I just finished Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, and I think it has become one of my all-time favourite books already. It's also become my #1 favourite Austen book OVER Pride and Prejudice. This idea surprised me because Mansfield Park doesn't have the wit and humorous banter of the latter. However, I think what made me love it so much was the sweet disposition of the main character, Fanny, and the fact that I was already shipping Fanny with her future husband from the first moment he was introduced.
But to address the main question here... how did the 2007 movie live up to the book?
I think the movie did a good job of adapting the book to screen with a few revisions. One scene in the book has Fanny's uncle send her home to visit her family (whom she hasn't seen since she was nine years old) because he wants make her miss the guy whose proposal she rejected (and, ultimately, accept him if - rather, when - he were to ask again). In the movie, however, Fanny's uncle has Fanny stay at home when the rest of the family leaves on a trip. Not only does this punishment seem harsh, it didn't make as much sense with the rest of the story. It also doesn't make sense that Fanny's Aunt Bertram always complains that she needs Fanny at her side at all times, and then is suddenly fine with her getting married and going away. The book does this all much better.
However, I think the ending was done better in the movie. I was really disappointed that Edmund's realization of the fact that he loved Fanny was glossed over in such a way that there was almost nothing of the falling in love / wedding part. The movie did a much better job on fleshing out Jane Austen's last few pages. And that line "Let us make it our business, Mrs. Bertram, to be happy ever after"? That was a line that sounded like it just came out of the book - but it didn't.... which disappointed me greatly.
Book wins because book is better (in everything but that last chapter).
|Billie Piper as Fanny Price; Blake Ritson as Edmund Bertram|
In the book, Fanny is a sweet girl who doesn't talk much eitherbecause she is too shy or she believes she isn't good enough to be able to. While I love Billie Piper (mostly because of Doctor Who), she just didn't play Fanny right. Billie Piper portrays Fanny as a sweet girl, but she is also bright and lively and sometimes steps out of the low place her Aunt Norris puts her into. (Example: Aunt Norris reminds Fanny that she is lower than her cousins and should not step out of place at the ball. Fanny replies that she will always remember that -- unless she's having too much fun to remember. While this might seem fairly innocent, in the Austen's world, this would be quite significant and would be seen as Fanny sassing her aunt.)
The other characters, however, are played very well. I really liked how Blake Ritson carried himself as Fanny's dear cousin Edmund, and Michelle Ryan did a great job as Maria. (Actually, I was expecting her to turn bad any moment after seeing her play Nimueh in Merlin.) The rest of the cast was also stellar, although I did keep confusing Henry Crawford with Fanny's cousin Tom.
So while the rest of the characters are played perfectly, in my opinion, Fanny is unfortunately portrayed in a wrong way.
Book or Movie?
Book, obviously. But the movie does a really good job at adapting the book, a better job than movies usually do.
Book: 10 out of 10
Movie: 9 out of 10