Thursday, January 17, 2008


I just watched the Masterpiece Theatre version of Jane Austen's Persuasion last night and I must say I was disappointed. Now let me preface that by saying that I usually do have a problem with movies adapted from books I've read because I want the movie to be true to the plot as written by the author. (And I know that it is hard to condense an entire novel into a 90 minute movie.) That's probably why my favorite movie adapted from a book is the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice. It's over 5 hours long, but it is very true to the book. ( I didn't like the most recent adaptation of P&P either)

I'll deal with the positives first:

I thought the movie looked beautiful. It seemed to capture the time and setting of the book very well.

I also thought the score was beautiful.

I liked the actors cast as Anne and Captain Wentworth. Captain Wentworth in particular was a very dashing leading man, although he didn't look like a sailor who had spent eight years at sea.

On the negative side:

They did a lot or rearranging of the plot. For instance, why did Anne have the conversation about the fickleness of women in Lyme with Captain Benwick, instead of in Bath with Captain Harville? That conversation is a turning point in the book that gives hope to an eavesdropping Captain Wentworth, and causes him to write the note in which he declares that he still loves Anne. Why change it?

In the book, Mr Elliot does show his preference for Anne, but he doesn't make an outright proposal.

I thought that Sir Walter Elliot, Elizabeth, and Mary, while portrayed as very unkind and unfeeling to Anne in the book, are portrayed as downright mean and nasty in this movie.

Why, oh why, did Anne keep looking into the camera? Was it for some kind of dramatic effect? I found it distracting.

Captain Wentworth buys Kellynch-hall for Anne as a wedding present? I hadn't realized that it was for sale.

And there were many other details of the plot that were changed, including Mrs. Smith not being sickly, Mrs. Clay being pretty, Anne running and running, and running through Bath, ( I would have passed out) and many, many more.

So, there it is. While it looked beautiful, it was overall disappointing for me, especially as Persuasion is one of my favorite of Jane Austen's books. I thought that the 1995 version starring Amanda Root, while not a perfect adaptation, was a much better movie.

Did you watch the movie, and if so, did you like or dislike it? I'd love to hear your opinions, let me know what you thought!


Misty said...

i didn't see it, but it sounds like i would be disappointed...

Anonymous said...

I know this is six months late, but just saw the movie on TV. YOu are right, the looking into the camera thing just made you feel real uncomfortable, and I kept wondering why they included that, since none of the other characters looked at the camera. Was the novel written in first person? Maybe you were seeing everything from Anne's point of view.

No matter, it wasn't helpful.

The running thing was weird also, apparently, women of that era would not have done something like that publicly, nor kiss their lovers in the street. All much more modern takes on the old story.