Mansfield Park – 1999

Mansfield Park

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To say this production takes liberties with Jane Austen’s novel Mansfield Park is a gross understatement. It seems as though the director tried to make it more risqué and edgy, with Tom Bertram being an outspoken abolitionist (complete with some VERY disturbing drawings of slave life in Antigua), some extraneous lesbian overtones and a totally unwarranted and lurid sex scene. Poor Ms. Austen might just come back from her grave at the very idea of two of her characters caught in flagrante delicto carrying on an adulterous affair, not to mention violent images of rape impinging on her delicate work. There were plenty of things implied here that have no basis whatsoever in the original novel, but it isn’t without its good points. They did a wonderful job illustrating the extreme poverty Fanny came from and what an array of incredibly talented actors! I love Jonny Lee Miller, Frances O’Connor, Hugh Bonneville, Lindsay Duncan, James Purefoy (although the latter two were very underutilized) to such a degree that I watched this solely because they were all in it, despite the less than complimentary reviews I had read first. This version does wind up being a bit dark and disturbing, and I have to say I liked the production with Billie Piper playing Fanny Price better, even if that version is also not entirely in keeping with the book either. However, as I said in my review of that version, it is pretty much impossible to make a truly bad movie based on Jane Austen’s books for the simple reason that she’s just that good of an author. This movie made a spirited attempt at capturing Austen’s genius, but the result was a bit tarnished and I just didn’t feel the romance (which they eschewed in favor of the salacious), which for me was this version’s greatest weakness. – BETHANY

Fanny and the clueless Edmund

Henry Crawford, Maria and Mr. Rushworth

                                                                              Lady Bertram and Pug

A lewd interlude

Are you getting the picture that this is a very racy rendition of Mansfield Park? flanked by Crawfords

For more information, visit the Internet Movie Database:

Photos courtesy of HAL Films, Miramax Films and BVI


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