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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
Persuasion and other rants

Before I go off on the main rant for this morning, I want to say that I'm about to hit Rodney McKay citrus allergy overload. And I feel a rant on that subject coming on, but I'll do my best to avoid it.

But here's the main rant.

Jane Austen's Persuasion

Masterpiece Theatre is, apparently, playing new versions of all of Jane Austen's works. Tonight's, and the first I've seen, was a 90 minute production of Persuasion.

And I hated it. A brief summary of the plot of the book goes like this - 8 years ago, Miss Anne Elliot was persuaded to not marry a young naval officer. Now they're in each other's company again, and although there are others who wish to marry them, it all ends well. And, yes, this is what happens in the movie.

However - not only is most of the wit and language gone, they made Anne this dull, plodding wallflower through out the movie. Yes, those of you who read the book know that, at the advanced age of 27, she'd lost her "bloom", and was considered plain and dull in the beginning of the book, but by the middle, when they're at Lyme - she's back to being pretty and vivacious. Mr. Elliot, her conniving cousin, would never have courted her in Bath had he not been struck by her there. She had a handsome older sister who was equally available and would have been far more amenable to his attentions.

But in this film, that never happens. She remains dull and unregarded except when she proves to be more practical (and medical) minded in emergencies than anyone else. She spends a lot of it crying over the fact that Wentworth seems to love someone else - even in a scene where in the book she was proud she'd maintained her countenance.

I'm also bothered by pacing details - in less than a week after their meeting and her injury, the "someone else" - Anne's brother-in-law's sister - manages to fall in love with and become engaged to a man who was still grieving after his own lost love. And there's no reason for it. Time can pass with a word and a phrase in a film. "We've been here for two months, and Anne has been with Mr. Elliot almost every night of it."

And, well, little details. Anne's friend Harriet Smith is presented as an invalid with a nurse, but Anne literally runs into her in the street. And...well. A lot of charm doesn't happen for a particularly charming book with a grown-up romance in the center.

Current Mood: unhappy

Well, that's a cryin' shame!

I know! They're doing Mansfield Park in a couple of weeks, and I'm afraid that they'll make Fanny everything that Anne wasn't.

Oh, my goodness. I just found out that Billie Piper is playing Fanny.

And that's...Billie Piper is a fine actor. She's utterly brilliant as Rose on Dr. Who. But.

NO. Just. No.

Edited at 2008-01-14 04:45 pm (UTC)

Thanks for the warning -- I shall stay away in *droves*. Persuasion is my favorite Austen, and experience shows it's one of the hardest to adapt for the screen.

Yes - it and my true favorite, Mansfield Park, are hard to do.

If I recall, in the novel one of the reasons Anne was dissuaded from marrying Wentworth was because he drank and was abusive (to a ... previous wife or something?). By the time she met him again he was sober and repentant. It was kinda disturbing to me how they scissored out that little detail and made it seem that the lack of money and social standing was the only reason for the objection. Wentworth's previous difficulties made the objections more plausible, the choice more difficult and the decision more moving.

Just my opinion.

*Elliot* drank and was offensive to his wife.

Wentworth was never married and was a perfect gentleman.

Absolutely agreed. After thirty minutes, I started channel surfing from boredom, and even though I watched the last half hour straight through, I couldn't possibly have cared less about either one of them. A pity, since I love the book.

I watched it backwards. We were watching "Jewish Americans" (recommended) on a different PBS station, but my husband needed to do something at 10PM. We were recording both, so it was a simple matter to switch to 13 and watch the end of Persuasion (who is this sad person running out of the concert?)

Afterwards, I watched Persuasion from the beginning, and wondered what this charmless thing was.

Drat. It's sitting on the TiVo and I was really hoping. :(

I know. I was looking forward to it all afternoon myself.

I saw that they were showing them, but being that I'm rather stupid I couldn't figure out what versions they were.

I have a box set of the BBC versions, which I haven't watched yet though I did see their original version of Pride and Prejudice ages ago and later the Colin Firth one (which is apparently the one they're going to show.)

So, yeah, I'm confused.

The only version of Persuasion I ever saw was the this film which I saw in the theater but it doesn't sound like you're describing that one.

And if they mess with Fanny Price I wash my hands of them. I'm one of the poor girl's only fans.

(I didn't see Mr. Elliot as a sociopath so much as really manipulative and a jerk. And the same can be said of Henry Crawford though if I had to pick one to date I'd pick Henry, he's more honest about what he is. But maybe I'm just not reading between the lines enough.)

Edited at 2008-01-14 05:08 pm (UTC)

It's a new production. I've only seen part of the one you reference and it was so much better.

I'm not a fan of Miss Price by any means (If you must know, I killed her off - figuring that she couldn't ride if she were pregnant and pregnancy would also be a risk. There's even a story in my head where widowed Edmund marries Kitty Bennet.) but she's a well-realized character and I don't want her tampered with.

JA presented Mr. Elliot as having cold eyes and not caring for anyone beyond their use. That's classic. Doesn't mean he's a murderer, though.

On the other hand - can you imagine him and, say, Becky Sharp? :)

Henry loved his uncle, loved his sister and, I believe, loved Fanny enough to try changing. He was just weak. And a manipulative jerk, but also weak. If he'd been a touch stronger, he'd have gone back to his estate, and eventually gotten Fanny. Sociopaths don't feel that way about other people. It's one of the definitions.

Yep, we watched it too. And by half an hour in, I'd gotten the book off the shelf to check my "wait, did *that* happen?"s. The answer was almost always no. This Anne was always on the verge of tears or hyperventilation, and Wentworth was far, far too pretty. And Sir Walter wasn't flighty enough. And the actress playing Mary seemed to have studied Sophie Thompson's vocal mannerisms from the wonderful Amanda Root/Ciaran Hinds version. I think my only problem with the latter one (the 1995 one linked to upthread) was the kiss in the street at the end, but at least it was chaste and tasteful, unlike the one in last night's. Blech.

I didn't care for the kiss either, and thought the film would have been way better without it, but I agree that it could have been worse. I also didn't like the portrayal of the older sister, who didn't look attractive when she really was supposed to be, and was too unsubtle in her obnoxiousness. But overall it was quite good and I really felt immersed in the period which was a treat.

Thanks for the warning. I won't go out of my way to catch this series if it's as bad as that.

I've never understood why anyone would adapt an Austen and then change the language. It's like an episode of Miss Marple on Mystery where they changed who the murderer is. (Yes, an actual episode.) Why bother calling it Austen/Christie if you're going to throw out what made the story Austen/Christie to begin with?

Didn't they do that with the latest adaptation of P&P? Move it back twenty years and make it...different?

I mean, apparently it made people *cry*. And that's totally wrong.

Half the pleasure in reading Dear Jane is her *language*.

I love the version of Persuasion that rosehiptea mentioned; you should try to see all of it. It's beautiful. The one Sunday night... meh. I had trouble paying attention to it. I mean, part of it was that I watched it directly after Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and it was a massive change in tone. But the rest of it was that I was just bored.