Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Amazing Grace of Fanny

This really ought to be a post on lovely Fanny, Jane Austen's most maligned heroine; rather it is a short note about something I thought interesting enough to share, but not meaty enough to warrant a long post.

Jason and I just watched Amazing Grace (2006) last night. Good movie; not great, but good. I learned quite a bit about England's abolitionist movement. Thought a lot about Jane, as this moral and political battle was raging in her formative years. And, while I was watching, who should beam out on my TV screen but Miss Fanny Price! And there was Edmund Bertram, too! They were playing married couple, Marianne and Henry Thornton (two "Austen character" first names, the latter being a favorite . . . Hey! I'm drawing all the Austen tidbits I can out of this to make a longer post!). I love when they use a real-life married couple to play a married couple on stage or screen.


OK, before you think I've gone loopy, I am just teasing. But, Sylvestra Le Touzel and Nicholas Farrell were in the 1983 British mini-series of Mansfield Park (playing Fanny and Edmund respectively), which remains to this day the only screen adaptation of Mansfield Park to watch -- not so much because of its great merit, but because of Patricia Rozema's 1999 atrocity that bears the same name as, but little else of, Miss Austen's masterpiece.*

And, how appropriate is this casting decision, considering that Fanny Price is the only character in any Jane Austen novel (other than an obtuse reference by Jane Fairfax in Emma) to even refer to the slave trade, which was such a hotly debated topic of the era? I am certain that the casting director took that into account.

Anyway, I thought that was a tad interesting. Been reading a lot of J.K. Rowling, not so much Jane Austen, but Persuasion is in queue right after Deathly Hallows. Dear Anne Elliot's birthday is coming up, and I do so want to participate in Lynnae's event. Hi-dee-ho! Off I go!

*It has again come to my attention -- I had blocked it out after a disastrous night of seeing Lizzy exploited on the bookshelves of Barnes & Noble -- that there is also a 2007 British made-for-TV movie of Mansfield Park. I know I ought not to judge a DVD by its cover, but my first thought upon seeing it was, "My, that Fanny looks slutty." Needless to say, I did not rush home and Netflix it.

8 comments:

vermonster said...

Be glad you didn't. The actress in the 2007 version was not right for the part, in my humble opinion.

Southerner said...

I've just seen this on your site and was about to inform you of my new BLOG, London Calling, which has a lot of Jane related photographs. Places mentioned in her letters.Here's a link. You are very welcome to have a look.
http://general-southerner.blogspot.com/

BUT then as I say, saw this. i live in Wimbledon. Up on Wimbledon Common there is a blue plaque on the side of a house. William Wilberforce lived here.It wsa only a weekend home he used left to him in the will of an uncle. Not much further in Clapham is the church the Clapham sect met. The Claphan Sect being the group of friends Wilberforce worked with to abolish slavery.

It's a small world.

If you are interested I have got some phootgraphs of sites relating to the Clapham Sect?

All the best,
Tony Grant ( An unlikely Janeite.)

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RosieP said...

But, Sylvestra Le Touzel and Nicholas Farrell were in the 1983 British mini-series of Mansfield Park (playing Fanny and Edmund respectively), which remains to this day the only screen adaptation of Mansfield Park to watch -- not so much because of its great merit, but because of Patricia Rozema's 1999 atrocity that bears the same name.



I disagree. The 1999 version had a lot of faults. But so did the 1983 version. And between the two, I prefer Rozema's version a little more.

Justine said...

Thanks for coming by, RosieP! The reason I prefer the 1983 version is because -- while dullish and plodding -- they at least didn't try to modernize Fanny. Fanny is a tough heroine for current tastes, but the Rozema film didn't even try to capture what makes Fanny Fanny -- her perception, her unerring moral clarity, and her ability to stick to her convictions despite all sorts of pressures (not to mention a naturally timid nature). When Rozema's Fanny first accepted, then refused, Henry Crawford, I knew that the filmmaker just didn't get Fanny. And, without Fanny's being Fanny, Mansfield Park doesn't make any sense. Just my two cents. I would love to see a really well done MP -- maybe Andrew Davies will bless us with one someday.

The Rush Blog said...

OK, before you think I've gone loopy, I am just teasing. But, Sylvestra Le Touzel and Nicholas Farrell were in the 1983 British mini-series of Mansfield Park (playing Fanny and Edmund respectively), which remains to this day the only screen adaptation of Mansfield Park to watch -- not so much because of its great merit, but because of Patricia Rozema's 1999 atrocity that bears the same name as, but little else of, Miss Austen's masterpiece.*


I wish I could believe you about this, but I can't. Just because a movie is faithful to its literary source, does not automatically make it better. Watching the 1983 version of "MANSFIELD FIELD" seemed like an exercise in patience, due to scenes that tend to drag and some of the performances. And it was not that faithful to the 1814 novel.

Justine said...

I wish I could believe you about this, but I can't. Just because a movie is faithful to its literary source, does not automatically make it better. Watching the 1983 version of "MANSFIELD FIELD" seemed like an exercise in patience, due to scenes that tend to drag and some of the performances. And it was not that faithful to the 1814 novel.

I would rather agree that there has been no worthwhile screen adaptation of MP than to lend any sort of legitimacy to the 1999 Rozema disaster. I never said the 1983 MP was good, merely that I thought it was more worthy than the more recent box office offering. Goodness, no, I would never hold 1983's MP up as an example of a good film or film treatment. MP is probably the hardest of the Austen novels to bring to life on screen, mostly because Fanny is so uncompelling. Yet, when Rozema tried to make her compelling, she basically erased Fanny. And I will hold to the claim that the 1983 MP -- while not absolutely faithful to the novel -- comes far closer than the 1999 debacle.

RosieP said...

Thought a lot about Jane, as this moral and political battle was raging in her formative years. And, while I was watching, who should beam out on my TV screen but Miss Fanny Price! And there was Edmund Bertram, too! They were playing married couple, Marianne and Henry Thornton (two "Austen character" first names, the latter being a favorite . . . Hey! I'm drawing all the Austen tidbits I can out of this to make a longer post!). I love when they use a real-life married couple to play a married couple on stage or screen.

I believe Nicholas Farrell and Sylvestra Le Touzel were not married in real life.