Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Monday, January 21, 2008

Goth Girl Goodness abounds in PBS' Northanger Abbey

After last week's dismal debut of Persuasion in Masterpiece Theater's Complete Jane Austen series,I was truly praying and hoping that the new take on Northanger Abbey would more than make up for that. Well,my prayers were answered,folks.

This second cinematic adaptation of Austen's posthumously published Gothic parody was an utter delight,especially in the casting of Felicity Jones as the naively charming heroine Catherine Morland and JJ Field as her sweetly sardonic suitor,Henry Tilney.

Andrew Davies' script does the job of keeping in step with the pace of the source novel's plotline while adjusting it slightly for some original twists and turns. Some might quibble over the few bits of spice sprinkled into the story(particularly in Isabella's saucy subplot)but I for one didn't feel that it interfered with the true purpose of the plot,which was to show how firing up an overactive imagination can cause a person to be distracted by a false fanciful notion,making them blind to the real situations right under their nose.

Unlike the earlier version of NA,made in the mid 1980s,the costumes are not out of sync with the time period and Catherine's Goth lit inspired fantasy sequences don't look like outtakes from a Hammer movie. We are spared from such disturbing images as Mrs. Allen sewing her fingers together and pageboys doing cartwheels on the lawn,for no earthly reason whatsoever.

This version of NA is much more fresh and lively,with the gothic accents given a light visual touch. I also appreciated the love of reading and pleasures of sharing a favorite book with friends(even such sneaky ones as the Thorpes)fully blended into the story.

It's a good movie to show to those who haven't been exposed to Austen's writing before,especially young people. I think that alot of teen girls can easily identify with the gossiping giggles of Isabella and Catherine,not to mention the difference in romantic overtures between John Thorpe(way too pushy) and Henry Tilney:



In short,this long delayed Northanger Abbey was well worth the wait. A round of applause to all involved is entirely appropriate here and this is one new Austen inspired DVD that I will want to have on my video shelf.

Next Sunday will bring the latest version of Mansfield Park,a book that has a rather mixed following amongst Austen fans and it's film versions are just as contentious. I vastly prefer the 1983 miniseries,which starred NA's current Mrs. Allen(Sylvestra Le Touzel)but the incompatible Anna Massey as the passionately passive aggressive Aunt Norris,one of my favorite love-to-hate Austen characters.

Hopefully,this take on Fanny Price will be somewhat better than the 1999 Patricia Rozema version(which I refuse to own,but must confess to having a edition of MP with this movie's tie-in book cover. In my defense,I bought it long before I ever saw the film.)and it's not totally fair to compare a miniseries to a two hour film. I'll probably have my fingers crossed while watching this film,since it is not an Andrew Davies adaptation and the actress playing Fanny(Billie Piper)has extremely messy hair,not a good sign of things to come:

No comments: