Mansfield Park – BBC 1983

Mansfield Park

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I’ve seen all three versions of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park available on Netflix and I have to say this was my least favorite. The production value is not good, with poor camera work, worse sound and no perceptible chemistry between any of the actors, let alone the two principles. I realize Mansfield Park isn’t on the same romantic level of Pride & Prejudice or Sense & Sensibility, it being a quiet, reserved story more autobiographical of Austen than anything else. What I really objected to were how the characters in this production were portrayed. Fanny is a dull little mouse with next to no personality, difficult to like and even harder to root for. The film didn’t capture her well at all, perhaps because in the book her character is revealed only by means of an omniscient narrator, able to explain Fanny’s thoughts and feelings to the reader. Lady Bertram is this wispy querulous woman always reclining on something who speaks so softly in high sing-song pitches that she sounds like a polite mosquito. The Crawford siblings seem actually quite likeable rather than the mercenary social pirates they are in the book. Also, did anyone else notice Mary and Henry Crawford seem to have exactly the same hairstyle? Grossly inaccurate for a woman to sport that short of a haircut during this time period. Actually, the only character who I think is in any way accurate is the odious Mrs. Norris, a passive-aggressive officious old biddy. Tom Bertram is entirely too well-behaved and to tell the truth, he had more chemistry with Fanny than his brother Edmund did. I watched all 5+ hours and after all that time the show only devoted about 2 minutes to the denouement, which I found to be highly unsatisfactory. I give this two stars because it really does take the time to showcase Austen’s wonderful writing style in the dialogue, but I liked the version with Billie Piper much better. – BETHANY

For more details about this particular version of Mansfield Park, visit :

Lady Bertram and Pug


                             Fanny and Mr. Crawford

                                                               The Crawford Siblings

   Mrs. Norris

Photos courtesy of Lionheart Television International and BBC2


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