Monday, January 28, 2008

Mansfield Park on PBS

If by chance you missed it last night, never fear...I'll send you my copy. All I could think of by the end of the movie was...STOP THE RIDE!!! I WANT TO GET OFF!!!

A quick search informs me that I have never seen any other production done by director Ian MacDonald or director of photography Nick Dance and that is a good thing considering it took a while for the merry go round to stop in my brain after watching this one. At times the camera looked like it was being carried on the burly shoulder of someone who was clearly walking in high heels for the first time in his life!

I am sorry to be so harsh, but I was really looking forward to enjoying this movie adapted from a novel that I knew nothing about. That doesn't happen very often for me. Usually it is the other way around and no matter how good the movie adaption is, it's always going to be inferior to the book even if only slightly. So imagine my disappointment when half way through this production I hit the pause button to switch the laundry, clean the sink and tidy up my desk. Sigh.

Before I ruffle any more Janeite feathers, let me just say that I enjoyed the story and look forward to reading the novel to find out more about those intimate details that intrigued me and I thought Jemma Redgrave as Lady Bertram shined as the most captivating star in the cast. I was delighted every time the camera stumbled (and I do mean stumbled!) towards her.

I didn't like the character of Mrs. Norris (as I suspect I wasn't supposed to) and did wonder for a bit if the book would prove her to be more feline like her namesake. The actress played her as almost "breathy" in some scenes instead of like the tigress I suspect she is.

The other disappointment came in form of costume and hair choices. Billie Piper's (Fanny) hair was such a mess it covered her eyes and just about every other part of her face except her mouth which happened to be her least attractive feature. Everyone else seemed to have tamed tresses which made Fanny look like a ragamuffin or street urchin... except the men, who were the most mussed save Blake Ritson as Edmund who looked like he emptied the bottle of gel before the rest of the gentleman arrived at the make-up trailer. As far as the costumes go, they looked just like that... costumes. I don't think they were very period (although I admit I am no expert) and they really did look like costumes, not clothes to fit the characters.

I have told you before that I studied theater in college but I really don't think I have elitist standards when it comes to movies or plays. I love this quote which I have shared here before:

Theater is life.
Film is art.
Television is furniture.
~on a t-shirt that belonged to a college friend

And while some people might say that it expresses some sort of snobbery or condescension towards television, I say...hey, I love furniture! Furniture can be useful, pretty and entertaining. I'll take a soft, comfy couch in my living room over the sticky floor of an auditorium any day.


  1. Oh I agree... I kept telling my dh... the book doesn't move this fast! The speed of an hour and a half movie made all the points seem superficial and trite -- like a soap opera!! I hope the rest of the PBS Austen's are better.

  2. Hello,

    This my first time commenting on your blog. You have such a lovely site.

    I was extremely disappointed with the production of Mansfield Park last night. I thought that the characters were not developed well at all, and the entire production did not flow well. I couldn't wait for it to end, which is not a good sign in my book.

    Fanny and Edmund, my favorite characters were not very well represented in this version. I agree, Fanny's hair was flying around and looked like she was in great need of a good dye job.

    I am reading the novel now, and am enjoying it very much.

    The Mansfield Park version with Francis O'Connor was much better. You really get a feel for the characters and the movie flows well. However, I am disappointed with the nudity scene( not necessary at all), and there are some really disturbing images of Edmund's father shown in some drawings that Fanny finds-implying horrible things that he had done. Also it shows Edmund's mother as a real nitwit who only likes to drink, sleep and play with her dog. It is doubtful that these things were even written in the novel- but I haven't finished so I'm not sure. Perhaps someone who has read the entire novel would know better. For these reasons, I don't recommend this for family viewing.

  3. I had mentioned in my pre-viewing post on Friday that the one part of the book/older movie that I usually skip through is the home-theatrical scene . . . and lookie what made up most of the first hour of this 90-minute film!

    I, too, took great issue with the camera whipping around all over the place. It was almost as if the camera-person didn't know whom they were supposed to be focusing on!

    Definitely check out the 1999 theatrical release version as well as the 1983 BBC miniseries. Both are much better than this "adaptation."

  4. Daily Grotto,
    Thank you for saying hello! I wondered about the version you mentioned when I was looking through the Netflix files. I don't mind a more adult version, but I like to be forewarned! Thanks for your insight!

    I completely agree! When my husband asked how I liked it, I told him that the camera guy must have thought he was shooting a documentary and was doing it badly. I think they were trying to be "artistic" and it came off as "unskilled".

    Thanks for the other recommendations. I will check those out soon!

  5. Uh, there is no nudity in the book.

    I just read this one in those first days after Mary was born (my second time). Edmund's mom pretty much is a nitwit who cares mainly for her dog and her own comfort. As for the aunt...I guess "breathy" would be apt. She really is too stupid to be a tigress. She is egotistical, proud, snobbish, lazy, self-centered and somewhat greedy, but not calculating and devious as I think of a tiger.

    Like all of Jane's books - it's a good read.

  6. First of all, love that quote! I missed Mansfield Park last night, and am glad I did. When is someone going to make a good adaptation of this good book, I'm wondering?

  7. The movie was very disappointing, especially since I had finished the book the day before and loved it. Mrs. Norris was a big irritating character in the book. I don't remember her even talking in the movie. She actually appeared to be pleasant. Fanny didn't look at all like I imagined her to look. And many things were changed. That picnic was supposed to be a ball, Fanny never went home to her parents house, etc. I think the movie was too short to do the book justice.


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