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12/02/2013

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Fred

I hated how shoehorned-in the slavery subplot felt in the movie. Like it was making an awkward appearance from another movie entirely. I know the divestment from the Caribbean was supposed to represent the moral arc of the family, but the execution felt totally ham-fisted. It sounds like the changes to Fanny reflected a similar lack of subtlety on the filmmakers' part.

Erin

Hi Jane. :D Stopped by to see what you were up to and found this post very interesting. I read Mansfield Park for the first time last year, and just a month or so ago watched the movie while I was home sick. So my memory of it may be a little addled. ;)

I really loved MP the book, though I also completely understand the criticism of Fanny, which seems to be common in the Austen community. What I saw Austen doing -- which she may or may not have intended -- was something really interesting with regard to issues of class (which are kind of toyed with but not dived into in P&P). Fanny's timidity seems a function of her class situation, which we see illustrated in particular because we begin with her at such a young age. Ordinarily I think I would have tended to be highly critical of such a shy character, but about the only thing that really annoyed me about her was her somewhat inexplicable prudishness (more the inexplicable than the prudishness).

I enjoyed the movie, but I agree with Fred that the presentation of the slavery issue seemed kind of extreme and out of place. It was an interesting topic, and I might not have minded the update, but the execution was decidedly gratuitous and seemed melodramatic.

I have to wonder if the update to Fanny's demeanor was a function of the shifting issue of class, also. Almost as if it was an admission that modern western audiences in particular would not tolerate such a timid heroine. I really like Frances O'Connor, so maybe I gave the movie too much of a pass, but the update to Fanny's character seemed a kind of light modernization, an attitudinal shift that parallels emphasizing the also class- and economic-related update to the presentation of slavery. I saw both Fannys as primarily illustrations that women, no matter their birth, can have a heroic adherence to their principles, and so the muting of her timidity didn't quite seem so glaring. I have to go back now and think about the book and whether the message you describe is more critical to the theme... it could also be I forgive that trait's absence because I disliked it in the book.

Hope you're doing well. :)

RepCom1140

One of these days I'm going to read Mansfield Park, if only because I keep remembering it being discussed in Whit Stillman's Metropolitan!

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