Newness for a New Year

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Men of Jane Austen

If you haven't seen the new versions of Jane Austen's classic novels, then you should check out the Masterpiece Theatre website for the info. They have remade most of the novels. They play each Sunday on channel 7 at 8 p.m. This week is Mansfield Park. I have enjoyed both Persuasion and Northanger Abbey.


This is perhaps my favorite Austen novel. My overall impression of this version is that it was rushed. It was only an hour and half, which made much of the plot compressed. I enjoyed the characterization all in all, and I believe it emphasized different aspects of the story. The 1995 version is much more thorough and I still enjoy it, but this new version has some good points. Ann and Captain Wentworth seem much younger, which adds a different dynamic to the text--you don't believe they have really waited as long as they have. You get more out of Captain Wentworth's character development, which is good since he is quite dashing in this version. I do like that we see a little more passion from Ann, but she runs around a lot at the end and then it seems as though she is going to bite Wentworth's lip in the kiss. The entire kiss scene is awkward. But, I do enjoy the final scene. You would need to understand the story to really follow and enjoy this version.

Northanger Abbey

I had never read or seen this, so I went in with no previous concept. I enjoyed this quite a bit. It was strange not to know who was who or what was what, but having read and seen many other Austen works it was easy to follow the pattern. I just had to figure out who the good guy was and who was the secretly evil guy. It doesn't take long to figure out, but it was delightful to try and superimpose other Austen patterns. I finally figured it out when the good guy said he enjoyed long walks in nature--that seems to be a good trait among good Austen men. I would have enjoyed more characterization and some more plot detail, again, this felt a bit rushed. It seems as though Austen has usually been done in a very elongated fashion (just think of the long Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility), so these new versions feel especially condensed.

This next week will be Mansfield Park. You can watch a clip on the website.

As I was looking through the website, I came across this page about the men of Austen. It is great and very humorous. I find it funny how they present the men as if on a dating site and they also calculate their wealth in modern currency. I think that is funny since most of the Austen women could care less about money. You can see who the all-time favorite Austen man is. My own vote came in second.


Dan Simpson said...

I am one of the few guys who can say they have seen both of these (as well as the older persuasion). I too enjoyed Northanger Abbey, watched it last night with Alisa. Like I told her, you can see that this is an earlier Jane Austen novel, the story shows that she was still immature as a writer, and the characters and plot were not as deeply created as in her later works.

With Persuasion, I am going to have to respectfully disagree with you. I didn't like the new one much. Frankly, from most of the comments I have heard, I think girls liked it because Wentworth was better looking in this one. I would specifically disagree that his character was better developed in this one. I didn't feel like any of the characters were developed well. As you said the whole thing was rushed.

Like I told Alisa, right after we watched it, I thought they tried to force in passion and romance, instead of allowing the story to have it on its own. In the older version, the fact that they were very British and proper, in my opinion, infused the entire relationship with a deep undertone of passionate romance. While Wentworth may not have been as young and dashing in the older one, I would say that when he just slightly raises his hand for her to hold right before he kisses her near the end, that scene is infused with so much more feeling and romance than any bit of the new one.

I'm glad other people liked it, we can agree to disagree. I didn't like it much at all, and thought the older version superior in every way.

Alisa said...

I have really enjoyed the Austin movies. Althought as a whole I do like the older Persuasion better there were parts of the new that I did like quite abit. I really enjoyed Northangter Abbey. I liked Henry alot(Dan would say that is just because I think he looks like Jude Law but that is not why I like him) and I really liked Katherine. I am excited for Mansfield Park on Sunday. Even if I don't like them the best at least they didn't change the major characters like in the last Anne. All in all wonderful.

amy said...

Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel too. I think I like the 1995 movie better- there was just more time to develop characters and to show how Wentworth fell in love with her again (or found that he still loved her). It did just seem to rushed in this version.

And, you say the Austen women don't care about money... but don't they always end up with money (and love) anyway?

Emily said...

I love the book Persuasion it is my favorite of the Austen Novels. I agree this version was a bit rushed and that I still really love the 1985 version, however I decided the other night as I watched Persuasion for the third time and then watched Northanger Abbey this week, Austen in just about any form makes me happy and so I will take what I can get. As for Captain Wentworth, I quite enjoyed watching the new Wentworth and most of that maybe just because he is a beautiful boy, but that is okay by me. Thanks for the link to the website I voted for my favorite Austen man and alas Breanne he remains in second.

Alisa said...

I actually voted for Mr. Tilney. He is my favorite this week. I am sure that next week another one will take his place. Not that I am fickle. I love all the Austin men, for some of the same reasons and for different reasons. It really depends on the mood I'm in and who I am reading about. Loved the website, thanks for the link.

Dan Simpson said...

"I love all the Austen men"

Nice Alisa. Nice.

Thomas said...

I think you picked Wentworth because he is obviously the best-looking guy out of the bunch (I guess Mr. Collins comes close ...). I think Dan has a man crush on Brandon due to his good character.

Thomas said...

That would be Brandon's good character. After all, Dan does go after parents doing the best they can, right?
Breanne, love your posts. They are always interesting to read.

Jer said...

All I can say is that I'm now cheating on Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy with this new Persuasion guy. Yikes! It's okay, Chad knows I've got two boyfriends...