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2.8 out of 5 stars
Northanger Abbey (Repackaged) [DVD] [1987]
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on 5 September 2008
Northanger Abbey [1986]

Having noted all the extremely harsh reviews for this adaptation, I felt moved to submit a review in its defence. Jane Austen's novels are frequently regarded as `simply' love stories, but in all cases they are far more than this. Miss Austen had an excellent understanding of human nature, leading to some unforgettable characters, a lively and sometimes wicked sense of humour, but above all a masterful facility with the English language. Virginia Woolf said `Of all the great writers, Jane Austen is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness', and I believe it is because her greatness is inextricably bound up with the way she uses the language. To alter even one word can sometimes be disastrous. To change that famous quotation : `It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in posession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife' to : `is in want of a wife' (as was done on the DVD sleeve notes of the excellent BBC adapatation of Pride and Prejudice) is to rob the quotation of much of its humour and all its irony. Thus those faced with the task of adapting a Jane Austen novel are faced with the problem of retaining the spirit of her language while at the same time producing an entertaining love story which will be accepted by modern viewers who expect nothing else. This is particularly difficult if they are also expected to abridge it to fit the modern conventional run-time of 90 to 100 minutes for a film.
If one analyses this adaptation in this light, it certainly deserves more than one star. The dialogue is, in most cases, faithful to the spirit of Jane Austen's novel; the characters are, in many cases, more faithful to those in the novel than are those in the (admittedly superior) ITV adaptation. The acting is not as bad as many reviewers have intimated, and as for the heroine being unattractive, personally I find this an unfair criticism as well as an incorrect one. Physical attractiveness is notoriously subjective after all, and as regards personalities, surely both the leads are attractive - Jane Austen has written them to be so. Admittedly there are some strange scenes connected with the Abbey, but this is a result of attempting to create a `gothic' atmosphere as fantasized by an impressionable teenage girl, and the ITV version is not entirely innocent on this count either. We should be more tolerant here. I agree also that some of the music is inappropriate, but it would be unjust to condemn the entire production because of that.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 19 June 2002
Although the dream snatches from catherines imagaination are a bit iffy this is a definately an enjoyable dramatisation. katherine schlesinger comes over very well as the over imagainative catherine and peter firth makes an excellent henry tilney. I especially love the ending when henry appears to that haunting music which certainly captured my imagination ( i actually prefer the films ending to the book! sacriledge perhaps but true)An overlooked jane austen gem.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2003
Having seens so many negative reviews of this adaptation, I felt compelled to put in my two cents. I happen to love the traditional adaptations as much as anyone and recognize that Northanger Abbey is given a very different treatment in this version. However, I would just like to say that the dream sequences are NOT so outlandish and they do serve to provide a somewhat spooky atmosphere which helps to emphasize the theme of gothic novels and a young girl's imagination. The lead actors are great. Schlessenger is wonderful as the sweet wide-eyed Katherine and Mr. Tilney is just as he should be. I agree with another reviewer, the last scene is lovely, it is romantic and touching while echoing the mystery and excitement that permeates the rest of the production.
Give it a chance!!
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89 of 98 people found the following review helpful
I found this film to be very dated, with inappropriate music. It skipped out most of the original book and generally left me feeling confused as to what was actually happening. If I had not already known the plot, I doubt I would of been able to follow it at all. Not worth watching at all.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
The book is funny, romantic and leaves you with a satisfied warm and fuzzy feeling when you get to the ending. The TV adaptation? Well, I didn't get as far as the ending, after about half an hour I could bear it no longer!

For one thing, I'm really not sure that the music isn't better suited to movies about Al Capone and a lot of botox-blonde-marylin-monroe look-a-likes. I don't even think the saxaphone had been invented around the time when this drama was set and I'm more than certain that they wouldn't have had electric guitars playing corny riffs in the corner of a ballroom! Cheap, nasty and synthesized is all I can really say about the soundtrack.

As for the two leads, I always thought that that first lingering look was supposed to be a romantic and tingly affair, but I have to say that watching it, I just felt a little bit queezy.

I couldn't actually tell the difference between Isabella and Eleanor Tilney as they both looked like a mass of blonde ringlets from where I was sitting and I'm sorry to say that I just didn't find Mr. Tilney amusing in the slightest.

Stick to the novel, or if you really want to watch an adaptation of this novel, try the recent ITV version. Mr. Tilney is remotely fanciable, Catherine Moreland is actually believably attractive and you may even find yourself laughing!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 April 2011
This is absolutely the worst adaptation of Austen you could possibly imagine. From the dreadful 80's soundtrack, where sometimes if you closed your eyes you could imagine you were watching a re0run of Miami Vice, to the stilted delivery of the dialogue it was all just so wrong. This was one of those occasions where suspension of disbelief was impossible. I was always felt like it was a bunch of actors saying their lines. Some of the acting was just dreadful. Robert Hardy was okay but he was just going through the motions of being Robert Hardy in a period drama. He was surrounded by a bunch of stiff so had little encouragement. The only other character who was remotely believable was Catherine Morland (played by Katharine Schlesinger) who did try but in this setting she did not really stand a chance.

This is a must see for period drama producers as a lesson in how to get everything wrong. For the rest of us this is a definite must miss. Do not be persuaded you will be really disappointed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 August 2009
I ordered this version of Northanger Abbey before I had read the reviews so was a little apprehensive when it arrived. I cannot understand what the other reviewers found so appalling in this production. Peter Firth was exactly how I imagined Henry Tilney - although his portrayal of him was a little camp at times - and Catherine Morland and Mrs Allen also were excellently cast. Robert Hardy made General Tilney rather more scary than I imagined from reading the book but I always find Robert Hardy to be the most watchable actor. I am afraid the "music" passed me by and I did not find it in the slightest irritating. The plot seemed to wander a litle towards the end with the appearance of the French Countess but Northanger Abbey is by far my favourite Jane Austen novel and I enjoyed this prodution very much.
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77 of 86 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2006
On paper, a BBC adaptation of a Jane Austen novel should be at the least watchable. This dated, miscast and disjointed adaptation not only fails to live up to expectation, but is a confusing and misleading interpretation of a remarkable novel. Stick to the book and don't waste four hours of your time on an embarrassingly poor adaptation of a wonderful book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 29 March 2006
Well, as a fan of Austen's masterpiece, this Northanger Abbey is certainly a minor work, which does not mean is an uninteresting one. This BBC adaptation, but, is very amusing. I was told this version was blunt and with no interest, however I enjoy watching it. Of course, the plot isn't as complex as Pride and Prejudice, but it's different and wonderful. i enjoyed very much the parts of Bath and the Abbey. Sometimes it takes a scent of an horror tale, because the main character, Catherine, is very fond of horror novels and she is always imagining reality to be the plot of one of these called gothic novels. but in fact, it's worth seeing and enjoying. I repeat that this is not North and South or Pride and Prejudice, but you must give a chance... surely you won't be deceived!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 23 March 2011
I really do not understand why this adaptation is so disliked!!!! I am a huge Austen fan and have read the novel aswell as frequently watched both adaptations of Northanger Abbey, loving them both equally. Peter Firth was both amusing and hansom in his portrayal of Mr Tilney, pulling fantastic facial expressions and altogether having an exceedingly pleasing continence.

Yes the adaptation does have variations from the book, but so does the recent ITV version which everybody seems to prefer, they both concentrate on different aspects, which I must admit I feel is the whole point. There is absolutley no point in doing an exact relica of a previous adaptation.

As for comments on the music, quite personally I really do not care what is playing in the background beacuse I am far too wrapped within the story to notice anything of so little consequence.

I am also exceedingly puzzled at the comments about this adaptation being dated, it is from the 1980's not 2000, you can hardly expect blu-ray picture quality.

This version is tragically overlooked and I really wish people would just give it a chance!!!!
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