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3.4 out of 5 stars
Mansfield Park (Repackaged) [DVD] [1983]
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92 of 92 people found the following review helpful
Fanny Price is often depicted as the least loveable heroine of Jane Austen's books. She is timid, shy, has low self esteem and no sense of wit or wickedness like Elizabeth Bennett, but a strong sense of right and wrong in shades of black and white, rather than grey forgiveness for past mistakes or follies.

The adaptations of 2000 and 2007 bear no resemblance to the character of Fanny Price from the book. The REAL Fanny is not tomboy-ish, or rebellious, she does not giggle or flirt. She is prim and prude, and steadfast in what she holds to be right.

It takes a little time to get to know Fanny Price, and perhaps a little longer to really appreciate her. I have watched all adapations several times, but by far my favourite is this version with Sylvestra Le Touzel. She understands Fanny and understands how to portray her. Her acting is impeccable, even if it seems stilted and wooden in parts. If it does, then only because Fanny Price, as I understand her from the book, behaves like this. Sylvestra makes Fanny Price believable, the other actresses (whilst good actresses) make Fanny Price appear like a stranger and their portrayal bears no resemblance to the heroine from the book.

The other actors are also excellent in this adaptation. Bernard Hepton is outstanding as Sir Thomas Bertram, Anna Massey the real nightmare as Aunt Norris, Jackie Smith-Wood sublime as Mary Crawford... the list goes on.
The more I watch this adapation the more it grows on me and the more I believe in the people.

My advice... if you want to watch a film that matches the book, then buy this adaptation and give the others a miss.
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116 of 117 people found the following review helpful
on 19 February 2008
I couldn't agree more with Booklover, the first reviewer. I am quite sick of everyone trying to make Fanny Price saucy and brash, which seem to be prerequisites for a female heroine these days. This film's Fanny - Austen's (and thus the real) Fanny - gives us another type of heroine: quiet, shy, insecure, like many of us, who in the end musters the strength to stand up for what she believes in when all around her fall. This film portrays her without cowtowing to modern sensibilities. Fanny is like the shy, quiet girl in the class that no-one can really figure out and some think must be uppity. Misunderstood, bearing secret dreams and passions, emotionally abused by her adoptive family, she represents the part of the population who is not Elizabeth Bennett or Emma Woodhouse and never will be - and doesn't necessarily want to be! She shows us that you can be strong without shouting and that you can stand your ground against your peers and society without standing on a soapbox - would that more people could learn to do this!

As for its length - since when has a real Jane Austen fan ever complained about an adaptation being too long!? (Rather the contrary)
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110 of 111 people found the following review helpful
on 20 March 2007
Forget the awful film and the doubtful 2007 ITV production - this is Mansfield Park for those who prefer the story as Jane Austen wrote it. Yes, I suppose it is old-fashioned, but then so is the book! The acting is excellent, perhaps with the exception of the rather stilted child actors in the opening scenes, and it sticks to the story like glue. Give me this any day rather than some unintelligent take on 'what a modern audience prefers'. I don't know what gives modern scriptwriters the idea they know how to write a story better than Jane Austen did! Please note that some of the commendatory reviews of the rubbish film are actually of THIS version - could Amazon sort that out?
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 21 May 2009
I am replacing all my favourite VHS films and programs, and this was a must-have because it is a Jane Austen. But I found that I actually enjoyed it more this time. Sylvestra Le Touzel as Fanny Price seemed less gawky and puppet-like than I remembered. And anyway, who, with Mrs Norris always on her back, would not turn out repressed and nervy! Lady Bertram still puzzled me, being portrayed as child-like to the point of oddity. But I rejoiced in witnessing the relationship between Fanny and her brother William, which is such an important element in the story, yet missed out in later productions. I did NOT miss the gratuitous sex of the 2000 production, and much as I like Billie Piper she was not Fanny Price. Fanny may seem insipid at first. Yet in the end she is the one who draws together the tattered remnants of the Bertram family and is their bedrock. This production was faithful to Jane Austen and also the period in which it is set, and I, for one, could immerse myself in it again without too many niggles.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 5 September 2009
Right. Firstly, let's be quite clear about just which version of MANSFIELD PARK we're reviewing here: it's the BBC's 1983 version - not the ghastly feature film, and definitely not the REMAKE of the telly one.

(Unfortunately, some reviewers aren't any too decided about which one they've been watching.)

It all seems to hinge on Fanny Price, played here by Sylvestra le Touzel (and you can't have a better name than that!) For me, you can't play this character better, either. Ms Le Touzel is a delight from start to finish, and captures to perfection the quietly determined strength that allows Fanny to triumph in the end.

Around her moves a weird and wonderful collection of Austen types, all beautifully portrayed: (an exception being the children - but they are out of the way soon enough for their mostly terrible performances to be forgiven and forgotten quite quickly); Anna Massey's Aunt Norris underplays her clipped and lethal bitching, complementing Angela Pleasence's loopy portrayal of Lady Bertram - surely one of the quirkiest performances on screen. Lead by Bernard Hepton, there are some fine stalwart actors here - and a pug dog whose innards produce a whole galaxy of interesting noises at various sensitive moments.

Although for me the visual quality is not as good as it might be, largely thanks to the fact that it was shot entirely on location in what seems to be mostly natural light, the series - complete with its creaking floorboards and very loud crunching gravel - casts a charming spell.

All in all, this version of an Austen classic is one for the collection.
Certainly, don't dismiss it on the strength of some of the more hysterical reviews. If you can't bear to fork out a few quid on your own copy, rent it first, and see how you feel when you've seen it.

I think it's a good 'un.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2007
This adaptation of Mansfield Park is one of the best Jane Austen adaptations I have seen. It is very close to the book and one can feel right along with all the characters. It is long, but well worth your time!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 20 August 2007
I returned to this adaptation of Mansfield Park after enduring the unremittingly horrible 2007 ITV version. Yes, the acting can be a bit stilted, the lighting a bit glaring at times and the camera work a bit unoriginal, but it is a faithful adaptation of the book. Fanny Price is a heroine that it will always be difficult to portray to a modern audience--more Anne Elliot than Elizabeth Bennet--but Sylvestra Le Touzel does acceptable work in an almost impossible role. Anna Massey is a wonderful Aunt Norris and the wonderfully lethargic performance of Lady Bertram by Angela Pleasance borders on the psychotic. Mary and Henry Crawford are suitably worldly and ambiguous without being caricatures. The pacing is slow and considered over six hours, but this works well with this wonderfully odd novel. Don't even consider this DVD if you were smitten by the silliness of the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice or the Gwyneth Paltrow Emma, this is a one for those who appreciated 1995 BBC Persuasion.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 2 December 2007
I like Jane Austen productions to be close to the book, and this really was. Fanny Price seemed to have stepped out of the pages of Mansfield Park; I thought she was well acted. Watching this production helped me to understand more deeply what Jane Austen was trying to do in Mansfield Park, which I have always found her most fascinating novel. I only wish it could have been longer and included more scenes and conversations straight from the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 October 2014
In my opinion this is the best film version of the book. It follows the original story step by step, all the important events are there to give a cohesive line to what`s happening why. The actors are very well chosen and fit their roles perfectly. It couldn`t be better.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
If you have read and love the book and want a faithful dramatized version, this is the DVD for you, and I recommend it whole-heartedly. Austen's story, characters and conversations are wonderfully preserved. Everyone knows how to ride a horse, and Mary even knows how to play the harp.

It is, however, mediocre television in which the techniques of the craft are often obvious and sometimes sloppy. When one can enjoy the people, get lost in the story and be swept away by the images without knowing why, that is when craftsmanship becomes artistry, and this production only rarely rises to that standard.

Problem 1: Unsophisticated camera work
My husband walked out after half an episode complaining that the director was obviously trained for the stage and knew nothing of film. He also complained that the careless use of the hand-held camera made him queasy. I realized about 3 episodes in that the use of the hand-held camera was done to underscore Fanny's unrest, but it was still roughly done, and one is not supposed to "see" that as a film watcher. Also I wished that more close-ups were done of Fanny in the earlier episodes, as she is the central character and had very little to say. The director later showed flashes of inspiration in his poignant use of profile, but, again, one is not supposed to "see" it.

Problem 2: Acting befitting a low-budget stage production.
I don't mean that the actors are bad; in fact the actors are all good and all have at least one moment of brilliance (and some actors, such as Edward, have several). However, with the exceptions Lord and Lady Bertram (Bernard Hepton as Lord Bertram head and shoulders above the rest, and a true artist, as artistry is defined above) every one of the actors shows their technique and schooling at some point. Some do better than others, but they all have moments when they exagerate their gestures and declaim the text so that it is clearly understood in the "back row". Naturalness of cadence is secondary. Mrs. Norris, as a clownish character, has "permission" to be campy, and she even stoops when addressing Lord Bertram. But the visibility of technique in the subtle characters of Fanny and Mary is distracting. It was a bit jarring the first time Fanny addressed the corner of the room before snapping her eyes back to the person to whom she was talking. After the sixth time, I realized that that is how she "portrayed" modesty. Again, one is not supposed to "see" that.

Problem 3: Unless you already know the story and are looking forward to how such-and-such a scene was handled, the TV series is not well paced to grip and hold the viewer's attention.

If you happen to have a DVD collection similar to mine, allow me to make the following comparisons:

Vis à vis problem 1: The Maigret series (starring Michael Gambon) is a shining example of excellent camera work on a shoe-string budget.

Vis à vis problem 2: Whatever you might think of the character interpretations (or the speed of Knightly's speech), the naturalness of Austen's characters in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice is generally breath taking.

Vis à vis problem 3: The 2006 Bleak House also stays true to the novel, but at the same time is so well paced it compels the viewer to keep watching episode after episode after episode. The acting in Bleak House is also extraordinary, but I wanted to compare Austen with Austen for problem 2.

I am glad I bought this Mansfield Park, as it is so true to Austen's excellent novel, but I wish it looked more like the work of an artist and less like the work of a promising student. Three stars sums it up.
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