At 10, Fanny Price, a poor relation, goes to live at Mansfield Park, the estate of her aunt's husband, Sir Thomas. Clever, studious, and a writer with an ironic imagination and fine moral ...
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At age 10, Fanny Price is sent by her destitute mother to live with her aunt and uncle, Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram. As a child she was often made to feel that she was the poor relation but... See full summary »
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The daughter of a country doctor copes with an unwanted stepmother, an impetuous stepsister, burdensome secrets, the town gossips, and the tug on her own heartstrings for a man who thinks of her only as a friend.
At 10, Fanny Price, a poor relation, goes to live at Mansfield Park, the estate of her aunt's husband, Sir Thomas. Clever, studious, and a writer with an ironic imagination and fine moral compass, she becomes especially close to Edmund, Thomas's younger son. Fanny is soon possessed of beauty as well as a keen mind and comes to the attention of a neighbor, Henry Crawford. Thomas promotes this match, but to his displeasure, Fanny has a mind of her own, asking Henry to prove himself worthy. As Edmund courts Henry's sister and as light shines on the link between Thomas's fortunes and New World slavery, Fanny must assess Henry's character and assert her heart as well as her wit. Written by
I have to wonder if the folks who are praising this film to the skies have ever read the book. I am not a Jane Austen purist - if I were, I could not say that the Root/Hinds version of Persuasion was my favorite Austen adaptation, which it is. This is Patricia Rozema's Mansfield Park, NOT Jane Austen's.
First, Rozema gives us a feisty, spirited Fanny Price, who tells off Aunt Norris and Sir Thomas, who accepts Henry Crawford's proposal, and then rejects it the next day (a la JA herself with Harris Bigg-Wither). In this MP, Sir Thomas deserves to be "told off." He is portrayed as a lecherous "dirty old man," who leers at Fanny and Mary Crawford throughout the film.
We have all heard about the additions Rozema made to the film. She deals with the slavery issue in a very heavy-handed way, beating us over the head with it whenever possible. Tom Bertram is not the empty-headed fop he is in JA's book; here he is just as much an abolitionist as Fanny, and it is his sketchbook filled with incriminating drawings of Sir Thomas abusing the slaves in Antigua that Fanny finds. In fact, Rozema's take on Tom is rather bizarre; in the book, his arguments with his father center around his irresponsibility and his profligacy. In the film, while Sir Thomas tries to scold his son for these faults, Tom takes him to task for his activities in Antigua. What I found odd was that, if Tom is such an abolitionist, why would he be so free and easy with money tainted by the slave trade?
Rozema left out what I consider to be some very important people and scenes. William Price and the Grants are nowhere to be seen; as a result, there is no amber cross bought with prize money, no distress over which chain to wear to the ball, no one to accompany Fanny to Portsmouth. Fanny's dislike and distrust of Henry are never fully explained. We never get to see the outing to Sotherton and, while we do see Maria flirting relentlessly with Henry, we never see him playing one sister off against the other. Fanny's disapproval of the theatricals is never explained either. In Rozema's version, it seemed as if Fanny was simply not invited to be in the play, instead of being unalterably opposed to it. The scene with Fanny playing Anhalt to help Mary Crawford rehearse is also completely wrong. Mary starts caressing Fanny, while Edmund watches with his eyes almost popping out of his head. So, instead of Edmund giving in and joining the play in order to spare his family the embarrassment of publicity, we are left with the impression that he takes on the role of Anhalt just so that he can justify having Mary run her hands all over him.
Next, we have the scenes at Portsmouth. Here, we have Henry sending Fanny a display of fireworks and doves, and then we see her accepting his proposal and sealing the bargain with some less-than-chaste kisses - in public, no less! The (in)famous sex scene between Maria and Henry takes place at Mansfield Park rather than in London and, because Rozema has played with JA's chronology of events, Fanny is already back from Portsmouth, and it is she who catches them in the act. Edmund is present for the aftermath, where Maria tries to defend her actions.
Another thing that galled me no end is that Mary Crawford's defense of her brother's actions is done in person, at Mansfield Park. She is patronizing towards all concerned, including Sir Thomas, who has finally stopped leering by this point. The newspaper item announcing Maria and Henry's behavior to the world is read by Fanny, and the culprits' full names are used, which is also not the way it happened in the book.
A couple of people walked out about 1/3 of the way through the screening I attended, and several others walked out just as the credits began. The Wishbone versions of Pride & Prejudice and Northanger Abbey resemble the source material more than this trash does. Shame on you Ms. Rozema, shame on you!
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