With a View
This romantic, sensuous love story is bursting with passion and biting social commentary that Austen lovers are sure to appreciate. Based on the classic , A Room With a View stars Helena Bonham-Carter as Lucy Honeychurch, a naive English girl visiting Italy for the first time under the protective eye of her much older cousin Charlotte (Maggie Smith).
While there, she meets and falls for George (Julian Sands), whose progressiveness and openness contrast the way she was raised. When George makes an advance on her, Lucy is conflicted—will she abandon the tight-laced ideals she was raised under, and follow her heart with a man unlike any she's met before?
The Jane Austen Book Club
Based on the novel of the same name by Karen Joy Fowler, The Jane Austen Book Club follows a group of Austen fans who agree to meet once a month to discuss one of her novels.
Founded by 60-something Bernadette (Kathy Baker), who longs to help the younger members find romantic happiness, the club members soon find that life imitates art as their own love lives come to reflect many of the relationships in Austen's work.
Belle director Amma Asante described the 2013 film as a combination of "the Jane Austen elements we know so well–the marriage market, the lives of girls growing up into society ladies, the romantic longing–combined with a story about the end of slavery." This emotional, sumptuous movie is based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the daughter of an African woman and a Royal Navy captain. The real-life Dido was raised by her great-uncle, a lord chief justice who presided over landmark slavery cases.
The film follows Dido and her cousin Elizabeth's search for marriage, using their courtships as a means to explore the politics and racism of the era. As Dido and Elizabeth sit for a portrait that Dido worries won't represent them as equals, Dido's great-uncle rules on a historic court case that may pave the road to abolition–and Dido finds herself falling for John Davinier (Sam Reid), her great-uncle's apprentice.
If you love Jane Austen for her fiercely feminist characters, then you’ll also love the March sisters. Loosely based on the life of Louisa May Alcott and her sisters, the story follows beautiful Meg, headstrong Jo, artistic, impulsive Amy and sweet Beth as they all grow up in the years after the Civil War.
The original book features love, heartbreak, adventure, and tragedy—it’s a truly timeless story, and it’s no wonder that it’s been adapted so often.
If you appreciate the aesthetic of historical romances like Pride & Prejudice, you'll love the work that was put into 2020's Emma. Despite a relatively meager $10 million budget, the film received Academy Award nominations for Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. The film, which stars Anya Taylor-Joy in the titular role, is based on another of Jane Austen's books by the same name. It follows Emma Woodhouse in her quest to find a suitable match after the departure of her governess and charmed critics, who called it "an amusing, pastel-coloured movie which fully embraces the rhythm of Austen's dialogue."
Starring Keira Knightly, Jude Law and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, this 2012 romantic period drama is based on the Russian novel of the same name. It’s a bit of a departure from most of the films on this list—but if you love movies like for the costumes and the sweeping love stories, then you’ll likely enjoy this one, too.
Knightly plays Anna, who is traveling with her husband Karenin (Law) to visit her sister-in-law, Princess Darya. They are looking to convince Darya to not leave her husband, Anna’s brother, who has been cheating on her. Ironically, this is where Anna meets Vronksy (Taylor-Johnson), and the two are drawn to one another.
They begin to have an affair—and things truly spiral out from there.
The Age of Innocence
If you're one who appreciates Academy Award-level acting like Colin Firth, look no further than The Age of Innocence. The Martin Scorsese film based on Edith Wharton's 1920 novel features a star-studded cast that includes Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Winona Ryder. The story takes place in 1870s New York and details the ill-fated and unwitting romance between lawyer Newland Archer (Day-Lewis) and heiress Ellen Olenska (Pfeiffer). The story has a more somber feeling to it than Pride & Prejudice, but the film offers the same sort of insightful social commentary that Pride & Prejudice did, which is one reason that Roger Ebert called it "one of Scorsese's greatest films."
Featured still from "Jane Eyre" via Focus Features
This article was originally published on September 11th, 2017.