One night while I was in Belgium, Matt, Leo and I went to see the most recent adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice at the Torsion d'Or (aka the Golden Fleece) in downtown Brussels. The novel is, of course, one of the greatest masterpieces ever composed in any language, and my favorite novel. I've read it at least a dozen times, taught it several times, hope to teach it again. (One of the best courses I ever taught was "All of Austen" at the U of Iowa--it was a blast.)
This adaptation is also titled Pride and Prejudice, but I think this is inappropriate. It should be called prd & prjdc, because it is an abbreviated, overly simplified affair, relying on the hard consonants of major plot points while forfeiting the vowel-like softness of nuance and complexity provided by character development, human growth and discovery.
There are reasons why Austen's novel remains a best seller almost 200 years after it was originally published, why it is read and understood easily even by modern high school students (I first read and loved it as a 15-year-old junior), why it is so often adapted into contemporary works. Bridget Jones's Diary, after all, is based on Pride and Prejudice, and BJD as novel, at least, does a good job of retaining major elements of the plot (not so much in the movie). Then there was Bride and Prejudice, a contemporary retelling set in India, LA and London. It includes a few great Bollywood dance numbers, and is loads of fun--as well as fairly loyal to the plot.
One reason for Jane's continued popularity is the fact that her language has aged very well. Austen's prose, while intellectually and syntactically complex, precise in vocabulary and laden with humor both understated and overt, is spare on similes and metaphors. S&M are, of course, evocative, and make for richness and beauty, but they only work if you understand both the literal and connotative meanings of the objects on each side of the comparison--otherwise, they inhibit rather than augment one's understanding of what's being evoked--"ox-eyed Athena" springs to mind.
But of course the main reason Austen remains popular is that she's a fabulous storyteller with keen insight into human psychology. And that keen insight is precisely what this new adaptation lacks.