Monday, March 22, 2010

Not-So-Gentle (Re)Viewer: Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey (1986)

First off, let me admit that I've only read Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey once and it has been several years.  Though I appreciate her tongue-in-cheek mockery of the gothic genre, I never found any of the characters to sparkle the way they do in some of her other books, and I was never much of a fan of Mr. Tilney.

Therefore, I probably wasn't predisposed to like Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey.  And I didn't, especially in view of the fact that the film is missing the few things I liked about the book.  The movie completely foregoes Austen's wry treatment of the Gothic-with-a-capital-G, and much of the over-the-top melodrama has been cut from the film.  This movie should have been quite funny, and I would have enjoyed it if it had felt at all like a parody. 

Unfortunately, the screenplay was treated with too much solemnity (despite the brief forays into Catherine Morland's private fantasies) and the movie was ultimately boring.  It deserves the five-and-a-half stars (out of ten) that IMDB users have given it.


JJ said...

I adore Northanger Abbey but am yet to find a film which can convey the humour quite right. Hmmm...

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

Hi JJ! I remember laughing out loud the first time I read Northanger Abbey--it's supposed to be FUNNY, but I think directors probably approach it with a "don't tread on Jane Austen" approach, so the movies end up being freaking boring.

I don't get it, though. P&P versions channel the humor pretty well with the character of Mr. Collins (among others), so people understand that there are things that are supposed to be funny about Jane Austen's books.

JJ said...

I know! It's like because it's Austen it has to be approached as if it was Dickens because it's 'classic' literature. I've seen the same thing done with certain Shakespeare's.

I read Northanger Abbey quite recently and literally giggled my way through the whole thing. Did get some funny looks, especially when people saw the author who spurred the laughs. *rolls eyes* why don't people realise that Austen was just a completley hilarious, sarcastic bitch?!

I agree, though I have to say the Kiera Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice? Biggest. Disappointment. Ever.
They made all the characters ridiculous, ignored most of the plot detail and just generally ruined the book.
Colin Firth in the lake any day.

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

The BBC version of P&P was much better, but it's just too looooong. The Keira Knightley version was very pretty, but I never could get past how they BUTCHERED the ending. Totally butchered it, and the final scene makes my head hurt.

I'll still watch it when I need a Jane Austen "fix," but I prefer the film versions of Emma or Persuasion if I want to watch a film that isn't three days long.

JJ said...

Ah, I like the longness in that it covers everything. It's good for sick days.
I can't actually remember the ending of the Keira Knightley version, I only watched it the once after the original ball scene just killed it for me. The way the music stops and everybody turns to stare when Darcy walks in... overkill.

I actually don't like Emma as a novel, so the films are generally not that great for me. I can't get over the hatred I have for the main character enough to enjoy the plot.

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

I agree with you completely about Emma, and don't actually own the DVD. It's weird how the brain works sometimes, because I was thinking "Emma Thompson's Sense and Sensability", but my brain just shortened it to Emma, which just happens to be another Jane Austen novel. I don't even think that qualifies as a brain fart haha

JJ said...

I do love Emma Thompson :)

Lindsay-with-an-A said...

Me too. Everything I've seen her in is fantastic, and she picks such cool roles (Angels in America, Much Ado About Nothing, and Stranger Than Fiction, just to name a few). Definitely one of my favorite actresses.

JJ said...

The scene in Love Actually where she's just found out her husband is cheating on her and she goes to her room to cry gets me every time.

She's so very British. Gotta love it :)

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