Monday, October 26, 2009

Top 10 Austen adaptations: #3

~No. 3 - Persuasion 1995~

Persuasion 1995
Amanda Root as Anne Elliot and Ciaran Hinds as Captain Frederick Wentworth

This is *the* Jane Austen movie for Janeites. That's not to say that every Jane Austen fan will love this film, but chances are, if you enjoy reading Jane Austen's novels, you will love this adaptation of Persuasion (my favourite Austen novel, BTW). 

Persuasion 1995
Mary Musgrove (Sophie Thompson), Charles Musgrove (Simon Russell Beale), Louisa Musgrove (Emma Roberts), Henrietta Musgrove (Victoria Hamilton), Captain Wentworth (Ciaran Hinds)

It's one of the "forgotten" Austen adaptations of the 1990s. P&P95, S&S95, and Gwyneth Paltrow's Emma tend to grab all of the attention. I didn't even know that this adaptation existed until relatively recently. It's not big-budget or glamorous, there are no big-name actors, but it has a quiet brilliance of its own.

Persuasion 1995

Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds are admittedly too "old" to play protagonists Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth (Anne is supposed to be 27, Wentworth just a few years older), but their performances are so good, their "old-ness" isn't really a problem. :-) I have to admit, Anne and particularly Captain Wentworth in this version don't look as I imagined them to look, but when an actor nails his/her character this well, mere looks aren't such a big deal!

Persuasion 1995
Luminous. . . Amanda Root as Anne Elliot

The cinematography matches the feel of the story - subtle, understated, but still beautiful. The same could be said of the scenery. . . the soundtrack. . . in fact, pretty much every aspect of this film. See why I said this was a film for Janeites? :-) As with Jane's books, it's all about subtlety here - and substance as well as style.

Persuasion 1995

The screenplay by Nick Dear was good. Jane Austen's novels are more difficult to translate to film than most people realise. Because much of the wit and humour comes from the narrator, screenwriters are left with two options: put the narrator's witty words into the mouths of one or more of the characters, or simply leave out most of the best lines of the book. Here, Nick Dear goes with the former choice. Several lines from the narrator are given to various characters - an example from when Sir Walter is welcoming Anne after she arrives at Bath: "I am glad you here, Anne," [or something of that nature] "You will make a fourth at dinner, which must be deemed an advantage". That's from the film. Whereas in the book:

Anne entered it with a sinking heart, anticipating an imprisonment of many months, and anxiously saying to herself, "Oh! when shall I leave you again?" A degree of unexpected cordiality, however, in the welcome she received, did her good. Her father and sister were glad to see her, for the sake of shewing her the house and furniture, and met her with kindness. Her making a fourth, when they sat down to dinner, was noticed as an advantage. 

Persuasion 1995
Admiral and Mrs. Croft (John Woodvine and Fiona Shaw)

The supporting cast are wonderful. Period drama fanatics will spot many familiar faces. Sophie Thompson is superb as the Mrs. Bennet-esque Mary Musgrove. Victoria Hamilton, who appeared in no less than three Austen movies in the space of four years (P&P 95, MP 99) plays Henrietta Musgrove. Fiona Shaw is delightful as Mrs. Croft. If you've watched the BBC's Narnia movies, you'll recognise Mr. Elliot (Samuel West) as King Caspian from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Whenever he comes onscreen I immediately think "Oh, it's Prince Caspian!". . . 

Persuasion 1995

Hmm. . . what else is there to be said in this review. . . not much, except for "Watch this movie!!" It won't appeal to everyone - I know there are a few people who find this adaptation "dull" and slow-paced (including several of my siblings ;-) ) - but as I said before, most readers who enjoyed the book will appreciate this marvellous film interpretation. It truly is a movie to be savoured. 

Persuasion 1995

15 comments:

emme said...

I love this series, Elise! Your reviews and selections seem well thought out & I find your descriptions delightfully well written. Good job! :)

I do like this film. I think that overall it is one of the better translations of Austen from book to screen, but I do wish they didn't always feel the need to make Anne older, almost homely in appearance, and somewhat dowdy. That is NOT the feel that I got of Anne from Austen's original work. :)

Oh, well. I still really enjoy watching this film!

~Emily

the W. family said...

I like this film a lot. But maybe that's because Persuasion is my favorite JA book.:)
I've heard it has the most accurate costuming of all the Jane Austen adaptations. :)
~Alyssa

The Editrix said...

Emily - thankyou so much!! :-D I'm glad you're enjoying the series.

I do wish they didn't always feel the need to make Anne older, almost homely in appearance, and somewhat dowdy. That is NOT the feel that I got of Anne from Austen's original work. :)

Yes, I agree. But like you, I still enjoyed the movie. :-)

Alyssa, about the costumes - is that so? I didn't know. It makes sense - the costumes in Persuasion do look less glamourous and more like clothes than the costumes in most period dramas.

LadyBug-Laurie said...

I adore this adaptation, it is the adaptation of Persuasion, the definitive. My parents both love this one, it's wonderful! One of the best. :)

The Editrix said...

^Ditto :-)

Miss Jen said...

Indeed~ I love this film!!! :>)
It's one of my favorites...
simply delightful! *sigh*
The music and casting is superb.

Ciaran Hinds also played in
Ivanhoe!! Have you seen that film?

Love~ Jen

The Editrix said...

No, I haven't seen Ivanhoe! I should probably read the book first. . . I'll add it to my to-read list. . . which is probably about 100 books long by now, LOL.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

I'm afraid I'm in the minority here. Nearly everyone else I know seems to love this movie, but when another Austen fan and I tried to watch it, we turned it off after fifteen minutes because it was just so boring for some reason. =(

Barbara said...

This is my favourite Austen book and film :)

the W. family said...

Elise,
Here is a link to an article by Jennie Chancey about the costuming in a few of the Jane Austen adaptations:
http://www.fortunecity.com/lavender/heat/218/austen2.html
If you scroll down a little she talks about this version of Persuasion. It's very interesting!

~Alyssa :)

The Editrix said...

Thanks for the link! *trots off to check out the link*

neunfuenf said...

Completely agree with the line: Ciaran and Amanda are "too old" for the parts but...... :)

Sylvie said...

I don't really agree about the age topic. Remember that in those times a thirty years old woman was already past the use-by date. As for Ciarán Hinds (ok I admit I'm partial there) he is the best Wentworth I can imagine. What do you think a captain who has survived the Napoleonic wars must have looked like? Certainly not the pretty things we use to see in most period dramas :-)
Anyway "Persuasion" is my favourite Austen book and I can't get tired of watching this movie.

The Editrix said...

True, people would have aged earlier then.

As for Ciarán Hinds (ok I admit I'm partial there) he is the best Wentworth I can imagine. What do you think a captain who has survived the Napoleonic wars must have looked like? Certainly not the pretty things we use to see in most period dramas :-)

Very true! In fact, that was one of the problems I had with Rupert Penry-Jones as Wentworth in the 2007 version.

Maria Elisabeth said...

Oh, I've heard a lot about this and I'd love to watch it, but I can't find it on youtube or get it from the library, the corner store wouldn't have it to rent, and I have this habit of making sure I love movies before buying them.

Oh well. It'll be on my birthday list, anyways.