Friday, February 17, 2017

Movie Spotlight: Mansfield Park (1986)

'We have all been more or less to blame ...

every one of us, excepting Fanny'

Taken from the poverty of her parents' home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny's uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation. As her female cousins vie for Henry's attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary's dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords' influence and finds herself more isolated than ever.

I borrowed that description from Goodreads. Borrowing a book description for a movie review - one might ask - isn't that a little strange? I see your point. Most times I would say so myself, but of any novel I've seen blossoming on the screen this one is so much like the book that I can hardly think of them apart. In fact - particularly in the case of one Tom - I don't in the least try. :)

Moving with careful and serious step Mansfield Park, both in movie and book form can seem quite slow at times, but throughout it threads an important message of the dangers of compromise. Thinking of it in that way, perhaps it's slow pace is not such a riddle after all.

In the end, though they feel the effect of it, neither the heroine Fanny, nor the hero Edmund are either particularly involved in, or even on the scene of the disastrous climax, and that really brings us to who Fanny is as a person. The pageant of life swirls around her and she both feels like, and is very much, the quiet onlooker. The people around her are caught up in the thrill and excitement of new friends and romance, and she is sitting by much as she has always been until the very end, and she is brought into the blinding limelight; and then she not even half-likes it. It's quite odd actually, but until I wrote the above about Fanny I never really thought of it; however, I think that is one of the reasons I feel so very much akin to her. I'm not exactly like her, of course, and I don't have an Edmund to be concerned about, but I understand her all the same.

Finally, there is Tom... Tom the teasing and serious; Tom, the person with the most sparkling smile in movie history. Vivid and alive, every scene he is in has just that much more sparkle; how could one not love him?

Of any character in the story I think he changes the most. Edmund and Sir Thomas make blind mistakes, but the thread of Tom's redemption - even as it is somewhat behind the more intense action of the story - glows strong. And that I believe is why one can love him so; beginning with being heedless and passionate about the wrong things, to the end where he sees, and is utterly cast down by the error of his ways. You just know that that same energy with which he pursued the wrong things he will put into steady pursuits. In fact the book says so, and I firmly believe it.

There is of course so much more to the film, from its views of pastel countryside to gracious drawing rooms glimmering with candlelight; as a thoughtful sort of book/movie it is one that calls for revisiting over and over again. And isn't it the best stories that reveal their secrets over time?

(Due to the nature of the villain there are two "scenes", however, they are easily skipped over.)

Note: This review is posted as part of Hamlette's I Love Austen Week.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...