Masterpiece Theatre: Northanger Abbey
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What the early 80's version of "Northanger Abbey" (starring Peter Firth and Katherine Schlesinger) lacked, this version more than makes up for. NA 07 (as it is fondly known among Janeites) stars newcomers Felicity Jones (Servants), JJ Feild (Nicholas Nickleby, Ruby in the Smoke), William Beck (Robin Hood) and Carey Mulligan (Pride & Prejudice), and British tv and stage veterans Liam Cunningham, Sylvestra LeTouzel ('80s Mansfield Park) and Gerry O'Brien. Screenplay is by Andrew Davies, who also penned the well-loved and swoon-inducing period drama favorites Pride & Prejudice (1995), Daniel Deronda, Doctor Zhivago (2002 tv version), Middlemarch and Wives & Daughters. True British period drama fans do not need introduction to him or his work.
Those have read the books know the story. For the novice, the story is as follows: young 17-year old Catherine Morland accompanies the wealthy Mr. and Mrs. Allen to Bath for her first introduction to Georgian society. She meets the charming Henry Tilney and gregarious John Thorpe who both vie for her attentions, and befriends John's sister Isabella and Henry's sister Eleanor. She meets General Tilney (Henry's father), who mistakenly takes her for an heiress. After the whirlwind social life of Bath, she is invited by the Tilneys to their country estate, Northanger Abbey, where - due to the influence of her fondness for gothic novels - she thinks up some fanciful ideas about the General.Read more ›
On a trip to Bath Catherine Morland meets two men who immediately become interested in her romantically: Henry Tilney and John Thorpe. Felicity Jones as Catherine Morland is a great choice: she is so sweet and innocent and yet imagines such dark and sensual goings on in her dreams as well as during her trip to Northanger Abbey, ancestral home of Henry Tilney (JJ Field). The wild imaginings and fantasies of Catherine that are sparked by her love of gothic romances (novels), lead her down a path that may change the course of her future!Read more ›
I was nervous about seeing it adapted for the screen. I haven't seen the old versions because of there overwhelmingly bad reviews, but as I loved and read the book, I felt that it would be very difficult to adapt for the screen. As someone else mentioned, much of the humor is in Austen's wonderful narration and frequent side comments to her readers. Also, the work is a parody of two genres not well known anymore: the "innocent girl enters society" novels of writers like Frances Burney, and the original Gothic novel as typefied by Anne Radcliffe. Even for readers of the book, it is disjointing when the parody switches genres halfway through when Catherine leaves Bath for Northanger Abbey.
Luckily, the film adaptors handled it masterfully, disregarding most of the parodying of Burney-type works for a consistant ribbing of gothic fiction played out in Catherine's over-acted fantasy scenes based on the novels she is reading, which also serve to familiarize the modern viewer with the genre being lampooned.
The only serious problem is roles Catherine is romanticizing in her fantasies. Catherine seems to fantasize about her abductors and captors, giving excited and inviting looks to the imaginary robber as he fondles her gold necklace, and grinning rapturously at her prison guard before fainting into his arms. This is not what Gothic heroines do, at least not the one's Catherine idolizes. What they seem to have missed is that there were two genres of Gothic fiction going on at this time.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
DELIGHTFUL! I liked this film a lot and I spend a nice moment watching it. Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Maciej
I love Jane Austen and Masterpiece Theatre does them all so well.Published 18 days ago by Barbara A Streiffert
This version cuts nearly 10 of film that is included in the UK DVD. And, inexplicably, the UK version was less expensive than the American one, even with shipping.Published 26 days ago by J. Veit
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|Will they release an uncut version?||
I think I have posted this three times now so I hope I'm not driving everyone crazy! I was curious as to the scenes that were missing. Once I bought it I realized that it was shorter but cannot put my finger on which scenes are missing. I wish I had come here first and bought it from the UK... Read More
Sep 20, 2008 by Alena | See all 5 posts