Fiction In Film: Mansfield Park


So being sick at home for around a week now has allowed me to have a HUGE amount of downtime, so what better way to spend some time then to write a blog post. When I get sick I know the only thing I want to do is sit on my sofa, drinking tea, curled up under a blanket and watching some of my favorite movies. I have periods of movies that I go through where I will watch the same 3 or 4 movies for about 5 months. Recently the movie of choice that I have been reaching for is the ITV adaptation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. The movie is beautifully made with the costumes, the atmosphere, and the acting allows the viewer to be transformed to the Regency Period of England.

               The story of Mansfield Park is about a young woman named Fanny Price who is sent to live with her wealthy aunt and uncle, Sir and Lady Bertram, and their four children; Tom, Edmund, Maria, and Julia. Everyone treats her poorly expect for Edmund, who is her one and only friend in the house, and as she grows Fanny’s affection for him becomes deeper; she falls in love. While Sir Thomas Bertram is away in Antigua to fix the families fortunes, the entrance of two new strangers, Mary and Henry Crawford, brings chaos, deception, and conflict into the house. During a play being put on by the family along with the Crawford’s, feelings become apparent and emotions begin to fly. Fanny must remain the constant in the crazy world of scandal, flirtation, and judgment in order to win the heart of Edmund. Here is the link to the Wiki link about the book to give you a must greater description of the book:

               I have to admit that it has been a very long time since I have picked up my copy of Mansfield Park and bothered reading it. I do remember it wasn’t ever one of my favorite Austen novels but maybe since I love the adaptation so much I may be willing to pick it up once more. The adaptation of the book is amazing, elegant, and a pleasure to watch. The scenery of the house, in which the movie takes place, allows the viewer to see what life would be like during those times. The house is a beautiful image of untouched history that brings life and definition to a book. The place had to be special since it was the main focus of Austen’s book, which it was in the movie. I certainly would have loved to have lived in Mansfield Park myself.

I have to first mention the two people who played the Crawford’s; Hayley Atwell plays Mary and Joseph Beattie plays Henry were just astounding. You loathed them as characters and wished you could just scream to the others to not fall for their cunning lies. The Crawford’s come into the scene with wit, grace and charm oozing their way around each member of the family to gain their attention and approval. They will not be satisfied till they have made their own mark on the family. Henry is a well established flirt who first seeks the attentions of both Bertram sisters in order to have his picking later. But it is Fanny he later becomes attracted to and is determined to win her over, but Fanny sees through his slimy ego and rejects him. Mary, on the other hand, is only after the attention of Edmund and is more than determined to change him to her liking instead of just accepting him for who he is. She believes that everything can be gotten with money and good looks; she is only thinking of herself and uses her feminine wiles to trap Edmund in a dance of power and deception. As a viewer you were able to see how easily the family would fall for the Crawford’s trickery; they were very convincing and anyone who wasn’t Fanny would fall quite easily into such traps. Both actors brought justice to two very selfish, shallow characters.\

               What would an Austen novel be without our beloved gentleman, lover and hero? In this novel our hero would be one Edmund Bertram. He is the secret love of Fanny, and is a future clergyman who becomes ensnared in Mary’s lies and traps. As a man of the church, he tries to keep a moral high ground but he does confess to Fanny about the power that Mary has over him. “I cannot give her up” (Austen, Mansfield Park) are the exact words to how Edmund feels about Mary; he is trapped by her and he must figure out a way to win her. Luckily enough for him, a scandal brought into the family shows the true side of Mary and Edmund is able to see her for who she truly is. You would never place Edmund up on the list of great men of Austen novels because he is easily over shadowed by men like Darcy, Wentworth, Tilney, and Bailey. He is a well-loved male lead in this book but as a reader, you cannot feel but pity for him that he should be so easily wooed by a scandalous, hard minded woman a Mary Crawford. Edmund is played by Blake Ritson who does a wonderful job of playing a man who is easily fooled by Mary and fails to see the beauty and purity of Fanny. His dark eyes, dark hair, and fair complexion gives life to a character that readers would shake their heads at for being a total “boob”. As a viewer your love for him grows as you are able to see and hope for the possibility of him and Fanny getting together in the end.

               Billie Piper plays Fanny and she does such an eloquent job bringing Fanny to life; you can see her innocence, maturity, and sturdiness all at the same time but doesn’t overshadow the other characters as Fanny is always in the background of every situation.  Fanny knows her own mind and heart, which allows her not to be swayed by the other opinions and voices around her. It is this confidence that she does not fall into the clutches of Henry Crawford and doesn’t listen to the voices around her telling to take him as a potential suitor. Fanny, on her own, is a character that most people can relate to as someone they have been at one point in their life; a lone sufferer of unrequited love. We have all been there at once point where we had feelings for someone and they either a) were unaware of our feelings b) did not return the feelings that we felt or c) did not even know we existed. All three are tragic but our dear Fanny falls into category A- Edmund was unaware of the love she had for him and how much she truly cared.  Your heart just breaks as Fanny has to listen and watch Edmund fall for Mary and not her. I know as a viewer I just wanted Edmund to see Fanny for who she is was; a brilliant, beautiful, centered young woman who would ultimately make him happy. Billie does a wonderful job of having those longing eyes for Edmund as he would talk to her or as he walks past her unaware of the change that came over her when he was around. Poor girl, I felt for her, being there myself WAY too many times in my life. HAHAH!

So I will leave you with this; if you like Period dramas, Austen adaptations or just Austen in general then I would try to get my hands on this movie. It brings more character and flare to a once neglected Austen novel. Now…where did I put my copy of Mansfield Park? 

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