Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mansfield Park 1999

I have, for many months, been avoiding this version of Mansfield Park. I had been doing this because...

1. I had heard it was a complete and utter travesty and nothing like the original novel,
2. I wasn't sure how an Austen adaptation could be rated a 15 (!!!), and
3. The opinions and reviews I had read about it made it sound like a really awful film.
But, I wanted to have a version of Mansfield Park which I would choose to watch. After reading the novel, I soon after watched the 2007 version with Billie Piper, and I hesitate to call it an adaptation of the novel...

It was so short, meaning the story was barely recognisable and the way it was edited missed out so many major points in the plot; such as the trip to Portsmouth and her coming-out ball (which turned into a picnic!) As well the plot being completely mashed up, I didn't think the acting was all that special and I think just to try and get a novel the length of Mansfield Park down to an hour and a half film is just not possible! (Its not too bad if I watch it and think of it as a film based on Mansfield Park instead of an adaptation of the novel!)
A few weeks later I saw the BBC series made in 1983. This was a long series (over 5 hours!) and sometimes you could tell it was made a little while ago (the camera work or the sets) and the acting was a little stiff from time to time. Otherwise, I thought it wasn't bad. It was very accurate, which I liked, and on the whole, not bad. So, this one became my favourite adaptation. But, its too long to watch in an evening! So, a few weeks after, I thought I would give the 1999 version a shot, especially as the complete film was on YouTube in parts ;) And, I was pleasantly surprised. 

Firstly, the plot and accuracy to the novel.  I was surprised. It was edited, of course as it is only a 2 hour film, but it was edited well, and they most important parts were kept in, I think. The parts that were included were very accurate and it was much more recognisable as Mansfield Park!

Next, the actors. I thought everyone acted there parts very well.
I really enjoyed the performance from Frances O' Connor. Her portrayal of Fanny was, I will admit, a little more confident than she appears in the novel, but I thought it was an interesting take on her character and I really enjoyed it.
I also thought the performance from Johnny Lee Miller as Edmund Bertram was brilliant! I think what I particularly liked was that at the beginning, before he became completely besotted with Mary Crawford, he didn't act as though he was completely ignorant of Fanny, and there was a hint of the strong admiration he had for her, which I think helped in making the realisation of his real love Fanny more realistic and not so sudden.
All the other characters were well portrayed as well!

There were 2 scenes which is what I think makes the rating a 15. These did not ruin the film for me.

The music was lovely in this version, as was the scenery and the sets. So, overall, it was a great film and a great adaptation of Mansfield Park I thought, and I now have a version of Mansfield Park I can watch in an evening, and would choose to watch.

What did you think of it? I know some might disagree with me!

Your affectionate friend,
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Sunday, September 09, 2012

Why do we love Jane Austen?

Jane Austen's works are some of the most widely read of all English Literature. They have been translated into 35 different languages and still continue to grow in popularity.

There are many different reasons why Ms. Austen's work is so popular and loved among such a wide ranging variety of people.

Firstly, it would be that her novels are, in a word, satisfying!

Anybody with a romantic bone in their body (every bone in mine is romantic ;)) will love a happy ending, and this is what Ms. Austen's work gives us! Thinking mainly of her 6 major novels, in each one, the hero, after many trials and tribulations, gets the heroine! However 'predictable' some people will say her writing is, the road to the happy ending is never predictable and often very bumpy! And I think, even if you can guess how it is all going to turn out, part of the fun is knowing how it will get there, and anyway, what's wrong with having a happy ending? We all want one, deep down!

I find that if we are given what we want, it leaves you feeling happy, which is always a great way to finish a book :)

A few of my favourite romantic quotes would have to be... (and this is just a very few!)

From Pride and Prejudice;
"Such I was, from eight to eight and twenty; and such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth! What do I not owe you! You taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. By you, I was properly humbled. I came to you without a doubt of my reception. You shewed me how insufficient were all my pretencions to please a woman worthy of being pleased."

And from Persuasion;
"You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago ... I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan."

And lastly from Emma;
"My dearest Emma, for dearest you will always be, whatever the event of this hour's conversation, my dearest, most beloved Emma--tell me at once ...
I cannot make speeches, Emma: If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more."

Another reason why the novels are so popular would have to be the humour!

When reading one of the novels, it is always fun to experience a character such as Mr Collins, Mr Woodhouse or even Mr Tilney! The humour and wit of her characters is evident throughout all 6 of her novels and contribute greatly to the overall effect. This wonderfully clever humour helps to keep a light and upbeat feel to the novel and the witty dialogue shared between the characters is really very entertaining! It just makes you smile or even laugh out loud, which is always a sign of a good book!

Now for a few funny quotes... (and there are plenty to choose from!)

From Northanger Abbey;
"A woman, especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can."

And from Emma;
"I do not want people to be very agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them a great deal."

And one from Mansfield Park;
"An engaged woman is always more agreeable than a disengaged. She is satisfied with herself. Her cares are over, and she feels that she may exert all her powers of pleasing without suspicion. All is safe with a lady engaged; no harm can be done."

And of course there are some great moments of humour between the characters. Here is just one example from Pride and Prejudice, and you are almost sorry for Mr Collins at this point;
"Judge very properly, and it is happy for you that you posses the talent of flattering with delicacy. May I ask whether these pleasing attentions proceed from the impulse of the moment, or are the result of previous study?"

Another great aspect to her novels has to be Ms. Austen's wonderful talent for characterisation!

All her characters are so well thought through and we learn about them through their actions or what they say, without the need to be told directly about each person. She covers everything from the dashing hero to the witty heroine, from the scheming Aunt to the innocent friend! Each character has an important part to play in the stories, and even the less important ones still are made to seem necessary for your enjoyment of the story, and this is due to Ms. Austen's talent! She can see past the social masks worn by many during the era to the real person behind the mask, to there true opinions and motivations! And, I'm sure we can all say we know someone like Mrs Bennet, or Isabella Thorpe or even Mr Collins!

Some of my favourite characters have to be...

(ok, predictable!) Miss Elizabeth Bennet, from Pride and Prejudice.
I think anyone could realise why I like her; she is such a likable character!
Her quick humour, witty remarks and general playful, good-natured impertinence make her stand out from society (and appeal to the dashing Mr Darcy!)

A couple of my favourite quotes of hers would be...

"There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me."

"You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure."

"There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense."

Another favourite character of mine would have to be Mr Henry Tilney, from Northanger Abbey. He is such a funny character, with the way he makes fun of society and its silly ways as well as the way he teases the naive Catherine Morland. He also shows a great love and affection towards his sister, and of course Catherine!

Some great quotes would be...

"This is a very nice day, and we are taking a very nice walk, and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh! It is a very nice word indeed."

"You feel, as you always do, what is most to the credit of the human nature."

"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid."

They are two great characters and I love pretty much all of the heroes and heroines. And as for the more minor characters, there are some great characters to be found there as well!

A few of my favourites there would be...
Jane Bennet; she is just so lovely!
Mr Woodhouse; if maybe a little annoying at times, he is still very sweet!
Eleanor Tilney; she seems like such a nice sister and her relationship with her brother is great!

And lets not forget the 'baddies'...
Mr Wickham; king of the 'bad boys' in my opinion and I love to hate him!
Caroline Bingley; she needs to back off Darcy and back off Elizabeth, she is such a spiteful character!
Mr Elton; such a slimy character! And why he ever thought he could get Emma I do not know!

And lastly, of the reasons I am going to mention, (I know I have left many out, these are my main reasons!) would be the stories themselves!

Each story is very different from the others and each is so complex that changing a single event in any of the stories would have a huge impact on the rest of the story!

Just imagine if Lizzy had never run into Darcy at Pemberley, how would she have seen the reformed Darcy and grown to realise he was the one for her?

Or what if Wentworth had never gone back into the room 'to collect his gloves'? Would Anne have found the letter?

As well as the complexity of the plots, they are also never boring with something or someone new coming along or an important twist in the plot just around the corner!

So, there are a very few reasons why I love Jane Austen's amazing writing, and I'm sure why so many others adore her as well! (And I haven't even touched on the locations, the mocking of the social graces of the time, the irony or the wonderful way in which she can still, today, transport us into the wonderful regency world through her wonderful writing!) Why do you love Jane?

Your affectionate friend,
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