Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Young Bluestockings Attend the Cinema: PERSUASION (1995)

Welcome to "Young Bluestockings Attend the Cinema" at NineteenTeen! Today we're discussing the 1995 Jane Austen adaptation Persuasion, starring Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds!

(As an aside, can I mention how magical the mid-1990s was for Jane Austen fans? We had one fabulous adaptation after another...delightful!)

Ah yes, Persuasion! Lost love, pride and class, vanity, and lots of dashing naval men.

So, whether you watched this movie recently or long ago, please tell us what you thought of it!

Did you like the cast? Did you root for Root, or sigh for Wentworth?

Did you like how the director gave us the silences and low-indoors-lighting of the period, to really put us in that world? Or were you frustrated by that, finding the movie slow, or low-energy, or even at times hard to follow?

If you've read Austen's novel, what did you think of this interpretation of it? Did you think it captured the soul of the original? Did you mind any changes?

And if you have any other comments or insights, please share!!! We bluestockings love to discuss things while sipping our tea (and perhaps enjoying some caraway cakes and ratafia biscuits...)

And to aid the discussion, here are the major actors and creators:


Director: Roger Michell

Screenwriter: Nick Dear


Anne Elliot: Amanda Root

Wentworth: Ciaran Hinds

Lady Russell: Susan Fleetwood

Sir Walter Elliot: Corin Redgrave

Elizabeth Elliot: Phoebe Nicholls

Mrs. Clay: Felicity Dean

Mary Musgrove: Sophie Thompson

(Interesting fact: Sophie Thompson had a role in another Jane Austen movie--she played Miss Bates in the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma! She is also the sister of Emma Thompson, who played Elinor (and wrote the screenplay) for the 1995 Sense and Sensibility. Austen royalty!)

Charles Musgrove: Simon Russell Beale

Louisa Musgrove: Emma Roberts

Henrietta Musgrove: Victoria Hamilton

Captain Benwick: Richard McCabe

Admiral Croft: John Woodvine

Mrs. Croft: Fiona Shaw

Mr. Elliot: Samuel West

So....what did you think? All opinions welcome!


Liviania said...

I love this version! I think the cast is very believable.

Regina Scott said...

I loved the little touches in this version--the father's tulip coat, the lamp over the walkway in Bath. I adored the scenery. At several points, I was elbowing my husband, bouncing in my seat, and saying, "I've been there! And there! Oh, look, the Pump Room!"

I loved the costumes--I want Lady Russell's wardrobe! I thought the dialogue was very good, very witty.

I pitied Sophie Thompson--she may be Austen royalty, but the dear girl gets the most dithering parts, perhaps because she does them so well.

My one quibble was the scene where Ann stumbles upon Captain Wentworth's letter. It is the most impassioned part of the story, and in the version we saw the words came out all garbled, switching from his voice to hers. I understand the reason, but I thought the execution was lacking. I wanted to rip the letter out of her hand and read it for myself! :-)

All in all, good choice, Cara. I will be interested in hearing what others think.

Rachel said...

My fave adaptation of Persuasion. (Not that I've seen a poor version of it!) The cast was wonderful. I definitely appreciated the film more after visiting Bath. This is one of my 'crafting' movies. I can put it on and cross stitch or crochet while listening to it.

Camy Tang said...

I loved this version! It was so close to the original and Sir Walter was so exactly what he was in the book!

I agree with you about the letter, I thought that was not very well done. And the ending with the circus was kind of weird, don't you think? I think they had the distraction so they could kiss on the street without scandal, but it was kind of strange.

I thought the actors were a little old for the roles of Anne and Wentworth, but the script was terrific and the acting was simply phenomenal.

I didn't care for the more updated BBC version of Persuasion as much because it was so NOT what the book was like, although I really liked the young actors in that version, esp Rupert Penry-Jones (sigh!).

Now I totally want to go to Lyme!

Regina Scott said...

Oh, me too, Camy! Lyme is on my bucket list for England, for sure, along with Scarborough and Brighton and . . . :-)

And yes, now that you mention it, the circus was odd. My husband kept saying, "Why are we seeing this?" Maybe it symbolized that their life had been a circus with all those family members and friends interfering but now it was just going to be the two of them?

QNPoohBear said...

Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel and one of my favorite novels period. I'm hyper critical of movies made from books but I love this one. The circus at the end illustrates the final scene in the novel where they're oblivious to everything that's going on around them. Only in the book it takes place on the gravel walk and not in the center of town in full view of everyone.

As usual, I'm wordy so I wrote a review on my blog

I tried to get pics of the filming locations but it was too hard with so many people and rainy weather. I did get pics of the places in the novel though.

Walking in Jane Austen's Footsteps Part I

Walking in Jane Austen's footsteps Part II

Marissa Doyle said...

One of the things I love about this prduction (apart from Mrs. Croft's wardrobe) is how Anne/Amanda blossoms over the course of the film--how she actually manages to grow prettier and prettier. Good make-up, yes, but also splendid acting.

Cara King said...

I love this version! It's the only Persuasion adaptation I like -- I thought the 1971 one was lifeless, and the Sally Hawkins one was just so-so (plus, it had that ridiculous running bit at the end.)

But this version...ah, bliss. I think it really tries to have the people and world be real -- not that I think that's mandatory in an adaptation, by any means, as I think heightened worlds are also wonderful -- but I think this one does a great job at a hard task. Our folks don't have movie-star looks, or Hollywood hair...and the interiors really look like they're lit by window or candle or fire. Dirty is dirty, and tedium is oh-so-very tedious...

To me, Amanda Root is perfection. Her vulnerability, her very natural reactions to everything, her intelligence -- lovely. And Ciaran Hinds is my perfect Wentworth. Actually, I find the Wentworth in the book slightly problematic, though I know I'm in the minority here -- he just acts so like an adolescent sometimes, knowing himself so little, and acting out of pique, and such...but I thought Hinds convincingly makes him a man of action (albeit a cultured one) who just hasn't spent all that much time analyzing his emotions, in a way that makes him attractive to me while also being faithful to Austen. :-)

For me, the biggest drawback is Elizabeth -- I think they make her so exaggerated that she's quite vulgar, in a way that I feel is neither true to the book, nor really makes sense in the movie.

Regina, I love Sophie Thompson in Emma -- I think her Box Hill scene is astounding -- but here she's just a bit over the top for me, I think -- not as funny as she should be, and not very believable, either.

The rest of the supporting players I love, though -- oh, the warmth of Fiona Shaw, and the everyday truth of Simon Russell Beale! (And it's not just because I've seen both of them live on stage. Honest.)

Regina Scott said...

Marissa, I liked how Ann blossomed too. Nicely done! And what a treat, QNPoohBear--thanks for sharing!

Cara, I completely agree about the execution of the Box Hill scene in Emma. She made you feel her hurt!

Yes, I did wonder why Elizabeth had to be quite that spiteful. It was a bit on the annoying side.

Helena said...

It's a while since I've seen this, but I do love it. I wasn't sure about the casting at first but it grew on me very quickly. And I agree with Cara King about that, and about the problem with Wentworth in the book.

I do Love Rupert Penry-Jones too, though!

QNPoohBear said...

I agree with Marissa. Amanda Root is incredible. I loved her facial expression and hand gestures that conveyed what Anne was thinking and feeling. Her transformation was really nice.

I also agree with Cara that the details are really good. It's not a glittering bright world like Emma or the dirty wet world of Joel Wright's P&P (2005).

Camy Tang said...

QNPoobear, LOVED your pictures! It makes me want to go to Bath again right now!

Cara, I SO agree with you about that weird running thing in the latest version of Persuasion! I had a ton of problems with the adaptation.

Marissa Doyle said...

It just occurred to me that Amanda Root bears (bore) a remarkable resemblance to Tsarina Alexandra of Russia. Funny.