94 of 97 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming (and restrained for Andrew Davies!)
This is a lovely adaptation of one of the lesser-known Jane Austen novels. It's a slight story, a satire on the effect on impressionable young girls of reading overblown novels but also a very charming love story. I would highly recommend it. It's beautiful to look at and the leads, Felicity Jones and JJ Feild, are both wonderful in their roles, with a good on-screen...
Published on 22 Oct. 2007 by catsatcastle
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best book, not the best screenplay but...
You cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear and so what the production team have done with this is to be applauded. This is the least mature and interesting of Jane's sumptuous novels, and so I had low expectations (in a quasi anti-Dickensian way). Nonetheless, it was better than expected (if a little too tongue-in-cheek at times with the brief gothic, teenage dream...
Published on 9 May 2010 by Shmorganzola
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94 of 97 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming (and restrained for Andrew Davies!),
This is a lovely adaptation of one of the lesser-known Jane Austen novels. It's a slight story, a satire on the effect on impressionable young girls of reading overblown novels but also a very charming love story. I would highly recommend it. It's beautiful to look at and the leads, Felicity Jones and JJ Feild, are both wonderful in their roles, with a good on-screen chemisty, with an excellent supporting cast. They are all given something to work with and take the chance very well.
I love the light-hearted scenes of dancing and flirtation. The undercurrent of danger in this louche city of Bath are signalled but not overdone, the villains are fleshed out and believable, the scenes when Catherine thinks she has lost Henry forever, the quiet moments between Catherine and Henry and his sister, all wonderfully done.
I am not an unconditional fan of Andrew Davies' adaptations of classic novels as I think he sometimes goes too far in his efforts to bring out what he regards as the hidden sexuality in the books but in this adaptation I think he got it exactly right in giving day and night dreams to Catherine with her over-wrought imagination.
As others have mentioned, this is a small screen production and has to be seen in that light but it's a little gem. Highly recommended.
77 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars English subtitles included,
I would like to point out that DVD includes English subtitles for the hard of hearing... and for English learners.
I wish all DVD released could also include English subtitles...
125 of 131 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, exciting and lots of naughty looks!,
I am a very very big fan of Jane Austen and I was so glad to hear that Andrew Davies (of the definitive, Firth/Ehle "Pride & Prejudice") was back! And I wasn't at all disappointed!
The production was true to the story - yet funnier, mainly due to the content of Catherine's fantasies! I also very much enjoyed the devilish glances from Henry - such naughtiness rarely comes across in other Regency-set dramas.
This was well acted and well scripted. Two very pleasant hours, especially for Austen fans and those who enjoy good period dramas. This is certainly one to go next to the BBC's P&P and Jane Eyre. TWO THUMBS UP!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant,
Having seen the older BBC adaptation of Northanger Abbey with Peter Firth (which was awful), I was a bit skeptical as to what this one would be like when it first came out. But, how wrong I was! I was delighted with this, as not only is it faithful to the book, the settings and the music are all brilliant too, as well as the acting. Felicity Jones is perfect as Catherine Morland, as is J.J. Field in the part of Henry Tilney; not to mention Carey Mulligan as Isabella and Catherine Walker as Eleanor.
A splendid version (definitely the best Northanger Abbey), but then, hardly surprising, seeing as the great Andrew Davies did the screenplay! :)
104 of 110 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it very much.,
First of all, it's important to bear in mind that this is not a big-budget Hollywood movie; it's just an ITV production so our expectations should thus be considerably lower. However for a mere channel creation I thought this adaptation was rather good. Catherine was the 17 year-old I imagined when I first read Northanger Abbey. One thing I really enjoyed about this was that when I read Northanger Abbey I didn't feel the growing feelings of Henry, in this you can see and feel it. Though I've always liked Northanger Abbey I've always thought the romance was weak, I didn't feel it was so in this adaptation.
Also for a production with a not-so-high budget I felt the costumes were excellent. In fact I preferred them vastly to those used in the Hollywood adaptation of Pride and Prejudice featuring Keira Knightly. I'm aware the director of Pride and Prejudice didn't want to use the empire waistline so he based his film before it was fashionable however the Northanger Abbey dresses looked much better and they flattered the figures of the actresses. It also made it all the more authentic. When one considers the difference between the budgets it's almost amazing that the ITV version of Northanger Abbey could be so vastly preferable.
I also felt the fanciful nature of Catherine's mind was acted to perfection; Catherine was a 17 year old, young woman, with an overly-active imagination. This is what leads her to believe the things she does about General Tilney. And yes okay, there are sexual undercurrents in her dreams, and no Jane Austen doesn't ever actually explore sexuality so bluntly but this is another's interpretation... Catherine being so interested in what was wicked could have been intrigued by sexuality.
Carey Mulligan plays her part so very well, it was easy to separate her from the more lovable roles she has played and dislike, nay, loath her as Isabella.
As for the actor who plays Henry, I actually really liked him, though not the most physically attractive man, his presented personality was thoroughly so and one could not help but be charmed.
The abbey itself was stunning, we see the Gothic in it as Catherine would see it and yet we're able to view it as a beautiful home, it does not seem so gothic when General Tilney is away from home, in fact it seem beatifically beautiful.
Unlike the casting of Billie Piper as Fanny Price in Mansifeld Park, I felt ITV had gotten it right by casting Felicity Jones as Catherine Morland.
Two thumbs up!
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a most enjoyable (slightly mischievous) adaptation,
This is one of three Austen novels adapted for the small screen and shown on ITV earlier this year, and it is by far the best adaptation - very enjoyable indeed, in a slightly mischievous but engaging way. The other two, 'Mansfield Park' (particularly) and 'Persuasion' just did not work, though each had some merits. These are in their way deeply though not exclusively serious novels and 'Northanger Abbey' is a rather different kind of book, but I think the main reason for the superiority of this adaptation is the choice of Andrew Davies, who devised the screenplay. He takes some liberties - another reviewer points out that 'The Monk' is used here, and indeed a very explicit extract from it - but I find them entertaining and quite permissible ; Catherine's fantasies are great fun and largely convincing. Catherine is very well played by Felicity Jones, a very pretty actress who conveys Catherine's naivete (and, it has to be said, occasional dimness) excellently, and JJ Feild is also excellent as Henry Tilney ; indeed, it's a strong cast right through. The settings are beautiful. There is nothing like the depth to be found in the BBC 'Persuasion' of some years back, in my view the best of all Austen TV adaptations, but there I think the differences between the two books make up the main reason ; this adaptation is, in its way, in the same class or close to it, and it certainly gives great pleasure.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captures the book perfectly!,
I had a smile on my face from start to end. I found this adaptation a perfect accompaniment to the book. Obviously the story line had to be condensed to fit into the time restraint, but everything you wanted was there. I loved seeing Catherine's fantasies come to life. The adorable relationship between Catherine and Mr Tilney was captured perfectly by the actors. Isabella was exactly how I imagined and was played brilliantly by the actress. One of my favourite Jane Austen adaptations!
84 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Northanger Abbey adaptation so far,
I think this is a thoroughly enjoyable adaptation - very much better than the previous version with Peter Firth. It was excellently acted all round (J.J. Feild deserves a special mention as Henry Tilney) lovely settings, and it had pace, humour and a real feel for Jane Austen's book. Andrew Davies (as usual) added a few sexy undercurrants but they were not offensive and were mostly in dream sequences. Don't hesitate to buy.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Style, zest and interest,
To my mind this ITV Northanger Abbey production is probably the best Austen adaptation I have seen yet.
First, between writer Andrew Davies and director Jon Jones the production team create a perfect blend of trueness to the novel and period yet with contemporary (to us) zest. The truth to the book and period comes in the stunning costumes, choice of gothic abbey, and ballroom scenes with the usual dances and the like. The point about the costumes and setting is that some more expensive productions don't have much in the way of accuracy or charm, whereas this made-for-TV attempt gets it right straight off the bat. The zest that I speak of comes in the delicious way that the direction and script enhances the romantic growth between Catherine and Henry (including the creation of true chemistry and even romantic tension that is often dead or left to the imagination in adaptations), as well as the very well-played, gothic imaginings of Catherine which are creative licence but of the best kind if one actually knows that literary period. The directorial timing is simply exquisite. There are only two disconnects. First is the rather sudden fight between Henry and Catherine which is not buffered enough in that they go from blissful understanding to a complete break which, in the novel or not, rings poorly. Second, the Austen voice-over could perhaps have been managed better, perhaps rather using conversation between incidental characters.
The casting team should also be bought drinks. Felicity Jones is wonderful in her portrayal of Catherine, combining the freshness of youth with an explicit yet tempered growth in her burgeoning feminine charms. Her interplay with JJ Feild as Henry is charming and sexy. She plays a character every guy would love to take home. Finally, she is perhaps the prettiest lead yet which signifies nothing except for sale value. JJ Feild is also very good, not only because he plays so well, and the same comment about the interplay applies, but in his portrayal of Henry he is sufficiently playful and even a little saucy that those who have not read the book are left quite unsure of whether he is good or bad. The choice and portrayals of the incidental characters are also excellent (especial kudos to Sylvestra Le Touzel for the essential Mrs. Allen comic touch), with the possible exception of William Beck as John Thorpe, who is perhaps a little too loathsome as a character, which weakens the uncertainty as to who the good guy is (a constant Austen device).
Overall this adaptation is so good because it salutes and yet in so many ways enhances the novel, once again in the extension of Catherine's romance as well as in the gothic touches, and with irreplaceable directorial and screenplay excellence. It is relevant and more than palatable to modern day audiences, and well worth a watch.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gothic charm,
Gothic romances were all the rage in the late 1700s and early 1800s -- and Jane Austen deviated from her usual form for "Northanger Abbey," a mellow satire of the genre. And "Masterpiece Theatre: Northanger Abbey" manages to translate it well into a movie, with what seems to be gothic fantasies and scheming set in the middle of a sunlit English countryside.
Catherine Morland is an innocent young country girl with a love of gothic romances, and has lives an unremarkably life in a country parish. But then the wealthy Allens invite her to Bath during their vacation there, and of course she accepts -- and through balls and old acquaintances, she becomes friends with two pairs of siblings. One is the Thorpes, the uncouth dandy John and his manipulative sister Isabella, and the more mysterious Tilneys, the charming Henry and sweet Eleanor.
When the Tilneys decide to leave Bath, Catherine is invited with them, to the vast stone manorhouse of Northanger Abbey -- which is as gloomy, eerie and remote as her gothic-loving heart could wish for. What's more, she believes that there are dangerous secrets in Northanger Abbey, related to the suspicious death of the late Mrs. Tilney. But Catherine has some lessons to learn about reality and fantasy: that everyday world is not nearly as melodramatic and twisted as her novels, and that it has its own dangers and deceptions.
"Masterpiece Theatre: Northanger Abbey" does an admirable job of adapting Austen's novel, evenly balancing out its two sides -- on one hand it's a parody of all the lurid excesses of classic gothic novels, and on the other it's a subtle coming-of-age tale about a young girl who needs to figure out the difference between reality and fantasy. It has some eerie moments, but most of them seem to be fantasies of Catherine's -- lots of sword fights and dungeons, with her trailing around in a big white gown.
It's also beautifully filmed, with ivy-drenched cottages, vast stone castles, grassy yards surrounded by lush trees, and even the pale-lit streets of Bath. It's a stark contrast to the dark, gloomy world that Catherine imagines. And the writers translate Austen's stately prose very well, with some clever dialogue ("Now I must give you one smirk, then we can be rational again") and some beautifully romantic moments as well ("I told him that I felt myself bound to you, by honor, by affection, and by a love so strong that nothing he could do could deter me...").
It also has some very solid casting -- Felicity Jones projects wide-eyed innocence as Catherine, and she's just pretty enough to be striking without being too much so. JJ Feild is deliciously sexy and just a bit impish as Henry Tilney, and Catherine Walker has a brief but well-acted stint as Isabella, who may be the most naive, clumsy gold-digger in the world. There are also some excellent performances by Catherine Walker (as the gentle, conflicted Eleanor), Liam Cunningham, and William Beck.
"Masterpiece Theatre: Northanger Abbey" is a beautifully filmed, well-acted adaptation of Jane Austen's gently satirical classic, and preserves its spirit admirably. Just a disclaimer: this movie is not a reflection of reality!
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