Monday, January 14, 2008

Not Persuaded

For over a year now I have anticipated four new film adaptations of Jane Austen's six novels. It's not that I don't already love the existing Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion adaptations, but I felt that both movies, as good as they were, had their weaknesses and could use a new interpretation that would remain faithful to the novels. Northanger Abbey doesn't even exist in a watchable version (so I have been told of the old BBC adaptation) nor does Mansfield Park (I refused to watch the newer one, as it deviated from the book too much for comfort). Imagine my excitement to find that ITV and the BBC were doing not one, not two, but FOUR new adaptations of Jane Austen's magnificent and underrated novels named above. I kept up hope all year that the various filmmakers would stay true to the novels. What could you possibly add to such great literary masterpieces? I kept up hope that they would not feel the need to "Americanize" the movies in order to have successful ratings. Why would anyone feel as though Austen's work should be "improved" on - as though her works have not stood the test of a couple hundred years of delighted readers?! I kept up hope even when the British critics and bloggers met the films as they were shown last summer and fall with great skepticism; and then, when the subsequent reviews dripped with disappointment, I hoped that it was just because the British have very high expectations that no human filmmaker could meet. I knew better, though, because my expectations as a long-time, passionate Jane Austen fan probably exceed those of the Brits.

So now you have guessed this long intro to my review. Do I still need to write a review after all that preambling? Thankfully, this critic at the Boston Globe wrote one for me that sums up in a precise, neat article what I never could find the breath to express in so many words as I recover from this first Austen adaptation to show in the US. I'm not sure I have courage enough to watch the rest, although I have no doubt my curiosity will overcome my reluctance in the coming weeks. :-)

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