Monday, August 2, 2010 |
The Everything Austen II Challenge officially started on July 1, and this is my first contribution. You might say I’m a bit behind. It’s not that there aren’t a lot of great books and films to choose from, because there are plenty. But I think anyone who has been book blogging for a while will agree: our to-be-read (TBR) piles are enormous, and even the thought of tackling them for a challenge can be daunting.

Luckily this challenge allows for films. Or maybe not so luckily?

Jane Austen's last novel provides the plot for this earlier Granada miniseries. Set in pre-Victorian England, this movie tells the story of Anne Elliot, who now having lost her "bloom" is re-united with the dashing Captain Frederick Wentworth, whose advances she had refused seven years earlier.

Now that he has gained both connections and fortune in the Napoleonic Wars, she regrets that her neighbor, the meddling Lady Russell, persuaded her to refuse his proposal of marriage. She watches him woo the young Louisa Musgrove, suffering terribly while he appears to have forgotten entirely his earlier attraction to her. Manners and mores often thwart her strong desire to tell her true feelings, but his emotions are masked too by fear and the lasting pain of her rejection.

I’m a time-tested fan of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I read it for the first time as a freshman in college, and I’ve been an evangelist for it ever since. And though I’ve found small faults with the previous Persuasion film adaptations, I liked both of them well enough to buy them for my home DVD collection. All that to say, I had high hopes for this mini-series, even though it was made in 1971. Over ten years before my birth. So…how can I say this?

Persuasion, the 1971 BBC mini-series version, is an absolute failure. There, that wasn’t so bad, was it? I ripped off the band-aid, we all know how I feel…except that this is supposed to be a review. *le sigh* One thing I can say about myself: I whine like a champ. So, what was it that turned me off about this DVD experience?

First of all, the hair. I have an irrational prejudice against hair poufs. I KNOW. Weird. Well, the hair is high in this adaptation, and it made my eyeballs hurt. Number two: the actors, but especially Anne. I haven’t seen someone’s face this frozen since…the last time I watched a Nicole Kidman movie. I thought they didn’t have Botox back then?! The one decent (and incredibly pompous, as he’s supposed to be) portrayal? Sir Walter Elliot.

Three – (and yes, I know I’m starting a new paragraph in the middle of ONE topic. The text needed it, trust me.) it took almost an hour for Captain Wentworth to show up on screen. I know that the whole thing runs around four hours, but that’s taking things pretty far… And four, with which I will end my rant: the whole thing reminds me VERY strongly of a soap opera. There are good classic movies and dismal classic movies. There were stellar made-for-television programs back then. This isn’t one of them. The level of production, the failure of the actors, the length of the script – it could have been tightened, shined to a high gloss, and been so much BETTER, you know? It hurts my soul (but only a little bit – don’t worry).

In sum, I’d recommend this only to the die-hardest of all BBC Austen series die-hards. I’m fairly sure no one else will be able to sit through it. Again, *sigh*. If you want a different take (5 stars!) on this one, look no farther than Velvet's review. Different strokes, eh?

I watched this film for the Everything Austen II Challenge, which is hosted by the awesome Stephanie of Stephanie's Written Word.


Kristen M. said...

Honestly, the Princess Leia 'do on the cover would have probably been enough to keep me away from this one. :) There used to be a lot more liberty taken with scripts of classics back in the day. Modern re-tellings might not always be entirely faithful to the text but I feel they do much better with being faithful to the tone and characters.

Gramma Ann said...

I read Persuasion this past winter, and then watched the BBC's 1995 version of the movie on DVD. Amanda Root, played Anne, and Ciaran Hinds was Wentworth. I enjoyed both, the book and the DVD. I have never seen the 1971 version you watched.

After your review, I would like to watch it just to see the difference in the two movies.

vvb32 reads said...

hee hee, i did warn you about the hair ;-D

Liviania said...

This is one of my favorite Austen adaptations! Definitely different strokes.

Jenny said...

I've heard very bad things about this and the most recent BBC adaptation of Persuasion. I'm planning to reread Persuasion after not reading it for years, and I was hoping to have a good film/TV adaptation for after I read the book, but maybe there isn't a good one. Sigh.

Avid Reader said...

Geez, I'll definitely be avoiding this one. I'll let the 1995 version remain my favorite.

Serena said...

I would highly recommend this version: http://www.amazon.com/Persuasion-Amanda-Root/dp/B00003JRCQ/ref=sr_1_2?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1280856923&sr=1-2

I think its the best one that's been done of Persuasion. There is some dramatic tension between Anne and Wentworth in this one. I really enjoyed it when the Masterpiece had their Austen series.

J.T. Oldfield said...

I watched a more modern one for the EA challenge last year...I think it was still BBC, but it was good.


Vanessa said...

The 1995 version is one of my favorite Austen adaptations. Although the new BBC one that came out recently was pretty well done, too (better than the S&S one they did, anyway...who dares compete with Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson?).

Alyce said...

I haven't seen this one, but I watched a horrible adaptation of Jane Eyre last year that I hope I never mistakenly waste time on again. Thanks for the warning about this one. :)

Lenore said...

I just read Persuasion for the first time this year. Definitely will steer clear of this film adapation.

Lisa said...

And let's be honest--much as I love Austen, it wouldn't be hard to turn most of them soap opera-ish. Sad to hear this one went that route.

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