Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Novel and the Movie: Bridget Jones' Diary

So, remember that one time back in the Spring of 2013, when I both finished Dashiell Hammet's The Maltese Falcon and viewed it's movie counterpart in a matter of days, in order to write a College Fashion post by the end of the week?

Well, if you do recall - and if you do, good on you, because I sure as hell didn't - I ended up making it into its very own blog post, comparing and contrasting to find which of the two formats told my favorite version of the story. (Spoiler alert: The book won!)

Recently, I found myself tearing through Helen Fielding's chick lit classic Bridget Jones' Diary, and as soon as I swiped through to the last page on my Kindle, I knew I wanted to watch the movie as quickly as possible. Thankfully, it was on Netflix, and after I was done cozying up with my computer and a bag of chocolate covered potato hips, I was left with burning abs from laughing and plenty of crumbs to sweep off my comforter.

Which left me to ponder: which version of the story - the novel or the movie - really brought Bridget Jones to life?

The Novel

Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones' Diary has rightfully earned a reputation for being a relatable, humorous take on Singledom, hilariously depicting the London city life of a 30-something woman who just can't seem to get her life together. While Bridget attempts to parlay suggestive flirting with her boss into a real relationship, and avoids the weirdos her mom keeps attempting to throw into her path, she learns a lot about life, love, and losing weight... but not enough to prevent her from making the same mistakes time and again. 

I have a note in my book notebook, at the five page mark, that says "Already the most relatable mother-daughter relationship I've ever read." A couple of pages later, and I don't want to put this book until I'm finished with it. 

It's completely insane how the novel manages to be both so relatable - being that I, outwardsly, am almost nothing like our heroine, but can completely identify with about a million of her features - as well as balls-to-the-wall unexpected. The humor isn't rational or realistic, and yet, readers are left feeling like Bridget might not be just like them, but definitely like that one friend of theirs.

I couldn't help but message my sister some of the funny parts as I was reading through them, including one quote I almost want to get framed so I can look at it every day:

"It struck me as pretty ridiculous to be called Mr. Darcy and to stand on your own looking snooty at a party. It's like being called Heathcliff and insisting on spending the entire evening in the garden, shouting 'Cathy!' and banging your head against a tree." 

You see what I mean? Beautiful. 

Another surprise feature that I loved about the novel, was the formatting: it's told in epistolary style, which makes it more relatable and personable as well, especially due to the fact that it's exact same way I used to format my own journals! 


  • God, this guy is such a jerk. No wonder Hugh Grant plays him in the movie. 
  • This seems like an awful lot of cigarettes. Did people still smoke in the '90s? 
  • Adult life sounds terrible. 
  • There is a lot of food mentioned in this book, and almost none of it sounds very good.
  • "'I know we're all psychotic, single and completely dysfunctional and it's all done over the phone,' Tom slurred sentimentally, 'but its a bit like a family, isn't it?'" (AKA, the book in a sentence.) 

The Movie

The movie maintained a pretty solid preservation of the humor of the novel, especially in repeating key pieces of dialogue and recognizable "Bridget-isms;" however, I did notice some of it was rearranged in order to better accompany the movie's flow. 

The movie also played up the Pride and Prejudice undertones more than the book did, which I loved. Even the "it is a truth universally acknowledged" line was given more of a prominence (then again, that might have just been because it was so recognizable). 

Those weren't the only changes made for the movie: I feel like all of the vibrant characterizations and zany antics were smoothed out and toned down for its big screen depiction. Maybe it was just too dramatic, or the dynamics of the book wouldn't have been as funny translated into visual humor, but the book's soap operatic nature was one of the things I loved most about it. It definitely went beyond moving Mark Darcy's character more into the foreground... I especially missed the obtuse insanity that was Bridget's clueless, dramatic mother.

In terms of being used to play up the attitude of the film, the soundtrack was completely on point. And I think every film can benefit from a man-fight in an Italian restaurant set to "It's Raining Men."


  • So far, so good, so late '90s...
  • How the hell are Colin Firth and Hugh Grant still so attractive? 
  • OHMYGOD Moaning Myrtle! 
  • Hugh Grant has only one personality setting and it is "charming a**hole" 
  • Crazy rom com move: the zany accidental hairdo 

The Verdict 

My winner for this one, has got to be the Novel! (Wow, two for two! Am I biased?)

I just think that the humor present in the book was a lot more over-the-top than the movie, and exactly what I was looking for in this kind of reading material. 

While Zelwegger might have been nominated for an Oscar for her performance as Bridget, I thought the novel really helped you get in the mindset better when you were literally reading her diary, and I liked some of the main characterizations more when they were described on her own terms. 

There was quite a lot of humor and giggly, dizziness that carried through them both, though: the hilarity, the happy ending, and everything in between. And regardless of format, I hate the "Tarts and Vicars" scene, book or movie, but at least it can confirm the fact that a Playboy bunny outfit appears to be extremely effective in identifying times of heartbreak and emotional resurgence, in terms of both Bridget and Elle Woods. 

Which would you have chosen? What should I read and watch next? Let me know, in the comments below! 

1 comment:

  1. I haven't (yet) read the book, but I love the film so much, so I'm so glad to read your thoughts on the two! Definitely I need to read the book soon, especially since there are more laughs. I'm also interested in comparing the two - for some reason I always thought the movie went along with the book pretty closely. I loved reading this post, and really enjoyed how you formatted it - the "notes from the field" section is such a great idea!