Yes. Really. No kidding.
This is a film that fuses two genres my daughter loves – Jane Austen romances and shock horror scary stories. In this world the Bennet girls are all rather handy with swords and lethal weapons as the black plague has unleashed a tidal wave of the undead. So will Lizzy B and Mr D still manage to get together, whilst doing battle with a myriad of rotting robots?
CAUTION – this clip contains a lot of gore not featured in the original love story.
This macabre tale does still follow the original rather faithfully, with the likes of polite Mr Bingley, smarmy Mr Collins and dastardly Mr Wickham showing up in fine style to woo the Bennet sisters, and all the while Mrs B is gloriously over the top as she attempts to marry off her less-than-genteel, gun-toting clan. Watching this it struck me that you have to really love a story to then do a good job of messing about with it. So although it might seem shocking I’m sure the writers of PP&Z have a lot of affection for the original. Jesus was always playing around with Old Testament tales, revising and retelling them in order to grab his listeners and help them understand the new way of life he was offering.
Abraham bantering with God (Genesis 18 v 22-33) became a powerless widow haggling with an unjust judge in Luke 18. Heartless Nabal (1 Samuel 25) refusing to share his wealth with David turned into a rich fool (Luke 12 v 13) who just kept on building bulging barns till the stress killed him. And the wise and foolish women from Proverbs 7 & 8 morphed into a couple of smart and silly builders constructing their lives on different foundations (Matthew 7 v 24). And Jesus would revisit the party-throwing wise woman again (in Proverbs 9) when retelling his story of a king inviting people to a sumptuous bash (Luke 14 v 16). Jesus took well known cultural stories and surprised the crowds with them, so they would discuss, question, understand and be drawn towards what he was offering them. Perhaps most famously the runaway boy came limping home in Luke 15, not filthy rich like Jacob in Genesis 33, but just filthy. And lost. And knowing how much he needed his welcoming, kind and generous father. Jesus didn’t just adapt these ancient tales as a gimmick, it was vital way of communicating the nature of his extraordinary heavenly father.
Back in the late ‘70s the Riding Lights Theatre Company came up with The Parable of the Good Punk Rocker. It was powerful stuff because back then punk was anarchic and fearful. And here were this bunch of Christians turning the punk into a rescuing hero. They took that old Samaritan and gave him ripped clothes and a spiky attitude and haircut. I wonder what stories Jesus might tell today? The parable of the lost car keys? A king sending out party invitations on Twitter and Instagram… to a zoom meeting for anyone who wanted to discover a new life? ‘This kingdom is like a YouTube clip,’ he might say, ‘once it is sown online viewers from all over the world come and find hope in its visuals and story.’