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The Complete Jane Austen "Mansfield Park" by Lori Smith

Masterpiece Classic

Fanny Price is a ninny. (Forgive me, dear Jane.) I've tried to like her and I can't.

When I was first asked to blog about Mansfield Park, the editor mentioned that she saw "such similarity" between me and Fanny. I had to stop to consider whether or not that was an insult.

Fanny is terribly good, but that's really the only good thing you can say about her. She lacks spirit, she lacks warmth. In the book, she does not smile or run. She doesn't have fun. Her moral compass is incredibly accurate-annoyingly so at times (does she always have to be so right?)-and she is strong enough to always stick with it, and we can admire her for that. But my admiration is hesitantly given. I wish she had just the tiniest bit of spark, some kind of energy.

Of course, that's not the only problem with Mansfield Park. One of its key conflicts is around the play Lover's Vows-which, while admittedly risque and inappropriate, feels like a very pedantic moral conflict around which to build a plot. And then, of course, in the end, Fanny marries her cousin-ugh-the one she's grown up with like a brother.

So, the great triumph of this adaptation, to me, was that I actually liked it, and I liked Fanny. The screenwriter took liberties to make her run around, flirt a bit, smile all the time. Her energy makes her more attractive. They managed to do that without sacrificing any of her goodness, which is crucial.

The way the Lover's Vows scenes were handled helped me understand why it would have been so scandalous, which made the whole book make more sense. If it's a very shortened story, you get the sense that pug-loving Lady Bertram is ridiculous for her indolence, that Edmund is kind and conscientious, if tempted, and that the Crawfords are charmingly deceitful.

I was curious to know exactly how closely the screenplay stuck to the book, but that would have required me to actually read the book again, which, for reasons described above, I was not anxious to do. I should perhaps warn modern viewers, though, that there aren't any kisses at all in Austen's novels (are there? I don't think so)--even engagements then were sealed with simply conversation, as difficult as that is to believe. There would not have been quite so many bosoms on display, Fanny's hair would have been up rather than being all helter-skelter, and the waltz at the end was, I believe, rather anachronistic and would have been scandalous. (And dancing outdoors?) But these are liberties I can overlook.

There are many reasons to delve into Mansfield Park. I believe Edmund represents many of Jane's ideas about what it meant to be a good clergyman (to live out love among one's parishioners, particularly), ideas which were not at all fashionable and that she learned from her father and brothers, who were men of the cloth. And more than any other novel, I think this one holds up Jane's ideals of Christian virtue. If nothing else, Fanny is virtuous, and for Jane, that's what makes her attractive.

I'm glad to have Billie Piper's Fanny to help me begin to like Jane's Fanny again. And of course, I'll go back and re-read it soon, hoping to discover that I am wrong about the book. It's Austen, after all, and I'm devoted to everything she wrote.

The cousin thing is still creepy, though.

Comments

In the book, Fanny not only lack spirit and warmth, she cries all the damn time.

That's why, when Stephanie Barron (whose Austen-as-detective novels I normally enjoy, and think well-done) ended her latest with Jane musing that she would write a roman a clef (my words, not Barron's) on the spirited, gutsy, independent Julia Radcliffe and call it "Mansfield Park", I about lost my teeth.

Read it (assuming you have any tolerance for Barron's work) and tell me what you think.

An extraordinary review, Ms Smith. By erasing what is at the core of the book, you can learn to like it: you cannot respect someone who is powerless and contends against a structure of power without enacting the ethic of competition, the desire to aggress and dominate, the ethic of conquest and overt materialistic winning. This is to be sure an ethnic reinforced by most movies (and is identified as the American way to success), and what the makers of the new MP have cleverly done is taken an actress who normally enacts this baggage and hired her to play Fanny Price.

Really Rozema was less disingenuous and franker in her displacement of this disturbing character who reveals so much. She openly replaced her or combined her with the narrator of the Juvenilia and what we know of one incident in Austen's life (her refusal of Biggs-Wither).

I had not seen any reviews of the new movie adapted from MP (in the analogous, i.e., only intermediately faithful way) which favored it on these grounds. Thank you.

Ellen Moody

I wish I could like the film as you do, but I could not. However, your review does echo what the director and Billie Piper intended - to make Fanny more accessible to the modern viewer. And, yeah, I get turned off by the fact that Fanny marries a first cousin, but that was common practice at the time.

I'm not the biggest fan of Fanny Price either, but I have come to admire her intransigence in the face of great opposition and pressure. Here is a young girl who is beholden to her uncle for a roof over her head and the clothes she wears, and she defies him. She stands up against the crowd (the play actors) to stick up for her values. She, who has been verbally abused most of her young life by her aunt Norris, courageously manages to stay the course and take the tougher road. Most of us would have simply caved in under such intense pressure.

When Fanny is sent to Portsmouth (a scene that is missing) to live in her family's overcrowded hovel, she still manages to resist the temptations that the well-off and manipulative Henry Crawford throws her way

This film adaptation has eviscerated the true dramatic tension from the novel, and turned Jane's story into a mere romantic romp.

Thanks for making me laugh, Lori. Although Fanny Price has grown on me over the years (and many readings), I still tend to think of her as someone I'd like to have on my side rather than someone I'd like to be best friends with.

I have not yet seen the new adaptation, but anyone who adapts this, of all Austen's novels, to the screen, has his work cut out for him (or her). I'm glad to hear that these filmmakers illuminated what was objectionable about "Lover's Vows." It wasn't until I attended a JASNA lecture in which a few of the scenes were acted out that I realized how inappropriate this play was for this group in this context. A pity that Portsmouth is missing, though. Or is that only in the US version, I wonder?

Thanks again for a very entertaining review, and one that makes me look forward to the film!

I have loved Jane Austen for forty years. I love her witty remarks and I love her heroines, including Fanny. Why did PBS bother to do a film of Mansfield Park and take out all that is central to the book? Fanny is shy and has strong moral and spiritual convictions that many people can identify with. What was the point of doing a pseudo Jane Austen? Aren't the films supposed to be for people who LIKE Austen?

Very good of you, Ms. Smith, to recognize the near ridiculousness of the waltz, but yes, that can be overlooked. But what cannot be overlooked is the general appearance of the film that reeks of 1980s BBC productions with poorly delivered lines, melodramatic music, and the similar color/style. While I'm glad that you recognize that Fanny Price does have some redeeming qualities, especially as Jane Austen's Christian character, you are absolutely correct. She is a ninny and Emily Dickinson has nothing on her in that description. But you must be aware that Austen's incorporation of the play into the book is a reflection and social commentary on how all the Great Houses of the English at that time were doing these "home theatrics." Was this merely a reflection on the presence of a scandalous play in such a confined household as Mansfield, or is the inclusion also a bit of documentation on the changing ways of how the upper class entertained themselves? And while you're right that technically Fanny's hair shouldn't be all over the place, it most definitely wouldn't have been a well done coif, done by a lady's maid. She was, after all, considered in extreme detail in the book itself, "not out."

Just finished watching Mansfield Park....I loved everything about it-- except Billy Piper as Fanny Price. With her unkempt, bottle-blond hair (about 50 shades lighter than her eyebrows) she looked like a Sixties Flower Child, all grown up and ready for her first thong bikini. She just had that California Dreaming look about her....very unAustin-esque! And there was something about her expression throughout the film. Someone who plays a woman of character must actually look as if she HAS a bit of character. Ms. Piper simply looked like a tart in a long dress who wandered into the wrong movie by mistake.

I've never really understood why people declare they really can't stand the character of Fanny Price. She is meek, she is shy. She's not lively like Emma Woodhouse - she is physically weak, and not particularly clever.
But in the context of Mansfield Park, Fanny Price is the only person who can see herself, and the others, clearly. She observes others, she studies them. Even as she is oppressed and ignored, she doesn't complain - she lives her life around the obstacles, not running directly at them.

You may like Fanny Price, you may not. But if you like Austen at all, you need to spend some time thinking about the era she was writing in, and the meaning of Fanny's character in the context of the time. To the other characters in the book, Fanny is a bit of a throwback - too good, too demurring, not nearly modern and flashy and forthright enough. But she prevails. The weak girl, the shy girl, the girl who is afraid to turn the knob and open the door - wins. Not because of her obedience, but because of her intransigence - refusing Crawford's hand, refusing to play the game of social climbing, refusing to be untrue to her simple heart. Everyone around her sells out, exhorts her to do the same... and she refuses.

Ther is a core of steel at the centre of this shy, awkward girl. Fanny Price may not have the charm of an Elisabeth Bennet, but she has the nerve. If you find her weak and colourless, it can only be because you aren't attuned to the spirit of that age and to Austen's tribute to an honest heart.

The problem with these recent adaptations is 90 minutes!
Fanny Price runs because BBC has to get the whole story in 90 minutes. Each story has moved just too quickly and the sense of real life in Austen's time isn't realized.
In "Mansfield Park" tonight, the Crawfords did refer to the vista and how it could be improved by adding some ruins. People built gigantic "follys" in the distance just to have something to look at or to walk to.
They didn't have tv and books were not so available. The women of Austen's class and era didn't have anything to do.
Rush,rush,rush is what is wrong with these portrayals.

I feel that it is disingenuous of PBS to claim that this is the work of Jane Austen. The stories are almost unrecognizable. It would have been nice if the screenwriter had actually read the books. Yes, it is difficult to compress the entire story into 90 minutes, so why add scenes that did not happen? (The picnic?) The delightful wickedness of Aunt Norris and the Crawfords was downplayed, leaving a story with no substance. And, it is a shame that no one on the set remembered to bring a hairbrush.(Yes, even the lowly Fanny had a lady's maid sent to her before her Ball) And the costume designer needs to do homework as well! Unfortunately, those who are unfamiliar with the Regency period might take these "adaptations" as truth. A complete disservice to Miss Austen.

This adaptation of Mansfield Park was a disappointment. The casting was spot on and I actually found the film's Edmund, who was dull and pompous in the novel, to be appealing. Unfortunately, the casting of Fanny Price ruined the film for me. The actress had messy, fried, bleach-blonded hair that looked garish with her dark eyebrows. The actress looked out of period and rather bizarre contrasted with the other actors that it ruined the film for me.

This production of Mansfield Park might well turn a first-time Jane Austen viewer away from ever trying another! I had a hard time following who was whom, most of the ladies looking so much alike, and I am well-acquainted with the book. Fanny is so poorly portrayed, the acting so rushed that much was not understood, it made me sad to see, and I wonder why anyone would remake the story if it could not be as good if not better than previously done. I beg anyone new to Jane Austen's Mansfield Park to read the book, or at least see the 1986 BBC production starring Anna Massey, Sylvestra Le Touzel and Nicholas Farrell--This and other Austen stories done at that time by the BBC are wonderful and follow the content and feel of the books very well. They are longer for a reason!

Reference to Anne Morse comments - I agree. Do not think Billy Piper displayed a true characterization of Fanny Price. She seemed too flirtatious with Edmond -- when alone and somewhat manipulative at other times.

I have to agree with many of the comments on the length of the productions - 90 minutes is just not enough time for this material. The 2 Austen books I have not read yet are Northanger Abbey and Mansfiled Park. I thought the Northanger production was pretty good, but not long enough. Mansfield Park was very disappointing - the length obviously truncated much of the story and I found myself feeling very left out of the plot, wondering what I obviously missed with it jumping around and not clearly presenting characters, motives, etc. It was kind of dull. I will read the book now, though. I like Billie Piper, but I agree her hair and costumes were awful. I will look forward to Sense & Sensibility, which I understand is a lengthier mini-series for this season.

i thought the L.A. Times article was also quite good reviewing this...but i CANNOT like Billy Piper (formerly of "Doctor Who")as Fanny Price!...to seem as unrepentantly and "profoundly shallow" as Mary Crawford i could NOT like her mainly because she had such LARGE TEETH! she looked like a horse about to whinny at any moment!!! ...her lips stretching over them at all times with that simpering smile that did not reach her eyes ...again..shallow of ME to point this out but i couldn't get past it!!
....and i agreed with some of the bloggers and commenters out there...40% of the book was cut out to make the scant hour and a half... some of the best speeches were left out and what is left is a bare scratching of the surface of one Austen's most regarded novels...(though i do like others better) i'm still sticking with the series...very ambitious..and i will most likely buy the whole bloody boxed set in DVD when it's released....Persuasion so far being my favourite...but there you go....it's still better than ANYthing on the networks...../rant

I havent read the book, but I loved this adaptation. Billie Piper's Fanny smit me. She made the character so lovable that I would walk through fire for her. I think I might read the book now and see what I can get out of it.

I'm old enough to remember the first mini series of Pride and Prejudice and also Emma Thompson's movie Sense and Sensibility. What struck me with both is the language, the different customs, the restraint expected of persons in society, something that is so foreign to most "civilized" cultures today. No wonder Ms. Smith enjoyed this version so much and I did not. I felt Ms. Piper was so wrong for the part of Fanny, even to the point of her looks, while lovely, at the time would not be considered so. She was obviously uncomfortable with cadence of speech from that time period and even her physical movements were very definitely from the 21st, not the 19th, century. I interpreted Jane Austen's Fanny as a child, torn from her happy home and sent to live with people who did not care for her and repeatedly belittled her and her station (maybe not such a cultural difference from our current age). Mrs. Norris was a much larger presence in the book as Fanny's tormentor. She made the best of it and persevered with only her goodness and level head upon which to rely. I think that more of Ms. Austen's dialogue should have been used, as that is the stuff of which makes her books so fascinating, at a time when conversation was so much more than now, when lovemaking was with words rather than jumping straight to the clinches. And as uncomfortable as it is in our age for a person to marry their cousin, at that time it was wholly accepted, even encouraged. Again, it's not a sensibility for now, but for 1812-ish. Austen should be read as an informative window on the times, in addition to great stories and wonderful, sometimes flawed, characters. She doesn't need to be modernized for those who appreciate her works for what they are. To modernize Austin is like buying a colonial house and turning the interior into a chrome, glass and stainless loft with no walls. If you don't like the style, why buy it in the first place?

After Persuasion I felt I could still say that even poorly done Austen is better than most of what's on television these days. But last night's Mansfield Park has nearly changed my mind. It simply couldn't hold my interest and that was due in no small part to the completely wrong look of Billy Piper as Fanny. I won't go into the other irritants that kept me changing the channel, but my current opinion of The Complete Jane Austen is that it is a parade of productions that have placed too much emphasis on "adaptation" and not enough on Jane Austen and her time. I still have high hopes for the coming weeks, but then again, I am an eternal optimist.

I thought the casting for this adaptation was perfect - except for Fanny. I couldn't get over how unkempt and askew she looked, especially in comparison with how everyone else did. A central part of her personality is that she has a shyness and a reserve about her that the people around her lack. I couldn't fathom why she would be portrayed as more spirited, more informal, and more gregarious than everyone else in the story.

I hate to be crass, I really do, but I couldn't help feeling like the people in charge of costuming made their mockups for Fanny out of the patterns left over from Madonna's Like a Virgin tour. She was garishly made up, the gold cross around her neck and the way Edmund played with it during the picnic was tacky and cheap, and the porn-blond hair flying around made her look like a trollop. Why in the world was this done? To be perfectly honest, I think the way Sally Hawkins played Anne Elliot in the first adaptation in this series would have been much more appropriate to Fanny - provided that the much-remarked about kiss could have been dispensed with.

Does anyone have any idea why the picnic got put in place of the ball? Or what it was supposed to demonstrate?

I thought this adaptation better than Persuasion, but I think I would have enjoyed it much more had the artistic team been more scrupulous and true to Fanny's personality and character. I happen to like her.

Last note: The dialogue and staging of the scandalous play (and players) really illustrated for me what all the fuss was about in the novel regarding the play's inappropriacy for the young players. I really liked that, and it gave me further insight into why Fanny might have been so horrified in the novel.

By the way, good job with Northanger Abbey, PBS. I really enjoyed it.

Why are great works of literature adapted for the screen and not respected? I am reminded of The Scarlet Letter with Demi Moore. They changed the ending, stating "no one will notice as they never read it anyway." What pomposity! What condescension. What complete ignorance. Why take on a well loved and well known story if not to bring it to life as it was written? The dialogue is the most important part, and imaginary scenes should not be added whilst important ones are deleted. This is the second or third of these adaptations where the heroine is dowdy and unkempt in comparison to the others of her family or social circle. Why is that necessary? Even if there was less money for clothing, there would be a reasonably similar level of grooming and toilette to members of the same household. Fanny would have had long hair and it would have been arranged in some manner, not helter skelter - and yes, the color would have been natural, not brassy bottle blonde. That waltz - puhh-leeeease. What was the point? Such silliness is imcomprehensible to me. Why go to the trouble of putting a production together, finding a wonderful setting, hiring a lot of good costumes and some good actors, just to blow it with anachronistic actions? How can one take such a production seriously? Why didn't the producer/art director/historian put a stop to it? That line - "Oh look, they have invented a new dance!" Ludicrous. As Lady Catherine de Bourgh exclaimed in Pride and Prejudice, "It is simply not to be borne." Why does great literature have to be corrupted and made "more accessible" so that people will watch it? The truth is, the closer the production sticks to the story, the better it is. The reason these stories are still being read is that they were so good to begin with that they have withstood the test of time, and putting a modern spin on them, with sex, anachronistic dialogue and sometimes props, simply won't do. There are too many of us out there who know better. Dumbing them down or attempting to make them more provocative by adding nudity and sex is just not necessary. It is gilding the lily. Even the costumes were not quite right in this one. Why were the bosoms thrust upward so? Women were not corseted at that time and would not have appeared that way. The men's costumes were better. As far as marrying a cousin, we are trained to think it is 'icky', but science has proven that there is nothing wrong with doing so. It was discouraged for a while because it was considered dangerous from a genetic viewpoint. Not that I advocate it, but there is now no known impediment to marrying a first cousin. Keep in mind that during Jane's time, people did not come into contact with so many others outside their circle. Travel was a hardship and danger, so people kept close to home and didn't meet as many possible matches outside the family as we do now. I take issue with the casting of the show. The heroine really did have a very 21st century look. They should pick someone right for the part to make it more believable. The thing I take no issue with, though, is the setting. Newby Hall is magnificent and very appropriate to the story. Those Adam rooms were a feast for the eyes. Stay tuned for Pride and Prejudice. It is the best adaptation I have seen. They got most of the story in (it ran for six hours on A & E) which is a treat in itself. The pace is much more Austenesque. There are no obvious anachronisms and other silliness and the characters are very well drawn. Okay, they did add the swimming scene with Colin Firth, but I liked that (along with millions of other women). About time, too, we women had something to feast our eyes upon. Anyway, the gist of my comments is that Jane Austen's work is great just the way she wrote it, and doesn't need spicing up - stick to the story - all of it!

The 1986 BBC production of Mansfield Park (260-312 minutes, depending upon the reviewer) is available on DVD, cheap, if you look a bit--like an Amazon 3rd party seller. Watching some of these current Masterpiece offerings is really trying, and it's much better to own some of the great productions that have been done in the past. We have been recording these for many years, and we watch them over and over with great pleasure. We are recording the current ones, but we wouldn't keep any so far.

I hope that those of you who didn't catch the A&E showing of Pride and Prejudice years ago will like it. I understand that it is to be shown in this current series, and I certainly hope they won't cut it. I don't think that Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth can be beat.

Because I am fairly new to the works of Jane Austen, both in her actual writings as well as any screen adaptations, I have thoroughly enjoyed the series thus far. I believe it to be an advantage to first view any adaptations and subsequently to read the original work. I attempted to read "Persuasion" about a year ago and quickly became lost by the characters and their relationships. I fully expect that in reading this now I will be greatly aided by being able to visualize the story.

What movie has ever lived up to the expectations of those who consider themselves fans of the written word? How could anyone ever successfully condense a book, which may take 15 - 20 hours to read, into a movie lasting a tenth the time. You can't remove something, anything and not lose something. If these adaptations can give us a general understanding of the characters and events, the books can fill these out. In addition to this, one should also take into account the imagination of the reader, unique to each, which creates the characters, settings and conflicts based upon that persons particular life experience. Only the author knows how he or she truly wants to convey a particular person or place. Because we are biased by our own version of the story and its participants we are more often than not dissapointed in how a particular screenplay, director or actor fails to mesh with this.

I believe that Miss Austen's works should be seen both as a commentary on the time in which she lived and as a view into the human condition - which, often sadly, transcends any given era. I expect to have a greater understanding and appreciation for Miss Austen's writings after first viewing and then reading the stories. I also believe that the Masterpiece series makes for much better viewing than almost anything else on television and applaud all those involved.

Lori Smith's admissions are nearly as disappointing as this adaptation of Mansfield Park. Why would PBS approach someone who admittedly dislikes the novel and its heroine to review a film upon which it is based? I can't fathom why, except that perhaps they knew only someone who had a strong dislike for the character as written would provide them with a favorable review.

Perhaps more disappointing, though, is that Ms. Smith has the audacity to not only admit she hadn't read the novel in many years, but that she was also unwilling (too lazy?) to do a reread before viewing the film. This lack of commitment to the task, as well as an unwillingness to learn more about Fanny Price, makes me wonder hwo good Smith's own book could possibly be? (Really, if the "Lover's Vows" scenes in the film helped Smith's understanding of the novel that much, then obviously, she hadn't read or researched it enough!) Do I want to waste my time reading a travelogue which the author hasn't even bothered to fully commit to the research required? I think not. Ditto with her websites.

I found myself so distracted by Gillian Anderson's lead-in to Mansfield Park that it might have been hard to pay it
very close attention even had it been somewhat compelling. Fortunately, it was not. An actress better suited to playing a Fanny Hill than a Fanny Price must top my laundry list of its weaknesses followed closely by a mean-spirited Sir Thomas channeling the persona of the real Mrs. Norris rather than the one that Austen wrote for him.

But enough about this silly movie.

I cannot hold PBS responsible for ITV's waste of ninety minutes - okay in my case it was closer to an hour - but I have to wonder who wrote Ms. Anderson's opening remarks. I never quite imagined that plain Jane Austen (sigh: she's a woman after all so her appearance must be noted even if we do not have any significant information about her looks) was all along concealing her inner Mary Crawford. Mary Crawford, that narcissistic gal looking to snare a decent living, no doubt sticking pins at night into an effigy of Tom Bertram in hopes of enhancing her
target's net worth. Who knew!?

I am only surprised that she did not call her a frustrated spinster to boot. But there is always next week!

If showing Jane Austen's novels each Sunday thru the Winter months was bait put out by PBS for new subscribers then I think the idea has bombed.
A very few of your critics know what they are talking about; most have done no research; many have not even read the notes PBS provided to go with the series.
I tuned off this swful version of MP, put on the BBC DVD instead.Billie Piper should stick to her pop music !
I am looking forward to Emma and S & S, with John Davis' screenplays because his P& P was sympathetic. I enjoyed the reasoning for his precis of each story.
(Is precis writing a forgotten art not taught in school any more?)
PBS should have started this series with the best,P&P over 2 nights not dragged out over 3; and put the others on in order of merit, then there would be new subscribers before they realised what a con this was.
PS. PBS is still worth watching for it's other programming tho !

Again. Why. Not so awful as this seriesí Persuasion but thatís as damning as faint praise gets.

& again - Itís not like there arenít exemplars out there of what is possible.

The ďrevisionistĒ movie version of Mansfield Park (Frances OíConnor as Fanny 1999) is exactly the sort of interpretation that can be enjoyed as a distinct film experience without having read or liked the book. The revisionist label comes mostly from having incorporated bits from JAís own life and deducing a Bertram family connection to slavery - both of which delighted me.

The 1999 movie danced the lovely line between the genuine feeling of some characters and the arch amorality of others that makes Austenís ironic tone so brilliant and is so often either lost or overplayed in film. Embeth Davidtzís Mary Crawford is one of the best written and tastiest film embodiments of the amoral type in all of filmed Austen.

This isnít about money or time - this is about caring, respect and passion - but first and foremost, comprehension. Without that, well, you get this.

Oh, dear. I'm feeling the slightest need to defend myself. Thanks for the many thoughtful, insightful comments here. Some of them have inspired me to revisit MP. I should say, that I read the book very recently (of course I re-read everything a couple times before writing my own book) but the details are still a bit murky. My review was ever-so-slightly tongue in cheek -- my gut reaction to the novel and my gut reaction to the film, and playing those up a bit to spark a lively debate. I believe it worked!

I'm so disappointed with the Complete Jane Austen so far I could cry. Rather than naming it The Complete Jane Austen it should be named Quick Sketches of Badly Adapted Novels. Shame on you, PBS and ITV.

Lori, I knew that you would find the goodness in this adaptation! Bravo, you made me look at the film again with a new perspective. I have new appreciation for skipping. Cheers, Laurel Ann

I am feeling the need to defend Lori as well. This is a movie we're talking about, and a review of a movie, not a war. I'm sure I feel as passionately about Jane Austen's novels as anyone who loves her work does. Let's not descend into "Fanny wars" here and then project that ire onto one another. See rule #3 under "Post a Comment": "Keep it civil, folks!"

I, too, was very disappointed in the recent PBS version of MP. Fanny's hairstyle and demeanor --although the badminton, etc. was charming and believable-- but most particularly the glossing over of the morality story and the omission of all the humor! Even Aunt Norris was barely portrayed, and that without a smidgen of the obnoxious officiousness that she exudes in the book. While I admit that after my first reading of Austen, years ago, MP was almost my least favorite of her books, a recent re-reading reminded me of the wonderful humor in both the character of Aunt Norris and in the descriptions/explanations of other characters.
Finally, I can understand the complaint of Fanny being a whimp...but there are subtle changes in her as the book progresses: she follows her own mind vs. compromising and pleasing others, she defies the displeasure of her gruff uncle, and has the emotional fortitude to maintain her love for Edmund without public displays of despair or pity. On the whole, I now like Fanny much better than before...although she would certainly not be a vivacious or entertaining friend.

I was so excited when I learned that PBS was going to adapt the six Jane Austen novels. She is by far my favorite author. The first thing I did was to pull out my BBC collection and check the running times of those adaptations, expecting that the PBS versions would be at least as long if not longer. What a disappointment. These works simply cannot be adapted in 90 minutes. Most of the BBC adaptations are in excess of 3 hours and Mansfield Park is more than 5 hours. What are they playing at??. Persuasion and Northanger Abbey were tolerable but Mansfield Park was a disappointment from beginning to end. The actress who played Fanny was completely wrong and the dialog was awful. I was embarassed for her. Hopefully the remaining presentations will be more satisfying. I'm looking forward to Pride and Prejudice, if they go with the Colin Firth version. I've seen it dozens of times and never get tired of it, but if the others are anything like the first three, well that will just be a shame.

I can say that I liked Mary Crawford in this version much better than any other. But like others, if PBS was counting on more contributors they're about ready to lose my money this year. I thought nothing could be as pathetic as Persuasion but this was actually worse. I guess if they would have just called at least the first 3 Jane Austen Lite then I would have been happier. However, they didn't. I am also hoping they don't shred P & P to nothing. That is without a doubt the best adaptation and honestly who can resist Colin Firth?
Like Lucia, I await what Gillian has to say about Jane this week. I know the story is "Jane Austen Regrets"-regrets what-who knows but I'm sure old Gillian will have an answer for us.

There is a wonderful essay on Mansfield Park by Kinglsey Amis entitled "What ever happened to Jane Austen" in which he expresses his dismay at Miss Austen's priggish characters.

I agree with Cynthia Lambert and Julie Rice that this series thus far is a disservice to Jane Austen and to the public who have never read her novels and especially to those who have read her novels.

One of the really memorable characters in Miss Austen's work, Aunt Price, was practically edited out of this version, and remains just a cipher. More attention was paid to showing coaches traveling about than the development of this unforgettable sharp-tounged lady.

There seems to be a need by current adapters to have the heroines romp about. Those of us who have read social history or at least read Pride and Prejudice know that romping about was considered very unladylike (hoydenish to use the slang of the day). Look at Lydia Bennet and the frowns she garnered .

I think writers and directrs of these adaptations should read Lawrence Stone's great social history, Marriage Sex and Family in Great Britain, or at least the more popular Antonia Fraser's The Weaker Vessel. Although Fraser's book is about women in the 16th century, things hadn't changed much by the time of the Regency.

The last film version of Pride and Prejudice exhibited the greatest folly of adapters of classic works, a last scene was added with newly created dialogue -- to think that Miss Austen's own words and plot structure were not good enough.

Thank you PBS! This is why I will donate to you forever! Tonight's showing of Pride and Prejudice will be so wonderful for everyone who has never seen this adaptation will be in for an amazing treat. I was so lucky to be a student in Mrs. Wilson's class who were treated to seeing this before we graduated. This is the best version of P&P in my opinion! I hope that if this is your first viewing, you will understand my comments. And if you in love with this like I am, What a treat!

As one of the freakishly few people who actually seem to like Fanny Price and enjoy the novel of Mansfield Park as it is, I feel I must speak up.

This adaptation was a real travesty and actually manages to now top my list of "bad Austen adaptations", a place previously held by the last Mansfield Park movie that was made in 1999.

I can only believe this was adapted just so they could make a "complete" series, and not because the person doing it actually liked their subject matter. They utterly missed the entire point of Fanny's character - which others here have expressed well. She was a product of her time and of her station in life.

But even leaving the massacre of Fanny's personality aside this adaptation fails with the utter lack of decent characterization of ANY of the characters. The story was rushed through so quickly that you can't even figure out who everyone is before you are meeting someone new or off in a new direction. Of course much if not all of this problem is due to the fact that you can't adapt a novel of this length and complexity into 90 minutes. Too much had to be cut to meet the time limit and, unfortunately, this isn't a story where that will work.

Persuasion was not bad, Northanger Abbey was delightful, but Mansfield Park, which I had so looked forward to, left me changing channels to find something better to watch.

I completely agree with Bernita. Well said!

And how could Fanny's visit to Portsmouth, in my opinion essential to the story and to the development of Fanny's character, take too much time to show? Why not cut out instead the extra 15 minutes of completely invented un-Austen-ish fluff tacked on shamelessly at the end?

Fanny is lovely. I just finished re-reading Mansfield Park and I love Miss Fanny Price. She is an exceptional character. All love and loyalty and goodness. Her love of nature and simplicity and quiet make her the most unusual heroine. While I enjoyed the movie, I must admit I agree with a reviewer on Amazon who said "Will they ever get this story right?" It seems Mansfield Park would have to be a mini-series to be "gotten" right. And Fanny would need to be the frail and quiet and lovely creature she is in the book.

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