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Austen on Film > Discuss versions of Mansfield Park

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message 1: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
We've had an interested discussion of the movie adaptations lately and it was suggested that we do a group discussion of a few of them. I was asked to make first pick, so I would like to discuss the movies of Mansfield Park. The two versions I am interested in are the one starring Frances O'Connor and the BBC version which aired in 2008.

So enjoy watching these two versions and we'll chat about them beginning 3/7? Let me know if anyone would like to adjust that date. (We'll keep this very informal!) We'll start with the Frances O'Connor version (directed by Patricia Rozema).


message 2: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Also, I wanted to thank Elizabeth for this fun idea for the group. After all, we all get tired of reading sometimes. Don't we? (:-D Well maybe not, but we still have fun watching the movies!


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) My wife, Susan, and I just finished watching the Patricia Rozema adaptation of Mansfield Park, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it! Sure, it was different in many places from Austen's superb novel (which will always be one of my faves), but I admire that in a director and screenwriter. Personally, I am NOT looking for a literal word-for-word transfer of novel to screen. I am looking for the director's/screenwriter's interpretation of what the novel meant to them. In this respect, I believe that Rozema succeeded very well.

I thought the acting, the cinematography, and the plotting was fabulous. Also, I think Rozema did a masterful job at addressing many of the unspoken, but alluded to, complicated and complex issues that the novel puts forth -- the latent and potent sexuality and relationship entanglements or machinations of many of the protagonists; the issues swirling around slavery and its effect upon the Bertram family and its economy. I also think that Rozema was remarkably faithful in her illustration of each of the characters' primary flaws and traits; from her portrayal of Aunt Norris's odiousness, the weakness and addiction of Lady Bertram, the pride of Sir Thomas, and so forth.

About two years ago we watched, and enjoyed the multi-episode BBC production of the early-1980s. It was good, and was extraordinarily faithful to the book; and while primitive, was well-filmed and acted. In the final analysis though, I enjoyed watching Rozema's adaptation the best; it was thought-provoking, complicated, and controversial; just as Austen's novel remains to this day. A big 'thumbs-up' from me for Ms. Rozema's effort! Cheers! Chris


message 4: by Holly (new)

Holly Fairall (birdbrainbooks) (birdbrainbooks) | 48 comments So I just tried to watch the 1999 adaptation after reading the book for the first time, and i was HORRIFIED!!! I thought it was horrible, bad taste, super creepy, and badly done.

Fanny is made to look like a bad-ass courageous adventurer, when she is actually physically very sickly and quiet and faints from picking roses for too long in the sun.

Mr. Bertram is made to be EXTREMELY creepy in how he views Fanny, in a pervy way.

Miss Crawford also is all handsy with Fanny, which is SO not Austen/in the book.

What happened here??!! I usually have a high tolerance for adaptations not living to the book by the letter, but this one I had to turn off without finishing.


message 5: by Louise Sparrow (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 304 comments You didn't finish it? You hadn't even got to the worst bits then.


message 6: by Holly (new)

Holly Fairall (birdbrainbooks) (birdbrainbooks) | 48 comments I was so disappointed! I was expecting to like it. Oh well.


message 7: by Louise Sparrow (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 304 comments Have you seen the other two? The 80's one is the closest to the book... the 2007 one is wrong but I find it funny rather than offensive like the '99 one.


message 8: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum Holly wrote: "So I just tried to watch the 1999 adaptation after reading the book for the first time, and i was HORRIFIED!!! I thought it was horrible, bad taste, super creepy, and badly done.

Fanny is made to ..."


Ha, ha, Holly! I just commented on the other thread... (wherein I agreed with you)


message 9: by Annie (new)

Annie (anniecarrillo15) | 5 comments The thing is I liked the 2007 version a ton. However, Billie Piper did not make a god Fanny. Don't get me wrong I love Billie Piper. She is one of my favorite actresses ever. It's just that Fanny Price was meant to kind of be a more meek person and Billie Piper is really a strong woman. I didn't terribly like the other version just because it was like they were trying to make everything more perverted. There were some very good things about the other version too and I will like any version probably. I just have to say for me it's the 2007 version.


message 10: by AlegnaB † (new)

AlegnaB † (alegnab) I dislike both of those versions, and I don't plan to watch them again. It's been a long time since I've seen either, but from what I remember, I think I agree with what Holly said in message 4 about Fanny in the 1999 version. I rated it 5 out of 10 on IMDB. As to the 2007 version, I thought Billie Piper was totally wrong for the part and looked like a floozy. I rated it 3 on IMDB.

I'll take the 1983 BBC version over the two newer ones any day. In fact, I own it.


message 11: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum She did look like a floozy (the 10 minutes I watched!), and that's silly because slattern was NOT something Fanny was!


Victoria_Grossack Grossack (victoriagrossack) | 94 comments I know I'm late to the discussion but I've just started watching the 1999 version - I decided to treat myself on a rainy afternoon and it is VERY rainy - but I am appalled. The characters do not resemble the characters at all.

I can understand some of the changes - some things work better on screen, others in books - but this is not the shy but disciplined Fanny Price of the novel. So I had to come here to see if anyone had a similar reaction. At least I am not alone!


message 13: by Louise Sparrow (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 304 comments Oh you're definitely not alone!


message 14: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum I did end up watching the 1983 version a year or so ago. It was much more faithful to the book, and, although not by any means perfect, it was a quite decent adaptation! I read in a couple of reviews that Fanny's mannerisms were considered over the top, but I thought that they showed her character quite well. However, I still think that there's room for another filming - a perfect one this time, done by someone who understands Fanny perfectly.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 169 comments Karlyne,

I'll try watching this version of "Mansfield Park" based on your comments.

I've been a little afraid of what would be done with Fanny in a tv or movie treatment of the book to make her appealing or palatable to a mass audience.

It's such a shame bec this book is in my top 2 favorites of JAs major novels.


message 16: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder wrote: "Karlyne,

I'll try watching this version of "Mansfield Park" based on your comments.

I've been a little afraid of what would be done with Fanny in a tv or movie treatment of the book to make her a..."


I love Mansfield Park, too! It took me a very long time to understand Fanny, but I seriously love her now and I'm glad I took the time to get to know her. And this version didn't disgust or horrify me because they didn't take liberties with her character. I don't think it is completely satisfying, but I still did like it.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 169 comments I'll have to order this version (DVD) of "Mansfield Park" from Amzn.


message 18: by Louise Sparrow (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 304 comments Even the latest version with Billie Piper was closer in spirit than the 1996 version, but the 1983 adaptation is most definitely the closest and is trying to be faithful.

I've been watching Emma for the other discussion and realised that they have some actors in common too, Maria became Mrs Weston and her father, Mr Woodhouse.


message 19: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 698 comments The Patricia Rozema film turns Fanny into Jane Austen, making her the narrator and the character. It's an interesting story but it's not Mansfield Park. Fanny becomes a feminist character to appeal to modern audiences. The latest version isn't that great either. I haven't seen the 1980s one.


message 20: by Karen (new)

Karen Sofarin | 27 comments Having read more of Jane Austen's life, the juvenilia and her letters, I appreciate this 1999 version so much more and enjoy watching it. Usually I do not like a version that deviates from the book much but this is an exception. I have seen the Billie Piper version which I did not care for, but now will try to find the 1983 version. I think a truer adaptation would not be likely to appeal to a modern audience, however much us Janeites would enjoy it.


message 21: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 503 comments I don’t know of a really good film adaptation of MP, but the Patricia Rozema one is at least interesting. More like a conversation with MP and with Jane Austen than an adaptation, but I’m okay with that!


message 22: by Namida... (new)

Namida... | 19 comments I think what was mostly annoying for me is that the book imo has a lot of beautiful themes and characters that you don't have to deviate from to sell an interesting story. It just needs someone with a vision. That's why I'm hoping someone does take it up for adaptation again, it deserves a heartfelt adaptation like BBC's 2008 Sense and Sensibility.

The Francis O'Connor one wasn't just liberal, it felt like it was trashing the book and what it stood for. I usually like liberal adaptations but somehow not this one.

I also think that Fanny's character is adaptable, she doesn't have to be made purposely feminist or strong-willed to be loved. The 1995 Persuasion had a great and mostly accurate Anne with her timidity and acquiescence. People still loved her and her presence was still felt.

As for the Billie Piper one, I found it completely forgettable and ridiculous with no vision at all. The only thing I remember specifically is that it didn't even show Fanny going to Portsmouth, an event that isn't just random or dispensable in an adaptation. The novel is about Mansfield Park, Fanny going to Portsmouth and coming to appreciate her time in Mansfield is extremely significant for the development of the character. Not to mention Henry Crawford's proposal being there takes on a different meaning altogether. I just found this one laughable.


message 23: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 503 comments Ugh, the Billie Piper MP was just gibberish! Talk about nothing to do with the book. She was like a bumptious shepherdess.


message 24: by Louise Sparrow (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 304 comments LOL I really don't mind that one, it's better than the 1999 version at least, it's just rather rushed.


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