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Jane  Austen
資料提供者:Dr. Margarette R Connor;Julia Hsieh/謝佩璇
Other Austen Adaptations


Magarette Connor

Northanger Abbey

Mansfield Park


By putting these three novels together I don't by any means imply that they are lesser novels, but they aren't studied in schools as often as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. And they are not filmed as often, either. But, of course, there are filmic versions of all three, some of which are quite good.

Northanger Abbey

Published posthumously in 1817, this is a ripping tale of what trouble an inexperienced young woman's imagination can get her into.   This is the Austen novel I think of as funniest, as Catherine Morland seems like a typical sheltered teenager.   Her willingness to believe her beloved Gothic novels have anything to do with real life in rural England make me smile every time I read the book.   Change the clothes and the venue, and we can find Catherine Morlands around us today.

Katharine Schlesinger and Peter Firth. Source: Jane Austen Webcinderios: http://janeausten.webcindario.com/naadape.html


One screen version

There is currently one film version of Northanger Abbey , directed by Giles Foster in 1986 for television.   The film starred Katharine Schlesinger and Peter Firth as Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney , and while it was lovely to look at, and on some levels true to Austen's novel, it has been universally panned by critics and Austenphiles alike.

The screenplay by Maggie Wadey makes the story much more of a Gothic romance instead of the mild satire of the Gothic genre which it is supposed to be.   Instead of making us laugh at Catherine's fears, she increases the terrors for us.

One way in which Wadey does this is she adds a number of nightmare scenes for Catherine.   Ironically, the "source" text for some of Catherine's nightmares is Ann Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho , one of the texts being gently mocked by Austen's novel.


Another version sits and waits

For the past five years or so, there has been talk of a new version of Northanger Abbey with a screenplay by Andrew Davies, who did the screenplays for the BBC versions of Pride and Prejudice and Emma. It was originally optioned by Miramax , but that agreement has been canceled by the studio.   The option was picked up by Granada Television (England), but because of the prohibitive costs of costume dramas, the project sits and waits. 

Mansfield Park

This was Austen's third published novel, appearing in 1814 as by “the author Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice .”   The story of poor relation Fanny Price, taken in by her wealthy relatives at Mansfield Park is Austen's most complex novel, but many modern readers can not empathize with gentle, self-effacing Fanny.

But in spite of Fanny's limited modern appeal, there have been two filmic version made of her story.


Frances O'Connor as Fanny Price.

Source: About.com Worldfilm: http://worldfilm.about.com/library/99nowplaying/blmansfield%20park.htm

Mini-series version

The first, directed by David Giles with screenplay by Kenneth Taylor, was a mini-series for the BBC in 1983.   Because of the mini-series format, there was plenty of time for coverage of the book.   And this version did stick very close to Austen's novel.   But it still was not as popular as hoped.

The problem seemed to lie with the casting and the acting.   Fanny was played by the relative newcomer Sylvestra Le Touzel , and Edmund Bertram was played by Nicholas Farrell, also a relative new comer.   Both seemed a little stiff in their parts, and in fact, one adjective often used to describe this version is “stagy;” another, sadly, is “boring”.  

Unfortunately, I tend to agree with both adjectives, so for any teaching purposes, I would avoid this version.


Feature Film version

In 1999, Patricia Rozema wrote and directed quite a lively version of the novel for cinema release.   Starring Australian actor Frances O'Connor as Fanny Price and Jonny Lee Miller as Edmund Bertram, this version has much more life and zest, and is quite popular with critics.

(Just a piece of film trivia, in the 1983 version, an 11-year-old Jonny Lee Miller played Fanny's brother Charles.)


Many differences
Frances O'Connor and Jonny Lee Miller, Source: Britmovies: http://www.britmovie.co.uk/genres/drama/filmography/046.html

There are many changes in this version of the novel. It has definitely been updated to fit more with 21 st century sensibilities.  

One of the biggest changes is to the character of Fanny herself.   This Fanny has spunk.   Rozema created this Fanny by   “adding a layer to Fanny by expressing her interior through [her own] stories which she tells to her sister. In the book, Fanny is interpreted through Jane Austen . In the movie, I'm the interpreter. In movies, we have a much more intimate, visceral relationship with the characters than we sometimes do in books." She also credits the performances of actors Hannah Taylor Gordon [young Fanny] and Frances O'Connor for bringing the character to life and making her accessable to the audience. ( Berardinelli ).

Other changes include highlighting the issue of slavery, and introducing themes of lesbianism and incest, themes that Rozema sees as coming from the original work.   And Rozema is unapolegetic to Austen fans who fear she has gone too far off the mark.   “Her intention here was not so much to do a rote regurgitation of the novel Mansfield Park but to offer a ‘collage' that is an ‘accurate portrait of Austen and her work.'” ( Berardinelli ).

While this is not “traditional” Austen , it is a very good film, and it is a good choice to show an example of screenwriters using classics as springboards.



The All-important Fall.

Source: Persuasion Homepage, http://www.sonypictures.com/classics/persuasion/multimedia/stills/AmandaRichardCiaran.jpg

The haunting novel Persuasion was written in 1815-1816, while Jane Austen was suffering from her fatal illness. She was still working on some revisions at the time of her death in 1817. The novel was published posthumously by her brother, Henry Austen in 1818.

This is the story of Anne Elliot, who seven years before the opening of the novel, was “persuaded” by friends and family to decline the proposal of the young man she really loved, a penniless seaman, Frederick Wentworth .   Shortly after the book's opening, the still-unmarried Anne meets her former beau, now the well-off Captain Wentworth .   This is a tale of thwarted expectations, pride and ultimately requited love.


Early mini-series versions

Like all of Austen's other beloved novels, this was turned into a mini-series more than once.   Early, hard to find versions are the 1960 version directed by Campbell Logan and starring Daphne Slater as Anne Elliot (she had also played Elizabeth Barrett in the 1952 version of Pride and Prejudice ).

The second version, directed by Howard Baker in 1971, starred Anne Firbank as Anne Elliot.   Made for Granada Television, one of the main complaints about this version is that the then 38-year-old Firbank looked too old even for the “spinster” Anne Elliot.   There are also complaints about the acting and the costuming.   It runs about four hours long, but most critics and fans agree that it is far inferior to the 1995 version.


Recent Film version
Amanda Root as Anne Eliot. Source: Male Voices: Reviews of Jane Austen Films: http://www.ashton-dennis.org/dancer2.html

In 1995 Roger Michell directed a television film that was released theatrically in the US.   With a screenplay by Nick Dear, this version starred then-32-year-old Amanda Root as the 27-year-old Anne Elliott.   Beautifully filmed all with natural light and totally on location, this version was a success, and I highly recommend it.

Most of the actresses also wore no make-up (only women who would have “powdered” in Austen's book wore make-up here).   As a result, Root looks like a “spinster” slightly past her prime, which is exactly what Anne Elliot was.   But Root is a highly talented actor for both stage and screen, and she can express much with her large, expressive eyes.   Even when she has few words, the audience knows exactly what's going on behind the facade.


Root on her part

Ciaran Hinds as Capt. Wentworth.

Source: Persuasion Homepage, http://www.sonypictures.com/classics/persuasion/multimedia/stills/CiaranColor2.jpg

"What I think is hard in any film adaptation of a book is that you might have a whole chapter written about your character's feelings, and then you get a couple of scenes on the film in which you don't say anything. And yet somehow you have to get across how she's feeling. That's the hardest thing. To strike a balance between sharing too much or sharing too little, but actually getting the message across.” (“Amanda Root”)

Root's performance as Anne Elliot is very nicely balanced by another accomplished stage actor, Ciarán Hinds, playing Capt. Wentworth .   His expressions tell us much about hurt pride and buried love.  


The film is worth watching for the performances of the two leads, but the supporting actors round out the film with excellent performances.   Sophie Thompson does an excellent job as Anne's silly, proud younger sister, Maria Musgrove , and Fiona Shaw stands out as Mrs. Croft , Capt. Wentworth's sister.   Other cast members worth noting are Colin Redgrave (brother of Vanessa and Lynn) as Sir Walter Elliot and Phoebe Nicholls as Elizabeth Elliot.   Both convey the blind pride and willful self-deception of the father and daughter who don't accept that their money is rapidly coming to an end.






Favorite of Critics

Critics universally praised the film.   The New York Times's review is an excellent example of what they were saying:   “The camera becomes the visual equivalent of Austen's rich, commenting voice, and though it cannot be a complete replacement, it is a more than serviceable one. The camera slyly glances at Mary's sisters-in-law, the infatuated Louisa and Henrietta Musgrove , when the possibility of Frederick's marriage is discussed. And the film's visual design captures the world as Austen saw it. The women wear no makeup. The characters dine in darkness dramatically lighted by candles, or walk by the sea in translucent sunlight. On a walk in the woods, the serious Anne wears a deep green cloak while the frivolous Musgrove women all wear red. Only the pompous characters look artificial, notably the Elliots ' garish rich relatives, the Dalrymples ....”

The book “is brilliantly captured by Mr. Michell , with the screenwriter Nick Dear and a cast completely in sync with Austen's warm but piercing style. Their "Persuasion" is profoundly truthful in many ways: in its sense of emotional longing; in its natural, unglamorized visual beauty, ranging from drawing rooms to the sea; in its fidelity to the delicate tone of Austen's satire and romance.” (James)


“Amanda Root,” Persuasion, The Movie , 21 Sept 1995.   SONY Pictures. 21 Feb 2005. http://www.sonypictures.com/classics/persuasion/cast/root.html

Berardinelli , James. “The Darker Side of Jane Austen : Patricia Rozema Talks about Mansfield Park.” 15 Nov 1999.   Movie Reviews .   18 Feb 2004. http://movie-reviews.colossus.net/comment/111599.html

James, Caryn .   “ Austen Tale of Lost Love Refound ” Review of Persuasion .   27 Sept 1995.   New York Times .   21 Feb 2005. http://movies2.nytimes.com/mem/movies/review.html?title1=&title2=PERSUASION%20%28MOVIE%29&reviewer=Caryn%20James&pdate=19950927&v_id=134808&reviewer=Caryn%20James

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