Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Fanny not sent to Portsmouth in new Mansfield Park adaptation

Radio Times online ( is now featuring a billing notice for Mansfield Park, to air on ITV on March 18th, 9pm-11pm.

Featured below are a few snippets from the text which warrant mentioning:

A lively adaptation of the Jane Austen classic for ITV1, starring Billie Piper. .... Although she's aware of her debt of gratitude towards her aunt and uncle fromthe start, Fanny struggles to adjust to aristocratic protocol and the daily reminders of her inferiority to her relatives. ....

'Aristocratic' protocol is an interesting take on life at Mansfield Park.

.... notably because Fanny refuses the 'charms' of Henry Crawford, in this production -

'As punishment Fanny is left in solitude at Mansfield. Fanny now deeply misses Edmund and anxiously waits for news that he has proposed to Mary. Before long the family arrive home with Tom, who has caught pneumonia after over indulgence.'

OK, here is our first sign of a major change between source text and film. Fanny stays alone at Mansfield Park rather than being sent away to Portsmouth and her own, poor family, as a punishment for refusing Henry Crawford. Presumably this was for budget reasons, ensuring the shoot was more or less focused on Newby Hall (Mansfield Park). But this might mean we have lost William Price (her brother), Susan Price (sister), and of course, the degradations of life away from the luxuries at Mansfield Park. And how then does Henry try to win her over?? Seems strange. Fanny is merely left to pine it seems ... while Henry gets on with seducing Maria. Which also makes me wonder - presuming Fanny is not seen pining away for too long, which would be awfully dull - this film must make up a lot time ELSEWHERE, covering other aspects of the novel. What then? Rozema's screenplay managed to cover Portsmouth and Henry's extended courtship - and that was film-length also.

And after much soul-searching and abominable rudeness from Mary Crawford ...

'Edmund is horrified and tells Mary that the woman he thought he loved never existed. Finally his eyes are opened and he realises that he's been in love with Fanny all along.'

I wish I could get more excited about this production. Something in the publicity shots has left me cold. Not sure if it's Billie herself. Or perhaps Blake Ritson, who seems too shiny eyed and bushy-tailed ... like a gleaming blackbird (and I am true devotee of Jonny Lee Miller's 'sensitive' Edmund in Rozema's 1999 Mansfield Park - so it's going to be tough for Ritson to win me over).

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