My Beautiful Wickedness


Jane Austen Lite
January 27, 2008, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Damn, that Masterpiece Theatre treatment of Mansfield Park was freaky fast.  That adaptation lopped off about 40% of the book, many of the speeches that revealed peoples’ motivations, changed the characters’ personalities all around…it was enjoyable, but it sort of felt like I channelsurfed and had missed part of it even when I didn’t. I thought maybe I had dozed off but no, it really was just pureed and served over ice with a pink umbrella and a fruit spear. 
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Why couldn’t we have a really annoying Mrs. Norris? Why didn’t they make Mary Crawford absolutely stunning and amoral and shocking in her profoundly shallow ways? Henry wasn’t nearly tortured enough, Edwin wasn’t nearly enough of a priggish drip, and to cast Billie Piper (who I loved in Dr. Who) as the always sweet and prim Fanny Price is to give the character yards more spirit than she actually had in the book…poo. But as always, the scenery was lovely and the dresses good enough to eat. Gotta love the BBC costume shop when it comes to Napoleonic Era clothing.

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3 Comments so far
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Word. I had forgotten about it, turned it on about half an hour in, and Maria was driving away with her husband. I thought I must somehow have missed the first hour last week or something.

Plus, there’s a reason Austen never actually wrote the Edmund and Fanny coming together scenes. It’s because it really is improbable. And having Lady Bertram wake up enough to promote it was just silly.

Re: the costumes, though. I realize that Fanny is the heroine and has to be distinguished visually from the other women. But would someone that prudish have been running around in public with her head uncovered?

Comment by nm

No. Especially after she had “come out” in society, she would have worn a headscarf, even though she was of a lesser social status than the Bertrams. She also wouldn’t have had that heaving boooosum out there without a kerchief. The Empire people were all about the high boobs and shelving in dresses to make the boobs remain high even after pregnancy (much has been written about English women and boob display in the 18th/early 19th c and the social meaning of the breast), but Fanny really modest. I think they thought that they would make her appear unaware of her own allure and changing body — you know, the whole giddy playing badminton, chasing kids around thing — but the book is very specific that her chaste and somewhat dowdy appearance is one of the things that turns Edmund on. Because he is a prat.

Comment by bridgett

It’d be pretty hard to make Piper look dowdy, though–they lost that battle at casting.

Heads up–the actor who played Edmund will be Antony Blanche in the new version of Brideshead Revisited.

Comment by Penny




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