This fun and sexy comedy tells a timelessly entertaining story where wealth, secret passions, and mischievous women put love to the test ... with delightfully surprising results! When a spirited young woman, Fanny Price, i... more »s sent away to live on the great country estate of her rich cousins, she's meant to learn the ways of proper society. But while Fanny learns "their" ways, she also enlightens them with a wit and sparkle all her own! Featuring an exciting ensemble cast of young stars -- you'll join critics everywhere in their overwhelming praise of this smart, playful, and funny hit!« less
Mansfield Park starts with a young Fannie Price being sent away from her poverty stricken family to live with her Aunt and well to do cousins. It quickly becomes clear that Fannie is not thought of as a person of equal status at her new home. Sir Thomas says to his young daughters of Fannie as soon as she arrives...."You girls must never be arrogant towards her. She is not your equal but that must never be apparent to her." Fannie escapes into writing and books in order to cope with her new life. She also starts a friendship with her cousin Edmund.
The movie then quickly moves to a 20-something? Fannie and the melodrama begins. This is also where the movie starts losing a lot of its charm that it had started with. The main plot of the movie moves to the unwed adults trying to figure out who they will place themselves with. The problem I had with trying to connect with all the "coupling" was that almost all the potential matches are first cousins. I understand that in 1809 it was likely not rare for first cousins to pair up, but in this day and age it is generally thought of as indecent. Maybe my own prejudice clouded my judgement..but I just could not feel the romance that was trying to be created for any of the characters. This movie started out with a whole lot of charm and then just slowly progressed into doom and gloom.
I never read the Jane Austen novel that inspired this film...but if the book is anything like the movie, I think I will take a pass on reading the novel.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Will they EVER get this book right on film??
JLind555 | 12/05/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)
"It is really infuriating that Jane Austen's most profound book has been turned into two very frustrating movies. This most recent film version of "Mansfield Park" has Frances O'Connor playing Fanny Price as we perhaps wished Austen had presented her. She has some spirit; she's able to stand up for herself; she's much more her own person than she was portrayed in the BBC version. The only problem is, this is not Austen's Fanny Price. (Fanny was portrayed in the other extreme in the BBC version by Sylvestra LeTouzel; she was so whiny, holier-than-thou, judgemental and obnoxious in that film that we were left wondering what anyone could find attractive in this person.)
Not only is O'Connor's characterization not Austen's Fanny Price, this movie is not Austen's "Mansfield Park". Patricia Rozema took some appalling liberties with Austen's book; here we have Lady Bertram as an opium addict, which is supposed to explain her perpetual indolence; Sir Thomas is Simon Legree redux, and Edmund, who at least had some personality in the BBC version, albeit a moralizing, sanctimonious snob, is little more than a cypher in this film. And Mary Crawford, depicted by Austen as a kind, generous, sympathetic character, is shown here as nothing more than a conniving little gold-digger.
Austen tiptoed around the fact that the Bertram family's fortune came from the blood and toil of the slaves on the family's plantation in Antigua; Rozema shoves it right in the viewer's face with graphic images of Sir Thomas raping and abusing the hapless slaves. Austen was well aware that the slave trade was an abomination, but she didn't go into it in her book, and it doesn't belong in any movie that purports to be based on the book.
Taken on its own, the film is a fairly enjoyable period piece, and Frances O'Connor is a winning heroine; but no way in the world does this movie deserve the title of "Mansfield Park".
Might have turned out differently, I suppose. But it didn't.
CodeMaster Talon | Orlando, FL United States | 06/06/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"...And so we have "Mansfield Park", "loosely" based on the Jane Austen novel of same name (although, as is mentioned in the credits, Austen's letters and non-fiction writings are also used, particularly for dialogue). The characters keep their original names, but, for the most part, not their personalities. The heroine, Fanny Price, is changed from the quiet, deeply moral character of the book into a feisty tomboy. The story follows the basic threads of the novel, but adds several subplots and individual scenes that you are not likely to find in any Austen novel (Fanny's uncle giving her the once over, Mary Crawford giving her the once over, etc.). So why the four stars?
Well, as an adaptaion, the film only merits two at best. But taken by itself and judged as a movie, I have to admit it's quite entertaining. While not the Fanny of the book, as played by Frances O'Conner the Fanny of the film is extremely likable. Embeth Davidtz and the very appealing Alessandro Nivola have a lot of fun with their characters; Nivola in particular capturing the mixture of sleaziness and vulnerablity that makes the womanizing Henry Crawford ever so slightly attractive. The visuals are sumptuous, and the dialogue is laced with Austen's unique wit, much of it not in the novel. My only real problems with the film are with the slavery subplot (icky and distracting) and Johnny Lee Miller as Fanny's true love. Changing the chracters personalities also changes their motivations, and the actions of Edward, while making sense in the book, are not logical in the film. As a result, Miller's Edward comes off as wimpy and indecisive and detracts from the story.
Other than these two quibbles, I quite like this little movie. You are more likely to enjoy it, I think, if you aren't comparing it to the novel the entire time, as it really has very little to do with Austen's story. Taken as a straight period film, though, "Mansfield Park" is an enjoyable way to spend a rainy afternoon."
Not for Austen purists
Peaseblossom | New York State | 06/28/2001
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This movie SEEMS to be Mansfield Park. The characters have all the right names, the action has a superficial resemblance to that of the novel, but there all similarities end!This is a very modern Mansfield Park, regardless of the early 19th century setting. Viewers are caught up in a tale of the evils of slavery and the value of women's scholarship. Not exactly the focus of the novel!There are some redeeming features. The costuming is beautiful; Mr. Rushworth, Julia, and Maria are gratifyingly self-absorbed and absurd; the differences between the Price and Bertram households are well-drawn. Austen fans will enjoy quotes from Fanny's writing: they are taken from the early stories of Austen herself. However, the makers of this movie have made Fanny Price a very different sort of creature from the novel. Blooming and beautiful, sometimes sharp-tongued, she has little in common with the character in the novel. The director has chosen to introduce elements not present in the novel. Sir Thomas, for example, due to a family business in trading slaves (never mentioned in the original), has gone from a dignified, rather stuffy but honorable man in the novel, to a degraded and rather disturbing man in the film. In the movie, he looks Fanny up and down as if she is a slave for sale, and arranges the famous ball of the novel as a way of "selling" her in marriage. And having brought in the anti-slavery subplot, the director simply dismisses it at the end, saying "Sir Thomas eventually gave up his interests in Antigua." Sharply lacking is any of the satiric eye Austen cast on society. We are given the melodrama, but little of Austen's sharp wit. Very few of Aunt Norris' snobby ways have made it into the movie; the great scenes involving the "improvements" at Sotherton are missing. Fanny's brother William is missing entirely. Why bother to even mention this is based on an Austen novel? There is little enough resemblance."
Significant Departure from Canon
Wendy Barron | Richmond, BC, Canada | 01/30/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I am a huge Jane Austen fan, and have read all her books at least ten times. This must be clearly understood, or nothing useful can come from this review. (To paraphrase Dickens.)Mansfield Park is probably the least well-loved of Austen's novels in general, and this is partly because the book is far more serious in tone than her other, more famous works (Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Northanger Abbey). The heroine, Fanny Price, rather than being healthy, hearty, lively and witty, is a bit weak and sickly of body, serious and studious of mind, and, frankly, a bit of a tedious old stick sometimes. Of all Austen's other characters, Fanny Price most closely resembles Mary Bennet from Pride & Prejudice, who was ridiculed even within her own family for being so serious, so studious, and so completely plain. Fanny is not an easy character to identify with, or to love, particularly in this day and age of self-help books, support groups, and psychotherapy (all of which she would most likely be involved in were she alive today). She is highly judgmental (or so I found her), for she has extremely high standards of behaviour that her family are all too likely to fail to live up to, and in the novel she seems to serve primarily as a moral compass for the reader. She is also, however, timid to a fault. When she speaks her mind in public, which she is seldom able to do, given how she is treated by most of her family, she often speaks so gently that those who would most benefit from her message never even hear her words.Given this, the task of bringing Fanny to life on film, would be a daunting one indeed. How to write a screenplay starring a completely un-heroic heroine? The obvious answer - perhaps the only answer - is to change the character of Fanny, and this is what the screenwriter did. In this film, Fanny is everything she is not in the book - funny, lively, healthy, firm, decisive, active, and a writer. (In the book, she is a reader.) She is engaging and easy to identify with. We cheer for her and want her to come out on top, as in the end she must.The story of Mansfield Park so hinges on Fanny being exactly as Austen wrote her that, after seeing the trailer for the film, I watched the movie more from curiosity than interest. As a film, it is entertaining enough. The story is similar enough to Austen's to satisfy anyone with a taste for the period but no extensive knowledge of the novel, and the casting and acting is good, as I remember. As an adaptation of the work of one of the greatest authors in English literature, however, it falls far short of expectations raised by the excellent recent versions of several other Austen works, Pride and Prejudice (BBC 1995), Emma (also BBC), and Sense and Sensibility (with Emma Thompson). It is no more faithful an adaptation than the 1940 version of Pride and Prejudice (starring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson), whose Lady Catherine disappointed me by being nice at the end. The most jarring difference between the book and the movie, for me, was the reference to slaves providing the family's income. The eldest son's (Tom's) discovery and knowledge of exactly what has provided him with his comfortable life, is one of the movie's most dramatic, and certainly its most brutal, moments. In the book, Austen makes no reference whatsoever to what provides the family's income. She was, after all, a (mostly) gentle satirist about society and manners, and although she likely knew about slavery, there could be no need to mention it in her works of fiction. Indeed, in the book the prolonged absence of Sir Thomas Bertram (the story's other moral compass) seems engineered solely to allow his family to behave very badly indeed, and get themselves into such situations as could never have arisen had he been around, for life was very dull and predictable when he was around. There was no especial need for the destination to be Antigua; anywhere some weeks' distance away would have done just as well.The injection of the modern sensibility of abhorrence of slavery seemed to me to be gratuitous, and an indication that, although he had a flair for the dramatic, the screenwriter had no particular understanding of or love for the original work, nor the patience to work through Austen's own plotline to the end. We did get there eventually, but I found this movie much less satisfying than the book."
Should be rated "R"
Theresa S. Mcallister | Oregon, United States | 08/09/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"A disappointing treatment of a great book. One of the main themes of the movie is that slavery is bad and should be outlawed. ... DVD includes graphic drawings, being thrust without warning on viewer, of women being [violated]. Also, in one scene, the main character walks in on a couple engaged in intimate relations, again, the viewer doesn't have time or warning to turn away. The DVD should have been rated "R". The images border on being [in poor taste]. Again, very disappointing compared to other Jane Austen movies."