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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

 Kung Fu Panda 3 | Official Trailer #2  (DreamWorksTV via Youtube)Love is in the air and zombies are in the theaters . . . again. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a contemporary remake of the Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice, just in time for Valentine's Day. Because nothing says compromise like a classic love story coupled with zombies.

The classic begins with a line that both compels the reader forward and creates a hunger in the reader for more:  

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

The remake begins like a broken washing machine, it sounds the same but you know something is off and you hope nothing is ruined . . . too bad.

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains."

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies makes clearly visible that which is palpably invisible in the classic Pride and Prejudice. In the classic, Mrs. Bennet wants what is best for her daughters, that being thriving in life with a companion. By staying single, they will live but they will not thrive. In the movie, the threat of singleness and loneliness is personified in zombies, seeking to rob the sisters and their surrounding community of life.

The sisters have to woo suitors and ward off zombies. The single and ready to mingle suitors are still the same: the perceived prideful Mr. Darcy, the enigmatic Mr. Bingley, the smooth talking Mr. Wickham, and the preacher man Mr. Collins. They are fighting for affections and hearts, as well as against the zombies in the community.

But the men are not the only active agents in the movie. The Bennet sisters woo would be suitors, and also have the skills to ward off zombies. As Mr. Darcy notes while Liz is slaying the undead zombies, "her arms are surprisingly muscular, but not unfeminine."

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies follows the classic book closely, but ironically seeks to bring to life the old book with dead characters. And much like the old book powerfully spoke against the systems and pre-conceived notions of the day, the movie does the same. While the book embodied some of the rebellious zeitgeist of the day, the movie follow suit.

Jane Austen was a revolutionary writer, understanding the power of words against the power structures of the day. Her anti-establishment ideas are subliminally littered throughout Pride and Prejudice. Her strong female characters battle against the notions of a weak and helpless woman of the day. Yes, the women are seeking after a man to provide and protect, but they are doing so in a way that demonstrates their strength and independent spirit.

In Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, we see the spirit of the day demonstrated in the reconstruction of the past in order to unmask the power levers. Fredrich Nietzsche coined the will to power, finding that individuals are motivated by power, the exercise of it, and accumulation of more. His disciple, Michal Foucault, built upon this idea with his understanding of the archeology of knowledge. This is where you reconstruct the past in order to unmask the power drivers, reinterpreting the past as you would wish in the present.

Austen fought against the power structures of her day. Mr. Darcy had to wage war with his own pride. Liz had to battle against her prejudices of Mr. Darcy. And Pride and Prejudice and Zombies seeks to bring peace in the present by offering an entertaining reinterpretation of the past.

In each instance, there was fight for love. This love was valuable enough to endure conflict and potential pain. This love was worth temporary discomfort in order to experience long-term peace. Because after all, we fight for that which we love.

Fighting is necessary at times, but it always had a greater end—that being love.

In the biblical narrative, we find instances in which fighting is necessary but always towards a greater end—namely, God.  

God, in his abounding love, humbled himself more than Mr. Darcy by taking on human flesh. Out of love, God fought against the powers and principalities in order to rescue that which was lost. And in the supreme act of demonstrating his love, God did not exercise prejudice, but rather said forgive them for they know not what they do.

Unlike the movie, God did not try to reconstruct the past, but rather died in order to forgive the past (and present and future). God fought for those whom he loved, and that fight still continues today.

This Valentine's Day, many will reflect upon the instances in which they fought for love. And on this day, you will celebrate that love with your beloved. And remember, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies will be playing in the theatres. But this movie may not be worth fighting for or over.

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