Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mansfield Park

I was again able to watch this week's Jane Austen adaptation on PBS, though I did not re-read Mansfield Park, since it is not one of my favorites. My mom has been in town, which has been wonderful, and I was glad not to have to watch it alone. In addition, our local HD PBS station started broadcasting Masterpeice Theater on Sunday nights, so we were able to watch it clearly and in widescreen!

However, I was disappointed by this film version. In some ways, I preferred the recent theatrical production, particularly in the choice of heroine. I was most distracted by the actress playing Fanny. I know Fanny wasn't supposed to be a raving beauty, but this girl's strong features were not the plain Jane I have always imagined Fanny to be. (My mom and I both felt she looked a little like a horse. Maybe it was the toothy grin or the dark eyebrows under those blonde curls, but whatever it was about her, we were both turned off.)

Also, I never felt like Fanny and Edmund clicked in this version. I almost wanted Mary to win Edmund's heart, even though she and her brother were quite wicked. Somehow, her wit and charm made her much more appealing in this film version, whereas in the book she pales in comparison to Fanny's shining moral compass. And did Edmund not really seem like a clergyman to anyone else? I thought he was more of a brooding poet.

If, somehow, a screenwriter could combine the actors of the 1999 Mansfield Park with the feel and pace of this one, I might like it a bit more. As it is, I may just have to watch Northanger Abbey again. I much prefer PBS's Catherine Moreland to this flighty, ill-conceived Fanny Price.

What are your thoughts, if you watched it?


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