30 de agosto de 2013

Mansfield Park adaptations

Escrevi este texto nos idos anos de 2009, quando tinha sido convidada para participar num blog que entretanto fechou. Como ia perdendo o texto para o éter (o link do blog não funciona, não era encontrado usando as caches do Google, o pc onde escrevi e guardei o texto faleceu há alguns anos), até que o Luís Filipe Silva me indicou o site archive.org (que é fenomenal), aqui fica. E agora vou fazer backup de todo o blog e verificar se outras participações em blogs não andam perdidas...

I thought I could start my participation in this blog with the review of the three adaptations made, until now, of "Mansfield Park". I've read the book recently, wasn't that pleased with it, I thought it to be quite different. Austen had already displeased me with "Emma", but I gave the movie a chance and I ended up liking it more than the book. Wondered if the same would happen with "Mansfield Park", and there I was chasing after the different adaptations.

I decided to start with the ITV's 2007 adaptation since I had it at home. I must say I had already seen by ITV's adaptations of "Northanger Abbey", which I loved, and "Persuasion", which I hated. The reviews for this adaptation made me dread it a bit, it was pictured as being even worse than "Persuasion", one of the reasons why I postponed its watch, but I decided to give it chance, after the reading of the novel. It couldn't be worst, right? Wrong!

I should start by saying that Billie Piper isn't one of my favorite actresses. I've seen her in "Doctor Who" and really disliked her acting, it seemed quite superficial and without real emotion. Fanny isn't one of my favorite characters either, so it was difficult to like the character in this adaptation. Besides that, it was tiresome to see her running from one side to the other (seemed to be a trend on ITV's adaptations as Anne Elliot in "Persuasion" did it too while reading Wentworth's letter), when the character is supposed to be somewhat frail and preferring indoors to outdoors, where the only things she would like to do was gardening or riding a gentle mare, not playing badminton, and running, dancing and being giddy all the time.

But Fanny wasn't the only character that wasn't like the original character from the book. Actually the entire adaptation had some liberties that quite deconstructed the work Austen did in her book, when it came to the relationship between characters, where there was jealousy and different moral values. Parts were cut and modified, as well as dialogs. Some characters suffered an extreme makeover, as Lady Bertram, who seemed more active than she should. But what really bugged me was the pace. It was faster than the book, but everything seemed to pass in a blink of an eye, when it should be noticed the passing of time and the evolution of the relationships. The end really made me roll my eyes and that isn't a good sign.

After this adaptation, I stumbled upon the 1999 version and realized why I thought the book to be different. I guess I read too many reviews of this movie, the adaptation that has the greater number of changes when comparing it to the book. Some themes were largely spoken of, as slavery and the social difference between Fanny and the rest of her family.

Here Fanny (Frances O’Connor) is a very witty, intelligent girl, strong and still has defects, apart from her jealously towards Mary Crawford, which made it easier to care and relate to her. Edmund was well portrayed by Jonny Lee Miller (who had a smaller part in an earlier adaptation of "Mansfield Park") and here he seems to have been in love with Fanny for a long time. This was a big liberty taken by the director, but it was well explored and even credible, quite contrary to what happened in the ITV's adaptation, where in a second Edmund discovers himself in love with Fanny.

As told, in this version many changes were made, as the slavery theme. I thought it was nice the way Tom (here played by James Purefoy) was given a strong moral concerning this point, going against his father and providing an 'excuse', so to speak, to his libertine ways. Henry Crawford (Alessandro Nivola) was a likeable character as well, charmer and with clearer intentions concerning the women.

This was a pleasanter version than the ITV one. But there was still one version left to watch. When I learned there was a copy on the library, I didn't hesitated and borrowed it.

This last adaptation was the first made, in 1983 by BBC. I'm a fan of BBC's adaptations and this one was no exception. I loved it and prefer it to the book, as it happens with Gwyneth Paltrow's "Emma".

This version is the only one that remains faithful to the book since time wasn't an issue as this is a 6 episodes series. The boring parts were put aside and Fanny, here portrayed brilliantly by Sylvestra Le Touzel, was more likeable and seemed to grow more than she did in the book. Aunt Norris was perfect, really despicable, and the remaining cast was awesome as well, really faithful to their characterization in the book. Maybe not Henry Crawford, Robert Burbage didn't quite convince me about the duality of his actions and of his attachment to Fanny, but we can relate to her in her disliking of him.

Every important scene is present on this version. Fanny was really nice to know, I actually could relate to her in this version, and was pleased by her happy ending, again similar to the book. We understand it might have been some time until she and Edmund got married, and I loved to see them in the garden with a puppy, probably one from Pug's latest litter, as it was promised by Lady Bertram. It was a really nice ending.

Overall, I really loved the BBC's series and the 1999 movie better than I liked the book, but the ITV version really didn't brought anything new and was, by far, the worst adaptation I've seen of "Mansfield Park".

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