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Ok so maybe you all disagree, but I prefer this old mini-series to the
modern 1999 film.
I read the book before I had seen either, and this version is so much more true to the book. For me that is much more important than modern touches that spoiled the movie.
Even though Sylvestra may not give a good performance as Fanny Price, I find her much more believable as Fanny than Frances O Connor.
The camera work is very dodgey. At the start when Fanny is in the carriage with Mrs Norris, when Fanny is introduced to the Bertrams and when Tom, Edmund and Mary Crawford are walking together.
Mrs Norris is just how I imagined her, and Lady Bertram too. Henry Crawford is not played well I feel, the way he speaks seems all wrong and strange, I think they chose the wrong actor there.
I was struck by the scene where Maria wants to go through the locked gate and sends Mr Rushworth to get the key. This scene is just how I pictured it in the book, it is quite remarkable.
The settings serve their purpose, the house is furnished as you would expect. That was another thing I disliked about the recent movie. Mansfield Park looked like a Fortress inside! All bare and ugly, more suited to Northanger Abbey I feel.
The music was simple, but it was obviously a low budget production.
If anyone agrees with me please say.
Low budget films and television productions have to be accepted for what
they are. That being said, the 1983 Mansfield Park still has a distinctive
on-location look and the cast is uniformly strong - Sylvestra Le Touzel
just the right mix of prettiness and austerity and Nicholas Farrell is
excellent as Edmund.
Where the 1999 film sacrificed the book's moral subtlety for pretty obvious ends (Fanny becomes a sort of pseudo-feminist icon, but of course back in the eighteenth century, before it was cool) the 1983 film contains all the troubled morality of the book - its characters, many of whom are failures in way or another, are presented with sympathy and irony, and the faithfulness of the screenplay is infinitely to be preferred to the 1999 film's racy, but ultimately pedestrian value system.
After watching the more recent movie version of this movie, I must
admit I put off watching this one for fear they would be similar. I'd
read the book years ago and enjoyed it, although not as much as Sense
and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. I finally got around to
viewing this about a month after I'd purchased the box set and was VERY
pleasantly surprised. It stayed very faithful to the book and unlike a
few of the other reviews I read here, I did not find it at all dull nor
did i find the acting lacking in any fashion.
I especially liked the development of the relationships between Fanny, Tom and Edmund. It was neat seeing them grow and mature over the course of the mini-series.
I was also impressed with the interactions between the Crawfords. The characters had always irked me a bit in the story but in this version they came across as more subtle.
If you enjoy Jane Austin's novels, this is the best of the two
available versions of Mansfield Park. It is very true to the book, but
lacks the beautiful production values and outstanding cinematography of
the 1999 version that stars Frances O'Connor.
Fanny Price has always been a problematic character for Austin's fans. Many that read the book when it was published in the early 1800s found her unbearable compared to Austin's other, more spirited heroines. Sylvestra Le Touzel does a nice job in this very challenging role.
The best performance in the movie, though, is Jackie Smith Wood's Mary Crawford. Mary is beautiful, flirtatious, morally confused, good hearted and shallow, all at once. She is one of the more complicated characters in all of Austin's novels, and Jackie Smith-Wood plays her to the hilt. It's a mystery why such a terrific performance did not yield further opportunities, but her career seems to have evaporated after this role.
This is a movie for the more patient Austin fan. The pacing is measured, and the characters, particularly Edmund and Mary Crawford, evolve as the story moves forward. Mansfield Park, unlike Austin's other successful novels, is really about the failed love affair between Edmund and Mary. As a result, it is a more somber read than Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. The wedding at the end is a natural result of Edmund coming home to Fanny as the one stable element in his life.
It's a solid movie with good acting and a complicated plot. It is well worth seeing.
This is unquestionably the best ever adaptation of this book, faithful to the text and faithful to the feeling of the book. Sylvestra le Touzel is appropriately mouse-like and really embodies the real Fanny Price, (one of my favourite Austen heroines). She displays that transcendence of flesh that Austen uses as a metaphor for stability in an increasingly precarious situation, both for the estate and for the individuals associated with it. More recent adaptations have tried to make Fanny more capricious and human... but that is not what she is about. She represents the rise of the diligent lower classes to dominate the corrupt aristocracy, of merit over money, and morality over license. She and Edmund are the eventual winners, custodians of their inheritance, when all the favoured children have fallen into sin and temptation and proved themselves unworthy. Fanny Price is not so very different from Jane Bennett, Anne Elliot or Elinor Dashwood. I don't understand why so many people find her character "difficult"
This is a gentler, truer version of jane Austen's novel than the appalling
1999 film and I am thankful for that !
The casting could have been done with more thought and the whole
would have welcomed a larger budget but - overall - this version remains
yardstick by which all others should be measured.
Fanny Price is, despite the actress chosen to play her, essentially the heroine of the book and it is her views, fears insecurities and morals which are pivotal to the story. Judgmental? No, i think not. The fact that Fanny does speak out against the play and Henry Crawford shows the strength of her misgivings. Anyone who finds her insipid has either not read, or not understood, the book and should look again.
In this day of fast paced films and often nonsensical dialogue, this adaptation may seem a little slow at times, but it is worth persevering. To dismiss it as mere period drama does the novel an injustice, and it should be viewed with the thought that you are watching through the window if history. women had no real value or input. They were expected to marry well and breed the next generation, personal ambitions were rarely mentioned or taken seriously. Although, indeed it could be argued that, despite all the education or freedoms of the present day, quite often books, Tv and films still convey the message that women are nothing if they do not snare a man - a dire reflection upon society.
Of the actors involved, many were good and others less so which often happens. Was amused by the fact that Jonny Lee Miller appeared in both this version and the 1999 film. A welcome link
I will agree with others that the production value of this mini series
is a bit low. The acting is very stiff and is some places just
unconvincing. For users of digital televisions the picture and sound
quality is very low, but understandable since this production was made
in the early 80s.
The thing that amazes me most about this rendition is how faithful it is to the book. If you loved the book, then you will also like the movie. I'm sure the costume designer and casting directors looked at the old Hugh Thomson illustrations. This most noticeable in the characters of Henry and Mary Crawford.
Lady Bertram is very much like she was in the book -except for her voice. I found it very odd! Rather overdone in my opinion. Mr Yates had a very strange hairstyle as well.
The locations and set were very nicely done. Sotherton and Mansfield Park are very much like the way I pictured them. There was one scene in Portsmouth where there was a matted background with ships. That was rather cheesy looking but it was the only scene that I was less than satisfied with.
This production lacks the polish of BBC's Pride and Prejudice (1995) but it is worth seeing for the serious Austen fan.
It's true that this version is a bit long and should only be attempted by real aficionados of Austen's work. I prefer it to the 1999 version, but someone looking to be entertained for an afternoon ought to look elsewhere. I didn't mind the actress who played Fanny as much as everybody else seems to. I won't praise her acting, but found it not much worse than anyone else's. She looked the part so much more than Frances O'Connor and played it with the necessary timidity that the other actress completely ignored. Edmund, I thought, looked all wrong for the part. I suppose this is a debatable point, but I felt his features were too old and his expressions too severe. Edmund was meant to be serious but warm. It is a subtlety that I felt, unfortunately, neither he nor the 1999 actor got right. The worst choice was Henry Crawford. His portrayal was so off and confusing that I found it hard to focus on the rest of the film. The actor played Crawford so flamboyantly that it is hard to imagine he made so many girls fall in love with him. Those are all of my real complaints; otherwise I found it an enjoyable, faithful adaptation of a wonderful book.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
On the surface, sitting down to watch this miniseries, I can understand
why the modern viewer (accustomed to film instead of videotape, and
filming budgets and schedules that go more for locations than sets)
might think this Mansfield Park a little dated and less than exciting,
but - on the other hand - it was made twenty-five years ago and
arguably still has something about it.
Fanny Price, admittedly, is not the most wild or exciting of Austen's heroines. She isn't self-centred and a bit spoilt (as Emma Woodhouse is), she isn't the brave soul who doesn't think twice about walking three miles and turning up muddy at grand houses (as Elizabeth Bennet did at Netherfield) and she doesn't flout convention and leave herself open to gossip and potential ridicule when things go wrong (as Marianne Dashwood did).
Yet the key to Fanny - well played by Sylvestra Le Touzel, I think - is to see how others see her as a walkover. Everybody - even her own brother - seems to want her for their own devices. When the issue of marrying Mr. Crawford comes up, you want to scream for her - nobody believes she is serious about saying no. Lady Bertram (who sounds as if she is possibly slightly under the influence of some kind of drug all the time) manages to be casually manipulative. The other aunt, Mrs. Norris, is such a hypocrite - when things come to a head and Maria and Crawford cause scandal, she has the front to say it's Fanny's fault for refusing to marry Crawford. As Sir Thomas points out, it is Mrs. Norris' neglect. It is good to see that somebody respects Fanny's moral standards. Although wordy, the dialogue used by the aunts is very Austen-like - they start out intending to do one thing, then talk themselves out of it and feel good about the result. Perhaps this isn't the most dramatic adaptation of Austen's work, but the biting edge of her writing is still intact, however nicely dressed up.
Fanny's brother is no better - he says he is glad she is coming home, but all he wants is to utilise her "nice upbringing" to make their home better. Her family talk to her - seeing that she gets in out of the cold and making her tea - but it's all superficial. She has been away for years and nobody asks how she is, what interests her, whether she likes it at the park. She is very much an overlooked character and in this adaptation you cannot help but sense that.
One strong point is the costume department. There is a good distinction between Mary's ultra-fashionable look and Fanny's simple wardrobe and plainer hairstyle. And yet, looking closely, without changing her hair, Fanny looks comparatively more decorated and dressed up when put next to her sister Susan at home. The older ladies - while trimmed up appropriately if wealthy - keep to the 1780s clothing and hairstyles that they must have worn when young whereas the younger women have more up-to-the-minute empire line looks. You could say that the colours of clothing are quite drab and uninteresting, but this probably period-correct as the Regency made the pale colours of the classical period very fashionable and artificial dyes had not been invented. Similarly, the choice of furnishings are excellent - contrast the laden tables at Mansfield Park with the simple china and the tin plates of the Prices' home.
Overall, although not as exciting perhaps as the 1999 film version, this adaptation is much more faithful to the book and I think takes more time over the subtleties of the plot.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I love watching these old BBC adaptations you feel that all sins
dodgy makeup, some slightly stiff acting and static camera-work are
atoned for by the mere fact of them having bothered in the first place
to devote so much, and such proper, attention to one of Austen's more
Fanny Price, eldest daughter of a large, poor naval family, comes as a child to live with her wealthy aunt, the wife of a baronet, Sir Thomas Bertram of Mansfield Park. She grows up with her cousins and has a share in their adventures in love and marriage, firstly as an observer only, and later, more directly, and sometimes more painfully.
Austen's heroine must come across as rather insipid today small wonder that Patricia Rozema's feminist (and fantasist!) reworking of 1999 made such wholesale alterations to plot and character. But writing Fanny off as too pale, too quiet, too good is a mistake: it is her upholding of her goodness and character against very powerful forces that renders her morally strong.
Some of the bleak force of Fanny's situation is necessarily lost in the mists of time. In the early nineteenth century and beyond, the 'lucky' children of large families were packed off as often and quickly as could be arranged, to whatever rich relatives would have them. The poor cousin thus situated had often very different prospects than the children of the household they were accepted into; and for a poor cousin's benefactor to smile on a proposal of marriage was tantamount to a command to accept it. Fanny's refusal of the proposal made to her therefore constitutes a significant rebellion on her part: very brave, and very feminist, despite Fanny's high, small voice and tears. In this Sylvestra Le Touzel does a remarkably effective job in a difficult, complex part. I liked her as I confess I had not much liked Fanny Price in the book.
Edmund as played by Nicholas Farrell was decent, not handsome but then he's not really meant to be. I found Jackie Smith-Wood's Mary Crawford excellent; making a very sympathetic character from difficult material. You easily understand why Edmund finds her so attractive, despite the faults he sees in her. Anna Massey's Aunt Norris is perfect just as irritating and interfering a busybody as you could wish for. But as with other reviewers here, I found Robert Burbage's Henry Crawford insufficiently fascinating for the romantic damage he is to do though quite unappealing enough for Fanny's dislike.
Forget the great license taken by Rozema's big, blustery version; this one does Austen's writing justice, but perhaps hasn't been treated kindly by time. NB if you like Jane Austen you may want to check out Whit Stillman, an heir to Austen if ever there was one, whose excellent, brittle 1990 "Metropolitan" includes a very funny diatribe on "Mansfield Park".
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