12 October 2008

Mansfield Park (starring Billie Piper and Julia Joyce)

I've always enjoyed the books by Jane Austen, but 'Mansfield Park' is one of my favourites. It features the shy, well-behaved Fanny Price who hero-worships her cousin Edmund, and faces grave displeasure from her cousins and friends when she stands up for something she believes to be right, despite their attempts to persuade her otherwise.

Jane Austen's novels usually translate well to the screen, particularly (in my view) when made for television, allowing sometimes for longer versions than a film to be shown at the cinema.

So when we were given the ITV version of 'Mansfield Park' by a relative, who found it free with a Sunday paper, I looked forward very much to seeing it.

Unfortunately, this is by a long way the worst adaptation of a Jane Austen novel that I have seen. Billie Piper is totally miscast as the demure, almost priggish Fanny Price, which spoils the entire thing. Piper plays Fanny as a pouting, overly-prudish miss, whom nobody could possibly like.

While the film roughly follows the plot of the book (other than in Fanny Price's personality), there are too many missing characters, and other unnecessary changes which did not really make sense.

In addition, we did not feel that there was any sense of the 18th century at all. Yet it's not a completely modern interpretation - which might have been intriguing; instead, it looks like modern people dressed up in costume. Even the camera work is bizarre at times.

It’s strange how the BBC can make such excellent period drama productions, whereas those made for ITV (such as this one) are generally much poorer quality. I’m glad we got this free with a newspaper rather than being given it for Christmas or paying for it.

NOT recommended.

Review copyright Sue's DVD Reviews

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