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Persuasion as Rom-Com Set in Modern Day Manhattan and Other Movie Ideas For Classic Novels

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Why a modern update of Jane Austen’s final novel should be set around a frozen yogurt stand in Central Park, and more ideas that’ll 100% guarantee us a screenwriting job in Hollywood….

Call me unoriginal, but who doesn’t like a good remake? These days it seems like every new film release is based on a book, a play, a comic or a television series, and yet as an audience it seems we can’t get enough of these modern adaptations.

From Baz Lurman’s Mafia-esque interpretation of Romeo and Juliet to Jane Austen’s Emma becoming Californian bimbo Cher Howitz in Clueless, some of Britain’s most well respected authors and their works have inspired adaptations that they could never have imagined in their day.

On the site we’ve examined the eye-popping number of Pride and Prejudice adaptations, and also mooted that The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is the best modern adaptation of the lot.

Here, though, we’re going to spread our wings a little wider and look at how some other classics might look if they were given the adaptation treatment. Hey Hollywood, are you reading? Just get in touch at the usual email address when you’ve decided which one you’d like to film first.

Persuasion – Jane Austen

What with it being the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice this week, I thought it only fitting to kick off with Austen’s Persuasion. Finished just before she died in 1817, Persuasion tells the story of Anne Elliot, who, after a broken engagement, is on her way to spinsterhood at 27 when her ex-fiancé renters her life.

The underappreciated heroine of the story was unique as she was the first female protagonist that was over the hill, at least she would have been considered so in Austen’s day. In this day and age Anne would most likely be a high powered career woman who froze her eggs back in 2002, when she was too busy for a relationship and felt she should put her career first.

A rom-com waiting to happen, Anne’s character would meet an old flame at a frozen yogurt stand in Central Park and spend the next 90 minutes skirting around the fact that they’re still madly in love with one another. Clue montages of sulking, wistful staring out of the window and walking in the rain.

Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

Swift’s satirical parody of ‘travellers tales’ sees Lemuel Gulliver travel to Liliput where he meets the ‘Big-Endians’ and the ‘Little-Endians’, two tribes fighting over the correct way to crack open a boiled egg.

Their stubborn and nonsensical notions on this breakfast staple have divided a country, and while it’s said that Swift was referencing religion with this section of the book, it could easily be applied to political parties today.

If adapted today, the fight wouldn’t be over such a trivial matter, oh no. Instead it would be an art house film that documents the war over ‘pasty tax’ – a true divider among men – and the politicians who proposed and opposed it.

On one side of the Cornish delicacy debate are the plump, pasty-faced Conservatives and on the other side, fighting for the working man’s lunch everywhere, the malnourished underdog Labour party, lead by Wallace of Wallace & Gromit fame. What? Ed Miliband was unavailable…

Treasure Island – Robbie Louis Stevenson

X marks the spot in this swashbuckling tale of pirates, plunder and peril in the Scottish author’s novel that follows young Jim on a voyage to find hidden treasures.

The piracy in the late 1800s novel relates to swashbuckling sea pirates and monetary treasure, but for a modern day adaptation, the more relevant topic of internet piracy could be covered in a 12A action flick.

Imagine Jim as a poor student, weeks away from his next loan instalment and aching to get his hands on the new Alt-J album. He’s heard the tales of Napster, Rapid Share and the aptly named The Pirate Bay and curiosity gets the better of him, so he logs on and hits ‘download’. But all is not what he thought it would be – he’s accidentally downloaded X Factor rejects, Union J, instead.

All of a sudden Virgin Media cronies, headed up by everyone’s favourite villain, Alan Rickman, are combing his halls of residence, looking for the miscreant. Will they find Jim before the completion bar hits 100%, will Bruce Willis pop up unexpectedly, a la Ben Gunn, to save the day? Tune in to find out…

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Brontë

Jane is a young, independent female with a strong moral core. Though well educated she is poor and faces struggles throughout her life, most notably her romance with the older Mr Rochester, a wealthy, brusque and moody chap with a penchant for hiding his exes in the attic.

At the time of publication, the novel was risqué in featuring a romance between social opposites (in age, wealth and status) but today marrying an older man is hardly that shocking. Except for when Anna Nicole Smith did it. That was not good.

So, how to give this plucky governess a serious revamp? Make her a law enforcer, of course. Playing on the gothic elements of the story, Jane’s story could be played out as a thriller set in a corrupt police force. Her guts and conviction have held her back in a place where bribery and above-suspicion criminals rule, but so long as she doesn’t get distracted by that mysterious, older detective, her wit and intelligence could save the day…

What classic story would you like to see adapted for modern day cinema? Do share your thoughts in the comments below.

Read more articles in our week-long Pride and Prejudice 200th anniversary series.

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