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Masterpiece Theatre: Mansfield Park
Masterpiece Theatre Mansfield Park
Actors: Billie Piper, Blake Ritson
Director: Iain B. MacDonald
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
NR     2008     1hr 30min

In one of Austen's most complex plots, Billie Piper (Doctor Who, The Ruby in the Smoke) stars as Fanny Price, who goes to live with prosperous relatives at Mansfield Park. Fanny navigates a labyrinth of intrigues and affai...  more »

     

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Movie Details

Actors: Billie Piper, Blake Ritson
Director: Iain B. MacDonald
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Drama, British Television
Studio: WGBH Boston
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 01/29/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2007
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 43
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Member Movie Reviews

Heather L. from FERGUS FALLS, MN
Reviewed on 1/9/2008...
As long as you don't mind period incorrect hairstyles, this isn't a bad adaptation of Jane Austen's classic book. But it isn't great either. I just didn't get the spirit of book when watching this. The characters didn't seem the same.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Could have been better......
Marcy Gomez | Kansas City, USA | 12/18/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen fans have yet to find an adaptation of "Mansfield Park" that truly does justice to the novel. "Pride & Prejudice" and "Persuasion" have their share of successes, with the 1995 versions and the recent versions having (for the most part) become instant classics and fan favorites. But not so for poor "Mansfield Park."

I wanted so badly to love this version, especially with all the press hoopla surrounding the casting of Billie Piper (Dr. Who). The 1980s version starring Sylvestra Le Touzel remains the most faithful adaptation of the book, but has become outdated, is slow moving and tends to drag in places. The 1990s version starring Frances O'Connor is an anathema to Austen purists. This is Mansfield Park in name only, and is a slap on the face for true fans of the book. In short, Janeites were ready for a new and improved adaptation of "Mansfield Park."

Sadly though, this new version falls short of expectations. If you have not read the book, then you will probably like it. If you have - and especially if you count yourself as an Austen purist - then there are many aspects of this version that you may find irritating (or worse..).

I dislike starting my reviews on a negative note, but I was disappointed with this one. Among the shortcomings are as follows (warning - SPOILERS):

- Casting of Billie Piper and Maggie O'Neill. Personally, I find Billie's blonde hair and dark eyebrows very distracting and far too modern for a period piece. Ladies in the Regency era tied their hair back in a bun but the filmmakers totally disregarded this and left Billie to run around like a wild child instead of a proper Regency lady. I also took issue to Maggie O'Neill who was not quite the right age and was a tad too "fine looking" as the widow Mrs. Norris.
- Very choppy beginning. It almost feels like the first half hour is filmed in hand-held camera. It is annoying and gave me a headache.
- Too many scenes were altered or omitted entirely. Many characters do not even make an appearance. There is no visit to the Price family home in Portsmouth; no visit to the Rushworth home; Maria and Julia Bertram disappear in the second act, when Maria and Rushworth marry; Maria and Julia Bertram and Mr. Yates are mere cyphers and don't have much to do; other than William Price, all the other Prices (including Susan) are absent in this story...and the list goes on.
- Scenes jump around and there is little coherence to the screenplay. Novices to the story will be confused (especially in the beginning) as new characters come and go, there is little character development and no fluidity as the scenes move from one to another. Everything in the first act is rushed and you feel like the filmmakers are trying to cram hundreds of pages of storyline into the first half hour.

There is, however, a light at the end of the tunnel. The story does improve as you go along and the last half hour provides some memorable highlights. Blake Ritson's Edmund proves to be swoon-worthy in some key (romantic) scenes from the book. The 'thunderbolt' scene (you will know what I mean when you see it) up until the end is certainly worth seeing. Jemma Redgrave's Lady Bertram also does some scene stealing of her own.

Most of the cast are perfect for their roles. Blake Ritson is quite dashing (in a solemn, Byronic way) and handsome as Edmund Bertram and Joe Beattie makes for a charming and attractive Henry Crawford. Jemma Redgrave, Douglas Hodge (Sir Thomas Bertram), Hayley Atwell (Mary Crawford), Michelle Ryan (Maria Bertram) and others are well cast. Hayley Atwell shines as the scheming, manipulative and lovely Mary Crawford. Jemma Redgrave's portrayal of Lady Bertram is a change from the book, but I actually liked it. She gave an otherwise bland character added dimension and some warmth. Douglas Hodge (a veteran of British period dramas) is excellent as always.

All in all, this version has a bumpy beginning but a much improved second act, overall good casting, mediocre screenplay and what appears to be a relatively low budget (all of the scenes were filmed in one location - yes, no kidding). If you want a more faithful adaptation of Mansfield Park, look to the 1980s version starring Sylvestra Le Touzel and Nicholas Farrell (who, incidently, play Mrs. Allen and Mr. Musgrove in the new versions of "Northanger Abbey" and "Persuasion", respectively).

Of the 3 recent Austen tv adaptations, this is my least favorite. For my choices in the recent Masterpiece Theater dramas, my vote goes to "Northanger Abbey" with "Persuasion" a distant second. I have yet to see the new version of "Sense & Sensibility" so I will reserve judgement until then. This "Mansfield Park" is certainly worth a viewing, just make sure to keep your expectations in check."
A decent adaptation of Mansfield Park
randomartco | Greater Washington D.C. area | 01/09/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Of the three iTV 90-minute films done this year, Mansfield Park is my least favorite:
Persuasion and Northanger Abbey were just much better done (even with their faults & foibles). As always, there is not a great adaptation of Mansfield Park available: the 80's version is fairly true to the book, but that Fanny is not my favorite in casting: the 90's version is too modernernized, and this one again, just ends up missing the mark. For one, the story is too much condensed, with so much being left out, that I was almost shocked, for one, to have met Mr Rushworth within the first 4 minutes of the film.

The casting of Billie Piper worked out somewhat: she does a good job of being active of mind and body, but never quite gets the tone of humbleness and quiet servitude which should also accompany this, in the person of Fanny Price. Her blond hair hanging loose and wild (it's never up in a proper Regency hairdo) is far too unrealistic for me, to what would have been expected of a young Regency woman, poor dependent or not (I'm sorry, but her hair would have always been up or pulled back! EXCEPT maybe when she's in her own bedroom). Blake Ritson as Edmund is fine casting, as well as Hayley Atwell as Mary Crawford, Joseph Beattie as Henry Crawford, and Jemma Redgrave as Lady Betram. I found the whole story a bit rushed and stilted, and it seemed to be a whirlwind: if I, avid reader of Jane Austen, had trouble following the storyline, how much more so would someone who had not read the book?

Content: there are some things to be aware of: some cleavage is shown, sexual innuendos, an engaged woman kisses a man who is not her fiancé, there is talk of a scandal where a married woman runs off with another man, a scene where a woman is washing her hair in a basin and a man comes in to talk with her, there is not much else: it is pretty tame.

Although it was a bit of a disappointment, I can appreciate certain moments in the film, where the fine acting of some shines through, and with good costuming to eye and things along that line, it is an enjoyable way to wile away 90 minutes: not up to par they way that I would have hoped, but all in all, and enjoyable version of Mansfield Park until one better comes along.

"
Disappointing
wisdomstar | Michigan | 01/28/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)

"While Mansfield Park is not the most appealing of the Austen novels, it deserved a better effort than this latest version. Most fans of Austen have read the original books, so we understand much of the manners, custom and dress of the times, and have certain expectations. Other reviewers have pointed out the problems, and I agree with them. I also could not get past Fanny's appearance (which was more like a bar maid than even a servant) to have any empathy for the character. I did not understand the director's decision to dress everyone else in the piece for the period and not the main character. Keeping every scene in one spot and mostly in the same room might have been cost effective but hardly does justice to the richer world that Austen was so adept at portraying. Although I own most DVD versions of other Austen productions, I know I will not want to see this again. My recommendation is to watch it on PBS or rent it before you buy."