Monday, March 19, 2007

Mansfield Park redux ... again!

Patricia Rozema brought us 'feisty Fanny' in the 2000 film . Then there was the original BBC six-parter which, nominally true to Ms Austen's script, brought us 'dowdy, plain-jane Fanny' and a difficult-to-believe final romance. And last night ITV presented 'Tardis Fanny', as Billie Piper scampered around the 90 minutes of film and 30 minutes of adverts constituting the latest Mansfield Park.

The use of just the one set obviously saved money, and the deletion of Fanny's exile to Portsmouth saved both time and money. What was left of Ms Austen's complex tapestry? Sadly just plot #5 in the standard lexicon:

"Girl loves boy, boy fancies other-girl, other-boy takes unwanted fancy to girl, other-boy shown to be a bad lot, other-girl found to be a bad lot, boy sees error of ways, girl marries boy."

With nothing left going for it, the plot jolted and shuddered its way through the required algorithm, jettisoning pieces of superfluous Austen back-story en route. It finally disolved into a sickly cloud of sugar.

Trivia point: Billie Piper looks quite decorous from some angles, but when she smiles, images of a large mare come inescapably to my mind. She may have topical street cred with ITV's target audience right now but I'm really not sure about her shelf life. To be fair, her acting was by no means the worst (which might be reserved for the actor playing Edmund).

And another thing, I'm really not sure about cousin marriages!

Next week the delights of the 'reduced Austen company' doing Northanger Abbey. We then get Persuasion and a repeated version of Emma (details here).