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The Complete Jane Austen "Persuasion" by Victoire Sanborn

Masterpiece Classic

by Victoire Gerkens Sanborn

As I sit at my computer contemplating what to write about Persuasion, I am quaking from the top of my blond Dutch bob to the heels of my sensible Aerosols. Yikes! I have been asked to contribute my thoughts about the first episode of what promises to be an eight week-long PBS cinematic love fest with Jane Austen.

I will leave it to my esteemed fellow bloggers, who have been chosen to write about the other installments of The Complete Jane Austen series on Masterpiece Theatre, to write knowledgeably about our popular author. I will simply relate my personal impressions.

I must admit that when I first read Persuasion as a young girl, it wasn't my favorite Jane Austen novel. Compared to Pride and Prejudice, which I read every year, Jane's last completed novel, published posthumously by her brother Henry in 1818, is short and dreary. I felt little affinity for mousy Miss Anne Elliot or dashing Captain Wentworth. But then I began to meander down life's unpredictable paths. With maturity came the realization that one's journey through life is not self-determined; it is fraught with second-guesses, instances of regret, and decisions based on wrong information. Over time I began to appreciate Persuasion's themes of loss and redemption. Now, as a woman of a certain age, I consider it my second favorite Jane Austen novel.

In the movie, actress Sally Hawkins portrays Anne Elliot with a sure and delicate touch. Upon first viewing, her subtly nuanced performance escaped my full appreciation. At the start of the film, Sally presents a sad and stoic Anne, a spinster who has lost her youthful bloom and still regrets her decision to break off her relationship with Captain Wentworth eight years before. Anne, dressed in drab dresses and wearing a severe hairstyle, has taken herself to the sideline of life: baby-sitting her sister's children, playing the pianoforte for impromptu dances, and catering to her vain father and selfish sisters. The film's dour music echoes Anne's unvarying life, which promises endless days and nights of dreary repetition.

In the movie, Sally is frequently shown writing in a journal, an effective technique to allow us to get inside Anne's mind. We learn of her trepidation about meeting Captain Wentworth again. Through her writing, we also learn that she is a strong and unsung heroine. In fact, her family cannot seem to function smoothly without her sensible and no nonsense approach to life. It is interesting to note that, in her letters, Jane Austen described Anne as someone who was almost too good a person. Anne's situation as the novel opens so closely resembles Jane's own life that I am tempted to ask: "In what ways does Anne represent Jane?"

When Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth makes a brief appearance at Uppercross Cottage, the viewer has already developed a deep empathy for Anne. Using only subtle facial expressions, Sally Hawkins manages to fully convey Anne's awkwardness when she unexpectedly encounters the Captain, and we squirm for her when, clearly ready for marriage now that he has made his fortune, he begins to court the Musgrove sisters. As the plot in this all-too-short movie unfolds, Sally Hawkins manages to blossom in front of our eyes. Enjoying the fresh sea air at Lyme Regis, her expression brightens, her cheeks start to pink, and her movements become more determined and energetic. Even her wardrobe appears subtly more colorful, so that by the end of the film we begin to understand why Captain Wentworth fell in love with Anne in the first place.

Anthony Head as Sir Walter Elliot plays a suitably pompous fop and cold-hearted father, and Alice Krige is credible as the interfering but well-intentioned Lady Russell. Rupert Penry-Jones is a handsome, age-appropriate Captain Wentworth, even though I found him to be a little too pretty and pale to play a weathered naval officer. While Rupert is given some major scenes, especially one in which the Captain describes the sort of woman he is seeking in a wife, his speaking role seems too slight to do justice as the hero of the story. Tobias Menzies as William Elliot is given such short shrift that, unless viewers already know Persuasion's plot, they might well mistake him for a good guy until Mrs. Smith unmasks his slimy character. This movie fairly whizzes along, and before we know it, our 90 minutes with the Elliots and Musgroves are up. We have barely gotten to know the Crofts and about the life of a naval officer which forms such a strong backdrop to the novel.

This brings me to the film's problematic ending. I could have tolerated this shortened film version of Persuasion better if the director and writers hadn't contrived to show Sally Hawkins sprinting through Bath at a full clip. No proper Regency Miss would be caught dead running around town like a common fishwife, let alone be seen in public kissing a man. Ok, so I get it. The film makers mean to convey that this time around Miss Anne Elliot would let nothing stand in the way of her getting her man. But, sheez, did they have to prolong our agony by making poor Anne race towards the Crofts only to find out that Captain Wentworth was nowhere around? I felt my heart pound unnaturally fast as I watched this diminutive actress huff and puff her way back to the starting gate before she almost collapses in the arms of the Captain.

I found a few other details about the movie bothersome: the absence of the conversation between Anne and Captain Harville, which is the key plot point that triggers Captain Wentworth's declaration of love in a letter; Mrs. Smith seen wandering around town (isn't she too weak for such exercise?); Elizabeth Elliot's (Julia Davis) lack of outstanding beauty and looking almost as old as Sir Walter; and Amanda Hale's almost cartoonish interpretation of Mary Musgrove. And, finally, how the deuce did Captain Wentworth manage to purchase Kellynch Hall for his bride? Did he come to a secret arrangement with William Elliot? All these changes to Jane Austen's original plot beg the question: Why do directors and script writers feel the need to tinker with Jane's plot when the changes do not result in a superior film?

To give the film its due, Sally Hawkins gives an affecting performance, and the dialogue sparkles with Jane Austen's wit and insights. With all the movie's faults, I can think of no better way to spend a pleasant hour and a half on a Sunday night than to watch this new version of Persuasion on PBS's MasterpieceTheatre.

Comments

I agree a lot with your review. I was also disturbed by the fact that Wentworth could purchase Kellynch, it makes no sense at all. I also thought that Mrs. Clay was way to pretty, she was almost one of the prettiest women in the movie. I though Amanda Hale was funny enough, but she seemed somewhat dimwitted in a way that doesn't remind me of Mary Musgrove from the novel. Her voice and manners don't match Sally Hawkins, so they didn't seemed like sisters.

Julia Davis looks to old for the part, and she could've been even more annoying and snobbish for my sake!

But: I did love the Musgroves and the Crofts, very good casting. It annoyed me that Henrietta and Louisa didn't looked so much a like. Charles Musgrove was also vey good, and a nice comic relief. I've always imagined him a bit more heavy set though.

Sally Hawkins is the LIGHT of the movie! Her facial acting is amazing, and she is very very good. I also think Rupert Penry-Jones was a nice choice, both in looks and age - though, as you point out, he could've been more sailorlike in his skin. But I do like that he is a different type than Colin Firth and the actor from the 1995 Persuasion.

Overall: a very nice movie, though I would've liked to see a mini-series in stead.

I agree with much of what you said. I only have one short comment, who said Wentworth purchased Kellynch..he could have just leased it from Anne's father.

well, I was excessively disappointed in this version. Why did they have to scramble all of Jane's carefully placed scenes around - especially the key conversation of "loves best when all hope is gone" which Capt. Wentworth is supposed to overhear? I thought the actress playing Anne - not to put too fine a point on it - was rabbit-faced and bland. Amanda Root in the movie did a much better job. Mary Elliott Musgrove was too tentative and not obnoxious enough. For me, a great disapponitment. I must conclude that BBC has lost the knack of staging good drawing room comedy.

Fiona, it might be important to note that this was not a BBC production, but rather an ITV production. Whether or not your conclusion is invalid is another discussion topic entirely.

After reading the novel once and then seeing several adaptations I now have limited expectations. It's like having to chose a single meal from a rather large buffet table, you just can't have it all. I enjoyed a good deal of what was served up but some of it was just silly, like the ending. And yes, the letter was a disappointment.

Still, Hawkins shone and others were very good, if somewhat lightly drawn. The camera work was certainly different and only occaisonally annoying. While the running was a bit hyperbolic it served well to draw a couple points about Anne's character; she is determined, and she is no ordinary 'Regency Miss'.

Just about any adaptation of Austen's work I take as a treat so I have little to complain about and a lot to be pleased with. I certainly won't turn down an opportunity to see it again.

Watching a screen version of any of Austen's books is getting the "lite" version. Jane's carefully wrought plots and conversations are, generally speaking, trimmed, rearranged or eliminated in order to allow the camera to show what the books illuminate.

In the ITV version of Persuasion, I think it would be difficult for people who had not read the book already to follow the Clay-William Elliot subplot. Instead of that interminable 10 minute run around Bath, we could have seen those two together, as Anne did in the book. We should also have been apprised in the movie of William Elliot's villainy concerning Harriet Smith's income from the Jamaica properties. We are given no real reason to believe her, particularly when the formerly crippled woman is shown parading around Bath. Until she started her speech, I did not know who she was.

But, as someone else has already said, the actors were excellent; Sir Walter was as marvelous a toad as I could have wished for, and it is always lovely to see a well-loved story brought to life.

Even lightly.

Unpersuaded -- that's how the members of my Austen Book Club and I felt at the end of the movie! We felt the novel was given short shrift. The pace was frantic, and nearly all the dialogue expository as a result. The Crofts were whittled to practically nothing! Mary was ridiculous, the Musgrove sisters indistinguishable, and even Wentworth was a little wooden. Sally Hawkins tried hard, but all the handheld camera work didn't flatter her, let alone all the running! And did anyone else notice that she stared *directly* into the camera at the end of each scene? Unsettling, not compelling.

In short, a disappointment. The Amanda Root - Ciaran Hinds movie version is far superior, and by comparison the Ang Lee version of "Sense and Sensibility" is a towering masterpiece of Austen adaptation. If they had the money to shoot on location in Lyme and Bath, they should've held out for a better script!

We are looking forward to the PBS biopic, "Miss Austen Regrets," and of course another viewing of the Colin Firth P&P, but we're very wary about the other films...here's hoping for improvement!

I had been looking forward to watching Persuasion and was prepared to love it. Instead I was disappointed.

First of all, the filming techniques were terrible. I do not care for the jostling about of handhelds and many closeups were out of focus. Sally Hawkins looked straight into the camera several times for effect where once would have been enough. My husband said the movie looked low budget. Good camera work would have immensely improved the quality of this production.
The story itself was watered down significantly but if time were the issue, why oh why was Anne running around Bath for several minutes? This was only one of the many plot changes.

Humor was almost non-existent and the atmosphere was at times very grim.
The actors themselves were quite good but most were not given the opportunity to let their characters develop. However, the scene where Captain Wentworth bumps into Anne in Bath and they have their first real conversation was very touching and gives a hint of how good this movie could have been.

The letter seemed almost an afterthought and I was so disappointed. Only the ending of that famous quote of "Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman..." was voiced. Sigh.

I was also unfortunately disappointed in this adaptation of Persuasion. Several have mentioned the long, overdrawn scene at the end with Anne running through Bath. I would have to add to that the beginning, several minutes of Anne walking through Kellynch as furniture is being covered. I literally thought to myself, if this is only 90 minutes, why are they spending so much time doing this? To me, and I'm sorry to say, Sally Hawkins did little for Anne's character. I could not see why Wentworth loved her in the first place, and how he would still love her. I saw only a minor improvement in her features at Bath. I just wish, when these adaptations are planned, that they take more time. Why not 2 hours? Why not a two part 4 hour version? I hate being disappointed when it comes to Jane Austen and I fear I will be when the others are shown.

As a woman with a degree in Women's Studies, I looked forward to viewing this short piece-unfortunately it was wrapped up with some very gaping holes of plausibility. Austen's works evoke so much more and interweave subtleties of societal commentary, and of course angst within the womens world. I felt the movie did a decent job in forwarding this feeling and spuring one to revisit her classics. Its a given that redo's rarely do the author satisfying justice. But what really riled me was the running ticker in my mind that "...almost nothing is known about (Jane Austen)..." from the new Commentator Jillian Anderson. Come on!

I enjoyed the commentator Gillian Anderson. iwished it had been longer with more set of the story and smmation at the end. Enjoyed Persuasion more than i thought I would.

Excellent review of the film!

I wish they hadn't done that to the ending.

Jane Austen develops her characters through clever dialogue and wit. Since this adaptation raced through the book and skipped over much of that, the characters were flat and had no connection. You really didn't even care what happened to them by the end. I wonder if you had not read the book if the movie would make much sense because you started to question what the Captain's attraction to Anne was. It actually left you hoping the dashing Captain Wentworth would get on his big black horse and ride off to something better! Jane Austen's Anne Elliot, although reserved, is an intelligent and strong woman. This Anne comes off as simpering and unable to put a thought together. Other problems, just to name a few, were omitting most of Wentworth's final letter, the running and the pathetic kiss in public. Did the writers of this adaptation think they were improving on Austen? Very disappointing.

It's difficult to see how any literate producer could have approved this mess. If you didn't read the book, you had no idea of who was who and what problems were driving the plot. And if you had the book, you were most likely not going to like this production because of all the unnecessary and unhelpful changes to the storyline. Well, I guess this monstrosity can be used as a case study of how NOT to convert a novel into a film, or to paraphrase from another film adaptation of JA, "It was badly done, PBS! Badly done indeed."

One of my co-workers and I are Jane Austen fans, and we eagerly anticipated enjoying the film versions of her work promised by Masterpiece Theatre.

To say that last night's airing of Persuasion was disappointing would be an understatement. One has to wonder if the screenplay writers actually read the book in its entirety. Much of what is loved most in Miss Austen's work is missing from the teleplay.

The Amanda Root-Ciarin Hinds version was much better, and certainly stayed true to the original book; something that last night's translation was sadly lacking in.

I'm hoping the rest of the new translations are better than this first one.

I have to agree with previous comments about this version being disappointing, both in its dramatization and treatment of the novel. The ending played out like 1950s Hollywood melodrama, with the lead actress way overdoing her Quivering Lips School of Acting part (not her fault, but the director's). This whimpering character was almost out of place in this story. I also agree that juicing up period pieces with modern camera techniques does nothing but detract from the story. The language of these stories is very rich and should not be played down in favor of "new age" cinematography. Maybe I'm missing the Merchant and Ivory style!

Honestly, this was terrible. It was as if the writer and director hadn't bothered to even read the Cliff Notes version of the novel. Significant dialogue and scenes are consistently cut or hurried so that the plot is nearly incomprehensible, the humor is lost and Sally Hawkins spends an hour and half being slack-jawed and glassy-eyed by way of displaying Anne's emotional range. The most infuriating thing about this 'adaptation' is that it doesn't inspire anyone watching it to actually read the book, except by way of catching the numerous and egregious errors. A major disappointment for any fan of the novel.

I appreciate being able to read other viewer's thoughts about last night's airing of Persuasion.

I was disappointed with this version, especially because I love the Amanda Root film version. Although Sally Hawkins conveyed Anne well, I was not happy with the directorial and script choices.

The speed at which last night's adaptation moved made as much sense as Anne running through Bath!

I do hope the other adaptations are more promising.

I love jane austen, she is a fantasic author... I think all the casting was wonderful...only anne was very plain compared to the handsome mr. wentworth...it almost seemed as if they would not be a good match apearance wise...they could have made her up alittle better because sally hawkins is very pretty in all actuality. some havve commented on differences between the sisters and I recently read something that said that they have to cast sisters carefully so that they don't look ridiculously different but also look different enough that the audience does not get confused about which character is which...if I wouldn't have read that a few days ago I would have thought the same thing about henrietta and louisa looking like bipolar opposites
over all a great movei I'd like to purchase it...!!!

all the action was crammed into the very end of the movie. that was alittle disapointing...but I did enjoy the movie. I do agree that sally hawkins spent alot of time starring into the abyss...but over all a good cast

I loved the it!!!

Apparantly I am the only person in the world who doesn't read the book first and then watch the movie (which is NEVER as good as the book). Things have to be changed and cut out to make a book in to a film. Having said that, I did find it a little fast paced and confusing. I spent the first 30 min trying to figure out how Mary and Elizabeth fit into the Eliot family, and why Elizabeth looked as old as the father.

I loved Wentworth!!! I thought he was wonderful, absolutely adorable. So what that he didn't look weathered!! He is GORGEOUS!!!

I am going to buy the movie and read the book.

I agree with the earlier post which stated : The Amanda Root - Ciaran Hinds version is far superior. If any of the other films are produced by ITV I may just pass. It is a shame that something so anticipated can leave one feeling so unsatisfied. Did I just see the cliff notes version of Persuasion? One of my favorite of the Austen novels has been whittled away. Persuasion tells the tale of the underdog. The woman who is so dutiful that she neglects standing up for herself and finds out quite late the cost. I would implore to those who enjoyed this production to either pick up the novel in their local library or to see the 1995 version. The effort will be worth the experience.

Ciaran Hinds to this day never appears so attractive to me as in Persuasion and with Ms. Root they were the perfect pairing. The current Captan and the current Anne don't appear as well matched. And the others were right to comment on the Captains pale pallor. One cannot hold the current actors responsible for this disaster. This was the work of those who offhandedly produced this so that they could in turn produce something else they apparently placed all of their attentions. It appears as if the producers cared quite little for Ms. Anne Elliot or Ms. Austen for that matter. Poor production.

A hot mess! Liked Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot hated everything else, especially the running scene at the end.

Like many others here my appreciation for the movie waxes and wanes given the certain specifics at hand.
Overall I enjoyed Hawkins portrayal of Anne - though in my opinion she did not give Anne the strength that was present in Austen's novel. Anthony Head's version of Sir Walter was excellent. It lacked the simpering quality I have seen in other remakes; rather than seeing him as a pompous ninny he appeared a vain, perfidious tyrant. Penry-Jones' version of Cpt. Wentworth was wonderful in his noticeable battle between resentfulness and the tender feelings he still harbored for Anne, but I do agree that in regards to his aspect he was not ideal for the part of a sailor.
The cutting of the story and the ending left me feeling a little divided. I understood the reasoning behind the "chase" scene and the rearranging of various elements in the original story, but could not fully appreciate either simply because it seemed to almost flout what I feel are key elements in the story, i.e: Anne's docile temperment and the pivitol conversation between Harville and Anne that Wentwoth overhears. You also don't really get to know the background that pertains to Mrs. Clay, William Elliot, the Crofts, or the Musgroves leaving the plot almost to singular to resemble anything of Austen's vivid delineations and lively interplay of character.
However, when taken at face value without regard to the original - the story was entertaining and well-played by the actors, and I look forward to watching it again in the near future.

Having not read the book I found much of it confusing, Also, couldn't understand the speakers that well. I will however, continue watching the series because I enjoy Jane Austen. Having been to Bath the sights were familiar...

I am not sure that the book I have read numerous times was the same book and author that was shown last night on Masterpiece Theater. Many things were taken out of context, things left out that were very relevant to the story, it was a complete disaster. And to have Anne running around Bath at the end was ridiculous. The only character that came over as believable was young Mr. Elliot, shifty but believable. I hope we can expect better for the remainder of the series as people who have not read Jane Austens novels or who have not seen the much better films and TV series are going to be turned off completely.

I enjoyed the movie, as I do ALL of Masterpiece theater's performances. I haven't read the book, but was able to follow along with the characters and plot without too much difficulty. I do have to add that I enjoyed the recent episodes of Jane Eyre much more. Looking forward to next week.

Very disappointing. Commercial t.v. making this version appears to have used actors that that were inexpensive; the actors & acting were lousy Sally Hawkins looked positively adonoidal with mouth gaping open most of the time.
The writing was atrotious, made up of perceived Austen one liners that were juggled, often delivered without making much sense. I doubt people who do not know the novel would bother to read it after this rendition; people who know the book will want to pull their hair out.
WHy brag that Austen's books are 200+ old and still popular and then butcher them ? The B.B.C. did the job better.

Being a big Jane fan, I agree with every comment, Victoire made. The film started out very promising, but went increasingly down hill once it started deviating from the book's crucial scenes. I got the feeling that the writers started with good intentions, but then ran out of time. They should have stayed true to the book at the end of the film instead of at the beginning. They ruined the climax! Persuasion has, in my opinion, the best romantic, heart rending climax of all time. The story is so painful, but then finally, when Capt. W comes back into the room with the letter and gives Anne that "look" and she sits down to read the love letter of all love letters - HOW DO YOU PRODUCE A FILM CALLED PERSUASION WITHOUT THAT MOMENT??? It's almost blasphemous! Like I said, BIG Jane fan! But as Victoire said as well, it's still the best way to spend an hour and a half on a Sunday evening =)

I'm actually quite shocked to read so many harsh critiques of this movie. Especially when you consider how boring the book is. Turn this into a mini series like some have suggested and you'll put us all to sleep. Let's keep it real here...the story doesn't have the meat that Pride and Prejudice has. 90 minutes was long enough to cover the subject and short enough to keep it interesting.

Given what the writers had to work with and compared to the Amanda Root - Ciaram Hinds version, it is much more colorful, less boring, easier to follow, less cheesy, has a better soundtrack, and lets be honest...the cast was much better to look at!

Indeed it did have faults, the majority of them I can live with. The only things I found troublsome was the cinemetography at the beginning. I was getting dizzy. Also, I hoped that Anne's hair and costume would improve as the movie progressed as they did with Amanda Root.

It wasn't perfect, but it wasn't terrible either. On a scale from 1-10, I give it a 7.

I was very disappointed. I didn't like the new format - just giving up the name 'Masterpiece Theatre' bugged me. Now it's "Masterpiece" - new branding? They throw away a brand that was loved by millions of people in several countries, for a 'new look'. Please! I loved the former set with the richness of the room, books, momentos of past shows, leading up to the host sitting in a chair who lays out some of the plot. Having Gillian on a red backdrop just wasn't the elegant setting (at least to me) for an Austen setting. What were they thinking? And she looked horrid. Fire the makeup artist who did her face that day!

The specific program last night was also disappointing. I loved the sets, homes, grounds. However, I did not like Sally Hawkins. She just didn't seem to be the right fit. Now, I did LOVE Rupert Penry-Jones. He was as brooding as he should be, and wonderfully stoic. I also thought the Father was mis-cast along with others. Just a poor production, IMHO. The last 30 minutes was so disjointed that I thought "what is going on?". Since everyone has already mentioned Sally looking into the camera I won't belabor that point - but goodness, what in the world were they thinking?

And - what is with the camera work? Surely when shooting such an anticipated Austen production you would think they would use the very best camera techniques, not some 'artistic' or some producer's idea of good camera work? What a severe disappointment!!!

I didn't like it either. It was far inferior to the Amanda Root/Ciaran Hinds version, which was so carefully crafted. I could not bear Sally Hawkins. Her face was constantly quivering in an annoying way (yes, I know she was trying to convey intense emotion) and I thought it made Anne look stupid, especially during the (anachronistic) kiss at the end. It was rushed, I didn't like the sprint through Bath, etc.

Well, I hate to be an old fuddy duddy who likes nothing new, but I can't understand why so much money was spent on this Jan. 13 version of Persuasion when the Amanda Root production was so superior and could have been re-run. The young lady playing Anne did OK, but competing against Amanda Root's performance?

Anne was intelligent and very self-confident, but last night's character spent much of her time casting her eyes downward so she didn't have to look anyone in the eye. That wasn't Anne. And so on and so forth.

We have watched the Amanda Root performance I think 6 times, but we wouldn't watch this one again once.

Anyone who had already watched the older production would have been very pleased to see it again. Those who had never seen it would have been done a great favor.

I have been a fan of Persuasion for years, and the Root/Hinds adaptation is a special favorite among the Jane Austen adaptations. So, along with most everyone else who has posted, I found myself disappointed (albeit not bitterly) in last night's production. My least favorite moment of the whole thing: The seemingly interminable approach to The Kiss. Ugh! It was long enough that my husband and I had time to give each other the look (you know the one) and comment on how annoying it was. Really, anticipation is one thing, but it is quickly stale.

Anyway, I'll still be watching in the coming weeks, despite the event starting off with rather a pfiff than a bang. Even mediocre Jane Austen is better than the majority of the dreck on TV!

I agree with the comments that this was a rushed version of the book. As a result the chemistry between the actors didn't develop as well, although I was still enthralled.
I am soooo grateful to PBS for this series because even a less-then-perfect Austen is a treat.
I will watch all of them beginning to end.

First of all, watching anything Jane Austen is superior to watching just about anything else, and one can't hope to compress a novel of hers into two hours; BUT there are major disappointments in this version, my foremost one being in the kiss (way too quivering and fish-like). In the Amanda Root/Ciaran Hinds production, the kiss was the wonderful culmination of all the tension and angst and waiting the two had both endured; it was the point to which the whole production had led. We didn't even see Captain Wentworth in this kiss scene! Also, this movie did what the movie version of P & P (with Kiera Knightly) did: It added a completely unnecessary ending scene. They could have used these minutes to develop some other aspect of the story more.

I personally thoroughly enjoyed all of last night's Persuasion...the acting, beautiful period scenes & countryside of story. It's always difficult and sometimes quite unfair to compare acting styles of previous versions. I found it was enjoyable to just sit back watch excellent TV. Sally Hawkins was superb as Anne and Rupert Penny-Jones, as Captain Wentworth, was absolutely the MOST handsome, brooding character...he was definitely worth wanting.

Did the photographer/camera man read the book?
Austen talks of the brightness of Bath; the brightness of the November day when they go to Lyme. Why didn't the crew look for buildings that had been cleaned of 200yrs of grime? Why did we have to look at a gale force wind on the Cobb ?
Did you know that Anne's costumes from this version have gone into a museum in Bath ? Why would anyone want to see them, they were all so drab.
B.B.C. forever !!

I have not read the book and while I do think I saw the older movie - I don't really remember it. So, this version was confusing at times. I originally thought the eldest daughter was Sir Elliot's second wife and they had a daughter. The actress was too old looking. So, that assumption made much of the movie very confusing for me. Loved Rupert - he made my knees weak. I think they could have been less subtle in perking Anne's looks up, once Wentworth was back in the picture. Any woman - even if she thought she'd never get him back - would want to at least try. Some kind of balancing act of wanting to look prettier and less severe - without drawing attention to that fact would have seemed a natural thing.

I did like the camera work - it helped establish her thinking when words weren't possible. Such as feeling off kilter when she was plunked on the back of the carriage and the folks up front were talking about setting up the eligible girls. Or even at the running scene at the end - the overhead shot was great. But, I agree, she never would have run around that way. Not knowing how long the movie was - I wondered at about 1:15 into it if it was 1:30 or 2:00, since I had just gotten sick of them not getting together. I knew they would, eventually. I'll have to read the book to get the rest of the story.

Also, at the end, I wondered how he was able to give her the house. And what happened to the cousin who had rights to it...

Good review, Victoire, my blogging buddy! Oh, one little point - you referred at the end of it as PBS Hallmark Theatre. Having worked at WGBH, I feel obligated to point out that it's Masterpiece Theatre. Looking forward to seeing more!

I expected a new film version of this story to contribute some unique look at the familiar story, but I can't fathom any reason for this remake. It relied heavily on the Amanda Root-Ciaran Hinds version for much of its staging, using some of the same inventions. I thought to see some little episode neglected in the other version, or a dramatization of one of the endings as written. My overall impression is that it was a remake of the earlier movie, not a new presentation of the novel, inferior in casting, costume and camera work.

And I, too, was disappointed to see Anne running around the town (impossible enough!) without hat or gloves!!!

CSI-style camera work was tiresome. More and more camera-work uses this trailing camera technique and it's a bit bothersome to me. It feels like I need to steady _myself_.

Also, so many scenes were shot at closer range. My husband actually thought I had used the Zoom feature on our HDTV. I'm sure the cinematographer meant to have us more intimate with the characters. Maybe I'm just not used to it.

I think I do need to read Persuasion again. 8D

to contunue what my computer sent before I was finished:
...the BBC production of "Persuasion" even had "Steven" from "As Time Goes By" playing the young widower in Lyme!

I liked everything, absolutely
everything in this adaptation.
Sally Hawkins is really top of the line.
Yesteraday I watched
masterpiece...

to contunue what my computer sent before I was finished:
...the BBC production of "Persuasion" even had "Steven" from "As Time Goes By" playing the young widower in Lyme!

This production was dreadful. A lot of it has been said above, but let me add to the criticism: Anne Elliot was a strong-willed intelligent woman attractive woman who temporarily "lost her bloom" but regained it. Sally Hawkins played her like a post-stroke patient with poor control of her facial muscles who had an underlying hysteria syndrome.
Salient conversations that are supposed to be overheard by key characters lose their impact when they take place in the wrong place at the wrong time between the wrong people and couldn't possibly have been overheard by the key character because he was at the other end of a loud table.
This production felt like Fox decided to produce Austen and got some American Idol producer to re-do the script. I have trusted PBS to give me good costume drama for years, but on the Austen series, I'm out (until they run the Firth/Ehle P&P) because the others have been made by the same production company.

I was disappointed with this version. It was far too short and left too many unanswered questions.

Am I the only person who thought the open-mouthed kiss at the end was creepy?!?

Well, many of the posters may choose to ignore this input once I state that I am an aging, nerdy engineer who is very ignorant of classical literature. While I have wanted to broaden my reading, there always seemed to be too many technical journals to keep up with. Not to mention being lazy!

That said, I totally enjoyed this program. No, I have not read the book and was thus unaware of the many changes, deletions, additions, etc that several posters have noted. I still found it to be most entertaining and well done. I have no problem with the physical appearance of the actors and really regret that several posters have taken what are in my opinion cheap shots in that regard. Ms Hawkins was the out front star for me. A wonderful job on her part. Anne and her portrayer may not be raving beauties. But, am I incorrect in guessing that was one of Jane Austen's points? There is a beauty in people beyond the outward appearance? Oh well. Guess I missed my calling as a lit major! :)

Still, this program has caused this old engineer to want to watch all the rest of the series. Even worse!! I am headed to the library to check out Jane Austen's books.

Tom

I've only begone to explore Jane Austin's novels. I would think it helps to read the novels before viewing the movies. Persuasion was interesting, but so many people were involved, it was difficult to keep "families" straight. I found it difficult to belive that after being involved eight years ago, Ms. Elliot and Cap. Wentworth couldn't of had some retrospective conversation. I can't imagine meeting up with a love of long ago and not asking,"How are you?" Of course, this is not Victorian England...

While I enjoyed the new version of Persuasion, I was also disappointed in it. First of all, why only 90 minutes -- and by the time they did all the introductions, credits, etc. it was actually much shorter than that.
I have to begin by saying that I was really irritated when Anne's speech about the constancy of men and women became part of her discussion at the dinner table at Lyme. In the book, Wentworth overhears Anne and Harville talking and then writes the letter to her. This scene was created by Jane Austen as part of her rewrite of Persuasion specifically to improve the strength of the story. Why would anyone want to second guess her?
As for the new version of the reconciliation, I guess since the writer used up the conversation about constancy earlier in the story, he had to invent a different way to explain how Anne and the Captain finally get together. The result is those rather silly and inappropriate scenes in which Anne is running all over Bath.
I did not like Sally Hawkins at first but she did an admirable job and I finally came to like her as Anne. Rupert Penry-Jones is gorgeous and did a great job (what a change from his role in the TV show Spooks/MI-5), but he definately did not look as if he had spent even a day on the deck of a ship. His pale complexion was too perfect.
As for the portrayal of Mary Musgrove -- it was awful. Where did that insipid laugh that the actress used several times come from?
Finally, what to say about the ending that was added! There is no way that Wentworth could have purchased Kellynch Hall -- lease it maybe but not buy it. He was rich but I don't think he could have afforded it even if Mr. Elliot was willing or able to sell (which I don't think he would be considering it was entailed to the younger Mr. Elliot).
This was such an opportunity to do something really remarkable and as far as I'm concerned, the BBC missed the boat. They usually do such an amazing job so I am quite surprised. If Andrew Davies did all of the upcoming adaptions, then we may have some more disappoints to look forward to. He did a fantastic job with the 1995 Pride and Prejudice -- so why isn't Persuasion as great?

The problem was that I knew the story as Jane Austen composed it and saw the numerous shortenings of the plot and the almost breathless rush to get started. Even the fall at Lyme on the Cobb was a rushed action scene. I really think the screen writer missed the climax by eliminating the conversation between Capt. Harville and Anne which was over heard by Wentworth and resulted in him composing one of the most beautiful proposals in any print anywhere. Finally, I just decided to overlook the hall that the Capt. purchased for Anne and assumed it was some other fancy establishment. With all this departure from the novel, I think the actors deserve a well done for trying to give us viewers an enjoyable experience. Thanks to them.

I have never posted or written to a TV site before, and was looking to contact PBS about this production because I thought it was shockingly dreadful, and cannot believe PBS approved of this or put it on the air under their name. I was fully prepared to love it, I am a huge PBS supporter and love JA, and I kept waiting for something, anything to turn this production around but sadly it was 90 minutes of my life that I can't get back! I still can't believe it; I am reeling, PBS! What happened??! As others have said - there was little to no dialogue from Anne or Wentworth; instead Anne's involvement seemed to be limited to never-ending gaping looks and wounded faces throughout. I did not enjoy the casting at all (very much out of place) or development (there was none!) of any of the other characters. I thought running through the streets was bad enough, but then to see that horrendous bizarre kiss (if you can even call it that) at the end? Anne looked as though she was being asked to eat or smell something vile, and it just went on and on - I had to change the channel for a few minutes, I couldn't watch the quivering anymore! And then we see Anne and Wentworth at their home, and that's it - so? Very anti-climactic, stilted, disjointed; the focus was lost on the whole point of the book - persuasion, and how it may or may not affect a person, etc. This was just a long, drawn out boring saga of waiting to see Anne get together with Wentworth, irritating the viewer the entire time. I almost felt like I was being asked as a JA reader to simply recognize points here and there from the book or that maybe because I am a PBS and JA supporter I would "forgive" or "understand" this version - if I was new to PBS, I would change the channel, quickly, and you certainly would not entice me with your fund drive based on this production, that's for sure. Thank goodness A&E's P&P will be on soon, and I hope the production of S&S doesn't fall flat as this one did. Sorry if this sounds too harsh, but this was not the usual PBS quality program. I am going to go pop in the Root/Hinds version to help erase last night's disappointing mess from my mind.

Kelcee (and others) - thank god someone beat me to it!!! I think this film had potential. But it needed more time. I think breaking into two 90 minute showings would have allowed it to be developed to hint more so at the evil mis-doings of the younger mr. eliot, or the rekindling of the wentworth/anne relationship. The abrupt shift from distance to renewing of affections made me wonder if those doing the editing have attention spans as short as my eigth graders!

I thought the casting was pretty solid though. Anne was excellently cast, Hawkins ideal in look and ability for the role.

Though I remarked to my dogs, "now that wouldn't have happened" when the kiss occurred, I see it moreso as a concession to the expectations of those who are coming of age with movies today. Its the closest they'll get to sex - so you have to make it somewhat grandiose.

Well, I for one was estatic at the thought of PBS showing all the Jane Austen books in movie form! I seriously immediately called my mom and sisters and sent out an e-mail to all girls in my address book telling them about it.

I thought Persuasion was very well done. I really liked the part that Wentworth wasn't aware that everyone thought he liked Louisa, but he actually didn't like her at all. (Actually that really didn't make much sense since he spent every second with her, but still I liked it.)

I also really liked that you could tell that Wentworth still liked Anne, because in the other one, you really couldn't. I liked that Anne showed her distress and heartbreak - which would be a normal reaction for someone watching the one you love falling for someone else before your eyes.

The person who thought of the Jane Austen Masterpiece marathon should get a raise! And of course be my best friend.

WAY TO GO PBS!!!!

melinda o my gosh yes the kiss at the end was weird!!! I was like get on with it already!!! yes ye wentworth is gorgeous....but sally h did portray anne a little differently than she should have...much more reserved...but I liked the movie...and the casting was pretty good...

I loved the colors and the scenery, although I did have a deja vu moment when the walking party looked up over the knoll at Charles Hayter's house, that was exactly the shot I remember from the 1995 Amanda Root adaptation, and I had several more of the same flashbacks from the scenes at Bath. I didn't put together that Wentworth had bought Kellynch for Anne, I thought he was just buying her a big house - shows how implausible it was in my own mind that he would ever be portrayed as doing so.

I was freaked out too by Mrs. Smith tearing through Bath explaining Mr. Elliot's shortcomings to Anne, was quite worried that she'd drop dead of a heart attack given that Anne had gone to see her in the first place because of her delicate health.

I thought Sally Hawkins would have been lovely if she hadn't heaved, wilted and shaken so much. I was disconcerted by the quivering lips thing as well and felt quite violated by the weird kiss at the end. I was watching the movie with two girlfriends, all of us dressed in our pajamas and clutching our tea uncomfortably wishing it would just go away. Very awkward.

I don't like the change in the title Masterpiece Theater, and I missed the music terribly, and I missed the books/study/chair. Most of all I missed the weighty truthfulness the BBC productions in Masterpiece Theater have rendered, and I did feel like there were lots of corners cut and popular trends acquiesced to in an effort to reach a broader, but less invested public; that said, I was grateful that the color red still made it into the backdrop with Gillian Anderson narrating. I was glad she was there as a representative from the Bleak House production, which I LOVED.

All in all, despite my anxiety that a great, great PBS program will get watered down and even lost, I am planning to watch the other productions and am glad that someone recognized that Jane Austen's work is worth an entire season.

The heinous plot changes (especially deleting the overheard Harville- A. Elliot conversation) were fatal flaws. And the added scenes, well, as many have noted, tHe running and kissing scenes and the final "wedding gift" scene were ridiculous. I am glad that Jane Austen was spared having to see it.

One thing that bothered me that few have mentioned is Anne's hair--it was pulled back so painfully tight and all those little curls must have taken so much time to fix. Anne Elliot has too much sense and too little vanity to wear such a painstaking hair style, as well as too much natural taste to wear something so ugly. NO wonder S Hawkins quivered and squinted so much-she must have been in physical agony after the hair stylist finished with her.
Finally, it was sad that there was no chemistry between Anne and the Captain--there was more chemistry between Anne and Captain Benick (in their brief moments together, they sparkled) and between Captain W and Louisa. I was almost wishing that they would switch partners in the
end and Anne would run off to sea with Benick.

S.H's portrayal of Anne made me realize how brilliant Amanda Root was in Persuasion.

There is much validity to the above comments as well as the initial review, even though some are contradictory. One hopes that those seeing Austin for the first time will, nevertheless want to see and read more.

Even though British class consciousness is one of Austin's major targets, there was a certain heavy handedness to the way it was presented in this version.

Just a shout-out to the posters out there: the three Jane Austen dramatizations (Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park) shown on Masterpiece were produced by ITV, NOT the BBC. Sense and Sensibility is by the BBC.

ITV is a different channel in the UK from BBC.

The only other Austen film productions I've seen are the recent Pride & Prejudice with Knightley, and the film about Jane Eyre, with the actor William Hurt. (sp. of "Eyre" might well be incorrect... please pardon if this is the case). Sadly, I've never read a single Austen novel. I was looking forward to this whole Austen series because reading has always been something I find extremely difficult to find time to focus upon. Even I, knowing nothing firsthand from reading anything by Austen, knew enough about the time, knowing Austen's reputation for her knowledge of etiquette, laughed out loud at the chase scene and kiss at the end. Rupert may be nice on the eyes, but he can't portray passion. It's like he wanted the actress to pull a tendon trying to stand tall enough to meet his lips. You'd think if he loved her, he'd bend down a bit, what?
From reading the reviews of those who have read Austen's works, I quite agree: a lot must certainly have been left out, because I found myself wondering why Wentworth would have felt so bitter, and why he didn't act a bit more grieved that Anne seemed not the least bit ruffled by his coming back into her life. If more had been included in narrative, as opposed to rather boring shots of Anne writing in her journal, it would have benefited those who hadn't read the book. After reading all the blogs, I want more than ever to see the earlier film, as everyone seems to prefer it. And I want to read the book to fill in the gaps. If anyone reads this and cares to reply, I'd like advice on which Austen book to read after Persuasion; or, is it best to read them in some sort of order? Thanks for any advice.

Thank you one and all for comments regarding Persuasion. Those of you on the Hinds/Root team make place for me as well.It was and is the superior version of this wonderful novel.

I was so disappointed last night. What a stew: a hero that didn't look or behave like a military man; a sniveling heroine whose hair was pulled too tightly; her cackling sister who looked as old as her father, why, it was too much to bear.

Most offensive was "the quivering kiss". I put my hand over my eyes until it was over. Never would a woman of Anne's time, and station be caught running through the streets of Bath as if she had on Nikes and was competing in a 10k. And it would be impossible for her to ever be out without a hat and gloves. Run out of a concert in the midst of Society? Never!

What were the filmakers thinking? I conclude as many of you did that perhaps they did not read the book. Who devised the ending? for what purpose?
Really... taking liberties with the author's plot was distasteful and unecessary. Anne was one of Jane's most patient, introspective and insightful characters. What did they do with her last night?

In spite of the criticism a night with Jane Austen in any form (and that includes Pride and Predjudice with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier) is far superior to time spent with most everything else on TV. Thank you PBS.

I will return next Sunday for Northanger Abbey. Perhaps I'll have time during the week to be cleansed by the movie version of Persuasion. Or better yet re-read the book.

A "masterpiece" this Persuasion is not!

This past year, I re-read all of Jane Austen's books. I have always enjoyed JA for her masterful character development and her wonderful, witty dialogue. Why-oh-why did the screen writer have to chop and rearrange the story so drastically and incoherently? Time limitation? Catering to younger viewers who are used to fast-moving camera action similar to video games? As some bloggers have mentioned, this version of Persuasion must have been adapted from Cliff Notes. However, Cliff Notes are more thorough in their synopsis.

I totally agree with previous negative assessments of this movie. Sally Hawkin's Anne Elliot was so insipid and Amanda Hales' Mary Musgrove was deranged. I was so annoyed by these two actresses that I couldn't pay attention to anyone else. The one thing that caught my attention was that the fish-eye camera lens made everyone ferret-like.

I was really looking forward to some new JA adaptions. I was so dissapointed at this rendition. I hope the rest of the movies will be different and better.

For those who liked this version of Persuasion, please read the book or at least watch the 1995 Root/Hinds version. You'll discover a more touching/poignant depiction.

For Courtney, I think you would enjoy Pride and Prejudice immensely. It is a very witty book.

In the early part of this production it was possible to waste time having Anne fall on the walk, almost as distasteful as the kiss. The script lost Anne's importance to the Musgroves. Manners were more important even than morals in those days. No one understands the class difference between a ship's captain and the daughter of a nobleman, he is only now acceptable because of the money he has made - the persuasion to initially reject wentworth was more than her young age and his ability to survive.
All this is lost in order to be more hip, but Jane Austen does not need to be more hip. The reason the root/hinds version is superior is because they stayed true to the spirit and the content of the Novel. They did not mess with who said what to whom or when. I loved the root/hinds version and reread persuasion immediately to look for deviations - i could not find any. The scene at the musgroves where everyone confides in Anne was brilliant. I had hoped this would borrow that script. Oh Well, as in all the books one must hope that the next one will be better, or we'll just enjoy the griping later.

Without saying all that's been said, I want to know who is resoponsible for deciding how long this adaptation was to be? The screenwriter must have been told the limitations of time so he/she was working within those limitations. I feel badly for whomever this was. I blame the money providers- producers? How can we blame the actors if what they are handed is a chop job?

Masterpiece? Shame on you. Get the Theater back and act like the respectable showpiece you once were. You had a reputation for excellence. If the other productions, exactly the same length, 1 hr and 26 min., are as chopped up as this you may lost yourself a viewer. You should have higher standards than this.

I'll usually look for Jane Austin material wherever I can find it. But whoever did the film editing did not have continuity in mind when it was done. The Austin novel elements were there: the sensible heroine, the charming rogue, parents who seemed to have no sense whatsoever, supporting female characters who were as silly as they come, and many male characters who don't need fleshing out. But it was as if these elements were imposed on the film, not an organic part of it.

The new "Masterpiece" opening is, quite simply, depressing. The hint of the "Rondeau" and the practically unrelieved red background is a disappointing change from its book-lined, artifact-strewn ancestor. It was a giant step backward. That wonderful actress, Gilllian Anderson, woodenly delivered a telepromptered introduction that could have been done without.

And the writer of that very brief intro was quite wrong: there is no mystery to Austin's popularity. She is one of the few novelists who has an almost instinctual sense of the written and spoken word. It is a rare gift, given short shrift by the screenplay of Persuasion.


Let me add my vote to the return "Theatre" to Masterpiece. I have been a MT fan since my first apartment post college in the, ahem 70's. Yes, my first TV was Black and White!

From the first note of the theme music I just allowed my self to go. Beginning with Alastair's and continuing with Russel's comments and insights I learned about the author and the literature of the book that was the basis of the program. Inspired, I discovered new worlds which included Catherine Cookson,Jane Austen, the Dutchess of Duke Street, explored Ancient Rome and post WWII England. Jane Tennyson and I began our careers at the same time.

Sinking next to the moderator in the library, surrounded by shelves lined with classics and tables full of items from the programs momentoshelves of classics and tables with artifacts. Immediately, I was immersed in a different time and place full of wonderful new people.

What was up with Gillian Anderson?Her wooden reading of the inane, inacurate teleprompted comments was was startling.
Come on PBS... you can do so much better. Please restore the magic to the Program. That lackluster introduction followed by the pathetic Persuasion adaptation caused me to shake my head. Instead of rushing out to read Jane I fear that people will change the channel never to view Masterpiece Theatre again.

Please, oh please. Restore the magic PBS.

( Hands extended in heartfelt supplication)

I walked away from the movie wondering if anyone working on the movie read the book - or more importantly felt the great passion in the book. I didn't feel that during the movie.

If posters want a truer look at Persuasion, they should buy the DVD PBS is offering in their package deal of all Jane Austen's stories. This 1971 Granada TV (England) make has been remastered/ colorised.It keeps very much to the book as published in 1817.Well worth a look !
This disasterous current version and the Roots/Hinds one include different takes on the "missing" chapters, neither of which are as Jane Austen's wrote them.Easy to check if you follow the links from www.pemberley.com

I enjoyed the “Persuasion” adaptation overall. However, the story’s pace was not even - the beginning third was slow and the last third rushed. What seemed strange was that Cousin William Elliot was far more charismatic and kind than Capt. Wentworth (who seemed far too young and unweathered to have survived several years of being at sea, at war, on sailing ships in horrendous conditions), and Anne was animated and smiling only in William Elliot’s presence. There was more chemistry between Anne and William Elliot than between her and Wentworth. In THIS adaptation, Elliot was far kinder to Anne than Wentworth ever was, except at the end, so Anne’s choice seems odd. Also, the rushed revelation by Mrs. Smith of Cousin Elliot’s “perfidy” was given no basis beforehand in the characterization and lines given to Elliot to speak, or in the plot line. It seems that Anne was too easily “persuaded” of Mr. Elliott’s totally inexplicable change in behavior (which kind of vitiates the point of the story about Anne’s maturation). And why did the PBS presentation delete William Elliot’s mysterious first entrance (you can see it on YouTube) when he strides across the seawall at Lyme, so that the audience (and Wentworth) can see that another man is immediately drawn to Anne?

I also have a problem with the ending. Aren’t the estate and Kellynch Hall entailed on William Elliot? How, then, does Wentworth buy the Hall for Anne as a wedding present? As I understand it, back then, it was almost impossible to break an entail.

The gentleman speaking in the background was very annoying to me -- particularly at the beginning of the show. I felt like the presentation was being "dumbed down." I love Jane Austin's work -- only either let me watch it or read it -- I didn't enjoy the combination in this Persuasion. The Amanda Root/Ciaran Hinds version was much better.

I agree with those who said that this version was pretty awful and the version with Amanda Root much better. I didn't like either of the lead performances much. The lead actors were fine much of the time, but they both seemed to lack a certain air of maturity and dignity that the characters have in the book (and in the earlier film version.) The actor playing Captain Wentworth in this production was too young for the part, and half the time in his performance Captain Wentworth came off as a sulky teenager. I agree with the comments that Anne comes across as inarticulate (vs. just reticent) -- maybe even all that bright -- and that Sally Hawkins' performance relied too much on open-mouthed lip quivering. By the end, when she did the open-mouthed-kiss-*while*-lip quivering thing, it almost made me want to laugh. That was some feat! Some of the minor performances -- Sir Walter and Mary Musgrove in particular -- were too broad I thought. So I decided to blame the director for the bad performances and everything else I didn't like about the movie.

Although I like Gillian Anderson in general, I don't like her as a host so far. She's so obviously reading someone else's words from a teleprompter, as someone else mentioned, and I agree that the commentary doesn't add much. I'm not sure if Alistair Cooke wrote every word of his own intros, but at least you had some idea that he was expressing his own ideas, and you knew he knew a lot about literature.

I was part of a focus group at my local PBS station maybe a year ago or so about possibly retooling Masterpiece Theatre, and one thing they mentioned is that they are trying to appeal to younger viewers. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but this wasn't a very good first entry. I almost decided not to bother with the rest of the series, but I did watch Northanger Abbey tonight and that restored my interest. That, and seeing that they guy who directed this installment isn't doing any of the other ones.

I agree with the reviews above, the Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds was far superior. The story was far to quick a pace, if you didn't already know the story you would be lost. I was most surprised with the ending. Captain Wentworth would of never bought Kellynch hall for Anne. Anne would not of wanted that, and there is no way her Father would of sold it to a military person. He was far to vain for that and disliked the military. It just made for a very disappointing start to the Jane Austen series.

I love Jane Austen's novels and have been rereading them since teenage years (a future English major). There was a definite sinking feeling as I watched Persuasion, and then a definite clunk as I watched Northanger Abbey. I could go on at length but find myself simply summing up what I would have said: The novels have been gutted, and have all the heart and soul of screen plays based on CliffsNotes. No doubt they will make a nice bit of money for Masterpiece Theater.

This production fails the first test of mounting any new interpretation of Austen - or any other classic for that matter : does it have something better, deeper or at the very least fresh to offer? After the incomparable Amanda Root/Ciaran Hinds version, Persuasion may the hardest re-make to justify, and I found it hard to believe that anyone who saw that version could have signed off on this one and slept.

All I can think is that the producers were more dedicated to making a pretty matching "complete" set to sell than in a respectful exploration of an inspired and passionate writer. Given the history of directors, writers and actors who given a chance have done just that, there is no excuse for such a lack-luster project.

To paraphrase Mrs. Bennett from P & P "you do not know what I suffer with my poor nerves but then I am not one to complain".

Well.....ok yes I am. Did this one get on my nerves? Let's just say I agree with almost all of the above postings and leave it at that. However I will say that even so-so Jane Austen is better than no Jane Austen at all. But then I am not one to complain.... :)

I was able to watch only the last few minutes of the movie on Sunday evening, I was very confused as to this being Persuasion as written by Jane Austen. I winced at the end of Anne's run when she bumped in to Wentworth and Musgrove. When I was able to watch the whole movie the next day, I was distracted even more with the choppy camera work.... the journal shots felt more like reality tv than olde England.

I actually didn't mind Sally Hawkins so much, but I absolutely agree with all the comments about the rushing around being distracting, the camera angles being strange, and Wentworth not looking like he spent time out in the ocean on a boat. And the comments about Mrs. Smith running up to Anne to tell her about the dastardly cousin without the previous history why Mrs. Smith would even be 'in the know' from the fact of her deceased hubby having had a disastrous relationship with said cousin is an important bit that should not be left out, as well as the comments about the scene where Wentworth overheard Anne and Harville and then wrote Anne the love note and indicates to her by his look for her to come read it. This was wonderfully done in the Hinds/Root version. I also agree with the comments about Anne's elder sister. One of the things I did remember about Persuasion was that her eldest sister is supposed to be drop dead gorgeous. NO version I've seen of Persuasion has had an actress that portrayed the eldest Elliot sister that way - she's supposed to be incredibly beautiful which is part of the reason why she and their father, also supposedly very attractive, are obsessesed by their looks. I always thought it would have been a hoot to see Ian McShane play Sir Walter and someone with young Liz Taylor or Jane Seymour's kind of beauty portraying Elizabeth. That would kind of help explain that they do have some reason (not that it's good) to be obsessed with their looks because they had looks that were worth taking a look at. The 1971 BBC version which is in the Jane Austen DVD collection that I got at my local Costco is a very faithful adaptation of the novel, though done as the older ones were on a TV stage. It has a fairly nice looking Elizabeth, Anne is attractive but has obviously aged from her sadness, and the Captain is also very believable. AND that version keeps the conversation between Anne and Wentworth after she accepts him and they walk along and discuss what was going through their minds that is in the novel intact. So I recommend that version to people who really love the book as a faithful adaptation - maybe slower and not as cinematically appealing as the Hinds/Root version, but a nice version all the same. Certainly superior in it's faithfulness to this novel than this one was. This was ok - just wouldn't be the version I would watch if I wanted to watch the NOVEL filmed.

Not bad. Nothing to the BBC version but not bad.

I honestly say that I loved it. It now is a close second to Pride and Predice. Rupert penry Jones- ( Mr. wentworth)was teriffic and I find that he was truly believe in this character. I did think he was acting, and Sally was great the tear and the running around. I have now watched maybe 10x. I love jane Austen and this Movie I feel is 1st rate.

I agreed with the foregoing comments. I enjoyed the film, but I was disappointed (especially in the ending). The thing that I wanted to add to the discussion is that I bought the DVD, and I discovered that Masterpiece (nee Theatre)cut about 10 minutes from the adaptation. The complete running time of the movie is about 90 minutes without introduction, previews and other commercials. That upsets me. Since when does PBS sacrafice quality to fit a show into a time slot.

“Persuasion” has long been my favorite of Jane Austen's novels, and the version with Amanda Root and Ciarin Hinds first introduced me to her work. I was greatly looking forward to this series and completely disappointed by the first: the mangled retooling of my favorite.

In all honesty, I don't even know where to begin, except to say that much of the wit, acerbity, and observant characterizations that makes reading Jane Austen such a delight were missing.

The members of Anne's family lost their ridiculousness and were merely boringly horrible. I was most disappointed by their indifferent portrayals.

Lady Randall's tendency to forgive the foibles of the titled and her resultant ill-advised biases toward Mr. Elliot were instead portrayed as merely uninformed.

Anne's early rejection of the not-yet-Captain Wentworth, which had the mark of good sense when Anne was young and titled and he was untried and undistinguished was portrayed as a lack of will and being easily influenced. This, Jane Austen shows us is the good Captain's opinion until he overhears his sister and Mrs. Musgrove's discussion of the latter's daughters' choice of bridegrooms, at which time he reverses that opinion. Here, instead, he is vindicated.

I understood the need to cut much due to time considerations, but I fail to see why many of the subplots were not omitted instead. For example, the most time-consuming of these subplots were Mrs. Clay’s insinuation into the Elliot household and William Elliot's courting of Anne. Tied together, it would have been easy to include the characters as the means of moving the plot forward (Mrs. Clay to explain why Anne stayed behind at Mary's, and Mr. Elliot to spur Captain Wentworth into action). This would have would have been sufficient, and more importantly would have eliminated the need time to explain and unmask the underhanded game each were playing as well as the several visits with Mrs. Smith. The relationship between and deviousness of each could have been simply introduced and explained via the device of allowing the audience to overhear relevant gossip.

And the absolutely ridiculous ending which featured a sweaty, disheveled, wet with rain Anne sprinting through the streets of Bath was annoying beyond description. Initially, I was reminded of an alternative ending for the story (I'd read it in some book about her writing years ago), but was quickly disabused of that notion within moments.

All in all, I found it to be a loud, disjointed, confusing film with none of Jane Austen's wit, and if I had seen this instead of the 1995 version, I would never have been inspired to read the book.

Thankfully, in spite of much apprehension and trepidation, I watched Masterpiece's subsequent "Complete Jane Austen" films and was pleased to find they gave me nothing but pleasure and opportunities to reconsider works of which I had previously been dismissive. Particularly delightful was the soulful “Miss Austen Regrets.”

The best (admittedly not by much)adaptation of any Austen book is the 1995 "Persuasion" with Amanda Root and Ciarin Hinds -- but the mid-nineties saw the best ones -- all great and praiseworthy -- "S & S", "P & P" and, don't forget "Clueless".

So it is hard for any of these new presentations to improve on near perfection -- and they haven't so far -- but that's not a complaint.

This most recent "Persuasion" has two lovely scenes -- that aren't in the book -- I loved the scene where Anne meets Captain Wentworth again for the first time and he gives her a cold look and she can only say (to her younger sister,"You were away at school..." and that is the end, everyone else leaves to go hunting and Anne looks at the camera and gives us this look, and then she is seen writing in her diary about the meeting and a tear drops on the page... It is this overwhelming emotion that is being held in by Anne that I love about "Persuasion" -- all those years of regret and longing and love -- and there is no way for her to express or show it.
The other scene which I love (and isn't in the book) is near the very end, after the scene where she is running thru and ends up kissing Capt. Wentworth on the streets of Bath -- where again she is sitting at her desk writing in her diary and she looks up at us and gives us a sweet smile -- it's such a lovely, little smile that is made to represent all her joy and it works for me.
Oh, and why not that very last scene where she gets her family's house as a wedding gift -- it's not in the book -- but it's so romantic that I let myself be swept up.

Thank you PBS for Masterpiece. It is one of my favorites on television.
My first viewing of ITV's Persuasion was a disappointment since I had just read J.A.'s book for the first time and declared it my new favorite novel!
However, after watching it a second time on our local PBS station recently, I would now say as my grandmother used to say, "It bears acquaintance." It has gotten better.
The subtle acting of RPJ, as Wentworth discovers that he is still in love with Anne and then struggles with his jealousy of William Elliot, holds your eyes to the screen. Of course, his good looks do the same thing! RPJ looked just the way I had pictured Wentworth as I read the book.
Sally H. was just right as Anne, but I feel that she was hindered by the costuming and hairstyle. Anne's creator described her as "pretty" and "elegant" although no longer youthful. Why didn't the director, costume people, etc. respect Jane Austen?
Ms. Hawkins was made to protray Anne as too "mousey" and drab.
The proscenium arch was broken when "Anne" looked into the camera during her journal scenes. Not good.
The run through Bath at the end and the way-too-long approach to the kiss greatly detracted from the breathless climax Jane Austen wrote for Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth.
A longer movie that would allow for less tampering with the book, such as the P&P mini series would reap much better reviews.
Nothing in any novel that I have ever read has taken my breath away like Captain Wentworth's letter in Persuasion. This letter should never be edited or deleted from any movie made from this book.
Please, oh please, someone listen to all the blogs and make this movie again. Even use the same actors, especially RPJ.
All in all, with its shortcomings, I love the movie and will buy a copy soon.

I just saw the movie tonight, and I have to agree with the complaints about plot changes. While I realize that not all plot elements translate well when writing movie scripts, Anne's speech about love enduring even when hope is lost and Wentworth's subsequent reaction to that speech make for THE CLIMAX OF THE STORY. To toy with that scene, breaking it up and leaving out key elements is to rob the story of its power, and it does a diservice to Jane Austen and those who are loyal Austen readers. What you have left is a nice little (moderately enjoyable)film full of undeveloped potential. How disappointing!

This just aired in Australia. What a complete and utter shocker.

What really annoyed me, apart from the complete butchering of the climactic scene where Wentworth furtively writes the letter to Anne 'you pierce my soul etc', was the completely inappropriate inclusion of elements of the unpublished chapter which replaced the 2 last chapters of the published edition. IE the contrived situation where Wentworth is sent by Admiral Croft to confirm the rumour that Ann is to marry Mr Eliot.

To all the screenwriters who obviously workshopped this and thought that along with the Dogma-style camera work, such a plot twist would be a fresh and interesting take on the classic: JA knew what she was doing, she's a better writer than you and there was a very good reason that she left that chapter out and re-wrote the ending.

Oh and the dying-fish-kiss really confirmed that I'd just wasted 90 minutes of my life that I would never get back.

It was my first time watching Persuasion and enjoyed it enough to get the Dvd, and watch it again. To my surpise, whilst I didn't enjoy SH's performance the first time, it really grew on me and as for Rupert's Captain Wentworth - he makes me wish I was Anne!
Thanks to RPJ, Capt.Wentworth is my new Mr.Darcy... Although the story wasn't strict to the book, I still fell in love with this version..

It wasn't colin Firth but Ciaran Hinds who played Captain Wentworth in Persuasion 1995.

It wasn't Colin Firth but Ciarán Hinds who played Captain Wentworth in Persuasion 1995.

My main problem with "PERSUASION" has more to do with the original Austen novel and not this latest interpretation of it.

I find it disappointing that some people cannot get past Penry-Jones' looks and use them to judge to his ability to portray Frederick Wentworth.

And I find it interesting that many have not been able to spot the main flaw of this story . . . which I believe originated with Jane Austen.

I did not like this version WHATSOEVER. It was very choppy...and I believe it was so choppy because the directors wanted to make a shorter version of the story. However they failed in my opinion by leaving a lot of the storyline out.
Also, I don't think the actress who played 'Anne' was good for the role. She didn't even LOOK like an Anne (compared to the actress who played in the 1995 version).
The end of the movie (when she was running the streets) was MUCH too long in my opinion. And honestly I considered it quite unnecessary. Also the 'kiss'...oh my goodness! Why did it take so long to kiss? If they believed it was more romantic that way, I believe they utterly failed.
All in all, the only reason I liked the movie was for the GEORGEOUS music, and the actor who Mr. Wentworth. I believe he played his role very well.

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