Sunday, January 27, 2008

Northanger Abbey

Those of you who know me know that I've got a wee bit of a Jane Austen obsession (of course, if you ask Hubby, he'd probably say it's a little bigger than "wee"). However, most of you probably aren't familiar or even had heard about her other novels. Northanger Abbey happens to be my favourite out of the six full length novels that were published. I love this novel because it's meant to be fun, and a spoof on the Gothic novels that everyone was reading at that time. Jane Austen even mentions a few of the popular titles in the book.

There was a 1986 version, which I have, of course. However, unless you really, really want to watch bad acting and poke your eyes out, I suggest you give that one a skip.

But EEEEEEEEEEEEE! This 2007 version was so very well done! I loved it! I heard years ago that Andrew Davies, who also wrote the screenplay for the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice, had a script written out, but couldn't find anyone to fund the project. So let me tell you that I've been waiting on pins and needles for a very long time.

Things that I loved about this adaptation:
  • JJ Feild as Henry Tilney: Okay, I will admit that I never really understood him as a character, until I saw JJ Feild in this role. I have now fallen in love with Henry Tilney, and have added JJ Feild to my list of Obsure British Actor crushes. But honestly, the man did an excellent job, and now when I read the book, I totally picture him as Henry Tilney.
  • Felicity Jones as Catherine Morland: Again, I couldn't relate to her character, either (funny that I've said that of the two main characters of my favourite Jane Austen book), but I loved her imagination and her innocence, and that really showed in this adaptation. Although I kept staring at Felicity Jones' overbite (very rude of me I know, but I couldn't help it!)
  • Carey Mulligan as Isabella Thorpe: I watched her in Pride and Prejudice (the Keira Knightley version), and thought she was a pretty okay actress in that movie. She has gotten better since because she really blew me away. She is saucy, pretentious and manipulative, but without being over the top, the very epitome of Isabella Thorpe. I felt at times she stole the scene away from Felicity Jones.
  • General Tilney, Captain Tilney, James Morland, The Morland Family, Mr. and Mrs. Allen were all as I had expected and they had done a great job casting the respective roles. Mrs. Allen and General Tilney were my favourites.
  • Scenes where Catherine where fancying herself as a heroine in a Gothic novel. I had a friend tell me that she didn't like them, but I did. I found it particularly funny that Catherine seemed to be enjoying herself a little too much, despite the fact that her life was in great peril.
Things that I'm sitting on the fence about:
  • John Thorpe. William Beck did a creditable job, but John Thorpe is a rattle, and I don't feel that this came through enough. I'm still trying to decide if it's the actor or the script. It may be a bit of both, but nonetheless, he wasn't what I'd quite imagined John Thorpe to be.
  • Eleanor Tilney. Again, I'm not certain if it's the actor or the script. Eleanor Tilney seemed dull and insipid. Even with the scenes where General Tilney wasn't present, I really didn't get a good sense of her character. She had some pretty good lines when she was able to speak her mind in the book, but that all got cut out in the adaptation. Wait, I just did some more reading, and it looks like PBS cut out another important scene. Bah.
  • The naked scenes. There were actually two from what I understand, but sucky PBS cut one of them out. Not that I'm a prude, or that I didn't feel that Jane Austen wouldn't have never written or implied such things if she would have, but I'm not certain that it really fit in with the spirit of the adaptation. The scene with Isabella Thorpe and Captain Tilney is probably the more realistic of the two, but I sort of wonder if Isabella is really that stupid. Still not certain. As for the other scene, I've seen pictures, and am more curious than anything as to how it played out and where in the story they put it. I've also heard that the Region 1 DVD doesn't have the cut out scenes, so I may have to resort to searching YouTube for it. Boooo!
So overall, I give this a 9 out of 10. Loved it, loved it, loved it!

A very good review...

List of what was cut from the Region 1 DVD (boo on whomever decided to do this!)

Some picspam for you to look at. There are some spoilers, but more importantly, the naked scenes are depicted. The poster's comments are also hilarious!


Anonymous said...

Don't go too hard on William Beck. I think they must have cut John Thorpe's scenes down and he really didn't have time to get the real John Thorpe across. Of course, William Beck is one of my obscure British actor crushes, so...

Irene said...

Thanks anonymous for the comment. To be fair, I was leaning towards the script not being quite as good as I had hoped to be for John Thorpe. As annoying as he is John Thorpe also happens to be one of my favourite characters in the books, mostly because he's a rattle (and a bonehead).

I've ween William Beck in Robin Hood before, so I have some comparisons with his acting. WB is a great actor, I suppose I just had really high expectations for John Thorpe (can one even have high expectations for that man? =P)

Ms. Place said...

I deleted my post, sorry. Bad spelling. I loved this version of Northanger Abbey. The casting was brilliant. My only quibble is that the film was too short. Why did ITV only order up 90 minutes of film? Didn't they know that the results would be superficial? I love JJ Feild and Felicity Jones in their respective roles. And William Beck, though hardly visible, was suitably slimy.