Friday, October 7, 2011

Fiction, to Film, to Fantastic Music Friday: Bridget Jones's Diary

I couldn't do a Fiction, to Film, to Fantastic Music tribute without posting about a couple of books that 100% shaped a whole decade of my life.  During my 20's, I got through every birthday past 25 by reading Bridget Jones's Diary and then The Edge of Reasoning.  By the time I turned 31, I let it go (so yes--I'm in my 30's).  Although I'm not even really like Bridget, I so related to her thoughts and feelings, that she warmed my heart and made me feel like I had a comrade in being a singleton.  In short, I loved her. 

When I went off to grad school, I started dating someone pretty seriously, and Bridget went away.  Why did I need to read Bridget?  I had outgrown such chick-lit, fluffy, vulnerable nonsense.  I had a man.  Well, that's what I thought at the time.  In my last year of graduate school, my contemporary British fiction teacher had us read and discuss Bridget Jones's Diary, which horrified me.  I didn't want pseudo-pre-intellectuals (myself included), ruining a book that had comforted and soothed me for so many birthdays!  I waited for that fateful discussion day, waiting to hear multi-tattooed, uber intellectual dude to tear it apart, or classics guy to say how stupid and nonsensical it was.   Strangely, no one felt that way.  Wait.  They didn't want to tear it to shreds and say what "drivel" it was?  They didn't want to say how it dumbed down our society and leveled women to mere cultural punching bags in our patriarchal society?  No.  I was shocked.  Instead, we had this amazing conversation about the mirror that Fielding held up to us as a society.  We talked about how she showed us the very real pressures placed on women to get married and to be thin.  We talked about Bridget's ability to wade through very personal emotions that are obviously so universal to women (enough so to become a smash hit), and deal with her desires and fears.  Those books weren't about criticizing her desires, but about the self-deprecating ways she dealt with them.  It was a truly freeing time for me.  My favorite read was NOT discredited by my classmates, which shocked me.

Mark in his famous reindeer jumper.
Having said that, there is more to those books than a single woman desperate to get married.  Bridget Jones's Diary was originally a serial in The Independent and Daily Mirror in the UK, which was later published into her first novel.  Ironically enough, the story was also modeled after Jane Austen's most famous story of singleton anxiety and love, Pride and Prejudice.  The evident judgment on the part of Bridget and Mark Darcy mimic the original in a very funny, modern way, that is subtle and yet filled with irony in so many ways.  It's obvious too, that the book had Colin Firth in mind as Mark Darcy, which was why casting him in the film version was so genius.

There is so much more that can be said about these great books.  People often discredit them, but for being one of the hallmarks in chick lit and modernizations of a classic, Fielding managed to write a funny little novel with an awful lot of depth before anyone else had even dabbled in this kind of writing.  (Even when said humor came in the form of giant pants!)

How then can I not mention the music.  This is yet another soundtrack that I own and have listened to about a million times.  The music in the film ranged from the silly, "It's Raining Men" to the sad "All By Myself," with plenty of songs filled with romantic longing in between.  One of my favorites was the song "Out of Reach," which is included at a pretty dramatic moment in the movie when we believe that Bridget has lost someone she really had grown to love.  Here's a taste:

The fact is, this is one of those movies that just makes me smile.  I love Colin Firth, I love Hugh Grant, and I thought that Renee Zellweger did an amazing job in the first film.  If you've been a singleton past the age of 25, these books and movies address some of the funny, insecure moments we've all had.  If not, then you'll just have to trust us.  If you've really never seen it before, here's the official trailer:

Now excuse me while I pick up an old friend and tradition and go re-read Bridget Jones's Diary!

* Fiction, to Film, to Fantastic Music Friday is my own little weekly post. The premise is just to share my favorite books made into film, with amazing soundtracks to boot.  There might even be times where it's just a great film and soundtrack, or great book and film.  Either way, join in if you would like! 


  1. Haven't read the books, but I thought the movies were fun and cute.

  2. I love this movie! I guess it helps that I'm 30 and single but I never really thought of it that way I just like it. I need to read the book, though, I'm sure it would be just as great and probably better than the movie.

  3. I've only ever watched the movie. To me it was a little too modeled off of P&P, but I did like she adapted Darcy and Elizabeth's first meeting to Mark and Bridget's. A guy wearing a horrible jumper whom your mother practically throws you at would make me run in the opposite direction, too. :) I also thought Bridget was a little ott with her insecurities, but then I never felt bad about being over 25 (now 30) and single. All of my friends from high school were still single, too.

  4. A 3rd Bridget Jones film is purported to commence shooting in early 2012 and will star the same trio. A new and British Director is being sought now after the recent separation of initial Director Paul Feig from the project.

    I count the 1st film as a regular in my Christmas collection revisited each holiday!

    Austin, TX

  5. Fun feature! I may have to try it! :)