By Lauren Linhard – firstname.lastname@example.org
The classic story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy has been remade multiple times for the screen, but the February 5 release of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” was the first time the Bennet sisters took on the undead in addition to finding love.
While the zombie plot line fills all cravings for disgusting visuals and sudden bloody attacks, the combating duality of accomplished femininity vs. empowered woman is still a consistent theme.
The moment when Darcy realizes his heart may no longer be his own, while watching Elizabeth kick some serious zombie ass in a full ballgown, is accompanied by his admiration of her arms – full of muscle, but still feminine (no lie, he said that).
This scene sets the tone for the rest of the movie, with each woman struggling between embracing her inner zombie killer and the flighty feminine personality expected by society at that time.
Elizabeth (Lily James) goes so far as to point blank say to Mr. Darcy and the Bingley crew that it is impossible for a woman to be both accomplished and battle ready. It’s a pity that a film marketed around the idea of strong female warriors can’t overcome the ingrained idea that women have to choose.
But this theme can be found in every version of “Pride and Prejudice,” not just the ones with zombies, and pretty much any film focused on a heroine plot line – Mystique in “X-Men: First Class;” Jo March in “Little Women;” Mia Thermopolis in “The Princess Diaries;” Marilyn Monroe in “My Week with Marilyn;” and the entire team in “A League of Their Own.” Movies have been trying to make women choose between their desires and what’s expected of them for years.
The good news? More movies have started featuring female characters who embrace that inner warrior, intellectual, career woman, sexual, etc. The bad news – movies are still direct reflections of real-world values and how society views women, and we’re still a long way from “having it all.”