Thursday, October 6, 2022

Zombie Month Begins

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
You'd think it would be difficult to find a film to make the transition from our month of rather high-toned literary films to zombie films. A difficult, perhaps impossible task? But no. This film links the subjects perfectly.

When Mr. Bingley appears on screen with his two sisters (rather than one as in the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice), my wife wondered if this might be a more accurate version of the tale. 


Pride and Prejudice and Zombies takes more liberties with Jane Austen’s work than any of the other film versions.

Much is the same in all the adaptations of Pride and Prejudice (including this one, notwithstanding the zombies), They still all have the Bennet family, with five daughters wanting husbands. Every version has Mr. Darcy, the rich man who eventually ends up with daughter Elizabeth; and Mr. Bingley, who ends up with Jane. There’s always a man named Wickham (my mom’s maiden name) who’s really awful (sorry, Mom) and a man named Collins. In most (but not all) versions of the story, he’s the Rev. Mr. Collins. In every version, he wants to get married and he’s more than a bit of a twit.

In Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Collins (Matt Smith) is a clergyman (which is why we can include the film in this blog), but he is unique in some ways. Though the Bennet sisters are well-trained warriors prepared to battle zombies, Parson Collins wants his wife to be a homemaker and expects Elizabeth (Lily James) to give up her sword for an apron.

This really didn’t make sense to me in some ways. In all versions of Pride and Prejudice, Collins is devoted to his patron, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, played by Lena Headey in this version as the greatest swordswoman in England and a prolific zombie killer. Why would he want his wife to be so different from his patron? And if you are surrounded by deadly zombies, wouldn’t you want help dealing with them?

We don't get to see Parson Collins ministering in any way until the end of the film when he performs a wedding competently enough.

But there is a church in this version of Pride and Prejudice that's not in any other version of the tale. St. Lazarus is a church attended by zombies who eat pig brains in order to keep from eating people. The sermon is, not surprisingly, from John 11 where Jesus raises His friend, Lazarus, from the dead. I kind of wonder if that's the text every week. Maybe the parishioners hear, every week, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.’”

In ministry, it's a real challenge to know whether there are people some churches are unable to serve. Some churches won’t, for instance, allow convicted sex offenders to attend their church in order to protect other people in the congregation. Should churches have policies against sex offenders? Or zombies? (To be fair, I’ve never encountered a church with a non-zombie policy.)

Elizabeth visits this church and comes out safely enough. But these zombies eventually turn against people. In the world of this film, the Anti-Christ will lead the zombies against the humans, and Wickham is the Anti-Christ. Wickham thought of going into ministry, but the anti-christ business is a ... different way to go.

I’m going to give Parson Collins two steeples, but sadly, St. Lazarus only gets one.

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