I find watching modern movies based on classic literature to be an excellent way to get into reading the books. Rather than seeing the movie as a reward for reading the book, I find it easier to watch the movie first. A really great movie will leave you wanting more, and reading the book is the perfect way to follow up. The movie Vanity Fair from 2004, is based on the book by the same name.
Most of the time, watching a book based on classic literature is seen as a reward for reading the book. But I like to turn that on its head! I find it’s much easier to follow more complex reading when I have some idea of what’s going on. Try it! Watch the movie first, then read the book.
Vanity Fair (2004) based on the classic book of the same name
The SAT in the past has focused on literature from around the time of the founding of the United States. Based on William Makepeace Thackeray’s 1847 novel of the same name, Vanity Fair (2004) is a little far from the turn of the century. But the novel is classic enough to give it a chance. Plus, Reese Witherspoon is one of my favorite actresses.
The sets range from vibrant and glittering to the macabre of the battlefield and the pestilence and grunge of the nineteenth century’s city streets. The story itself is also sweeping, and perhaps that is reason enough to forgive the broad strokes and jumps in the narrative. The genteel scenes share the dances and private vocal performances of the Jane Austen movie. But the movie, does not the Jane Austen happy endings.
In addition to incorporating society’s rules in its plot, Vanity Fair does touch a bit on the battle of Waterloo and the status the British Empire. So it’s great for learning a big of history and historical society. However, the movie itself doesn’t have advanced vocabulary or sentence structure. So other than giving you a good starting understanding of the plot, it doesn’t give you practice understanding the more complicated sentence structure of the historical time.
A bittersweet ending saves it as a possibility of a movie that could inspire the reading of the original novel. But, it’s like that anyone hoping for a happier ending with the reading will be disappointed. Apparently Julian Fellowes, who helped with the movie script, was responsible for a more likeable main character.
So that means this movie is pretty much out for my girls. They much prefer happier endings. But, I understand – or know! I can’t say I understand – that some people prefer endings that they call more “true to life” or “realistic” that aren’t happy. So, if you’re one of those people, give reading the book Vanity Fair a try! The glittering sets are amazing and well worth the time.Other options for watching Vanity Fair instead of reading the book
Mini-series, currently available on Amazon Prime, may give a more complete storyline, without the jumps in the shorter movie.
Our favorite modern movies based on Classic Literature
If you’re looking for a happier ending, see the list of our favorite modern movies based on classic literature.