Thursday, October 07, 2010

Persuasion, the BBC film on DVD

Persuasion by Jane Austen
The BBC production on DVD
Copyright 1995

When I sat down to watch Persuasion, last night, I didn't have the Everything Austen II Challenge in mind, but since watching a video qualifies as an entry in the challenge, you get to hear about my quiet evening watching a DVD with two sleepy kitties curled up nearby. I viewed the 1995 verson starring Ciaran Hinds as Captain Wentworth and Amanda Root as Anne.

Update: I can't believe I didn't even write what the story is about. Anne Elliot is unmarried and now considered well beyond marrying age, having been persuaded to reject Mr. Wentworth (her true love) because of his lack of income, 8 years in the past. Now, her family is on the verge of bankruptcy and when Anne goes off to stay with one of her sisters, Mary, she encounters her former love, now a captain in the Royal Navy. They're at first wary of each other, but tragedy and overheard conversations lead to the kind of ending you know you're going to get with Austen. So . . . back to my "review".

I flipped through 5 of the 6 years of reads in my sidebar and didn't find Persuasion, so apparently it's been more than 5 years since I read the book, which would account for my difficulty in remembering the storyline at the beginning of the movie. I did recall that Anne was considered beyond marriageable age and somewhat sickly-looking and, of course, that she was unable to marry the love of her life. But I couldn't remember why Anne and Wentworth parted.

Fortunately, while the movie is quietly paced and Amanda Root seems a bit devoid of expression a good portion of the time, the look of panic on Anne's face when Captain Wentworth shows up to pay his respects at her sister's house, followed by a conversation in which someone mentions why Anne rejected a completely unsuitable and common sailor (now returned from the first Napoleonic War a wealthy man) cleared things up nicely.

Anne and Wentworth's story is beautifully told in this film. The settings are lovely and the costuming goes a long way toward pointing out personality quirks. There are some nasty women in Anne's family and the outfits the characters wear tend to match their personalities -- Anne's clothing is as understated and demure as she is, while her icky sister Elizabeth's wardrobe matches her loud and offensive personality. I thought the fitting choice of outfits was a nice touch.

As the movie progressed, I became accustomed to Amanda Root and I liked her as Anne but I would have liked to see a little more obvious emotion. Reviews of a 2007 version describe the 2007 as more emotional but less accurate to the book than the movie I viewed. There's always a little give and take, isn't there? The accuracy to the book was admirable in the 1995 version, according to my memory and some comments at Amazon, and I will definitely watch it again and again. But, I'd also like to get my mitts on that 2007 version.

The best part, of course, is when Captain Wentworth signals Anne with a look to let her know he has left her a note -- and the heart-pounding moments as both Anne's and Wentworth's voices overlap in the reading of the note. It's terribly, wonderfully romantic.

Definitely highly recommended for the Austen lover.

Also worth mentioning is Samuel West as Mr. Elliot, Anne's cousin and the potential heir to her family's estate. Every time he showed up, I found myself struggling to remember where on earth I'd seen him. I had a feeling he was in one of the Hornblower movies, because I could visualize him in period costume but still could not place him. Sure enough, he played Major Edrington, a character I absolutely adored in "The Wrong War", an episode of Hornblower. He was also in period costume in Notting Hill, as the actor chatting with Julia Roberts in between the filming of scenes on Hampstead Heath.

Persuasion is my fifth entry for the Everything Austen II Challenge, but I don't feel as if I've finished. I'll ponder for a while. There's more reading I'd still like to do. Incidentally, Miss Fiona spent the better part of Persuasion happily curled on a blanket and Isabel spent the vast majority of the evening on my bed, but did pop by for a visit. Fiona gave the video four paws up -- or would have, if there'd been room to roll onto her back.

In other news:

I've kept in touch with Chef Alain Braux since reading his wonderful first cookbook, How to Lower Your Cholesterol with French Gourmet Food. Now, he's just released his second book, Living Gluten and Dairy Free with French Gourmet Food. I'm not sensitive to gluten, as far as I know, but it never hurts to find new recipes that are healthy and I'm looking forward to reading the book and giving some of his new recipes a try.

Also, if you haven't already seen them, you really must take a look at author Shannon Hale's beautiful twins.

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  1. One of the film versions had Anne running the streets looking for Capt Wentworth - which geez louise. Negates the tenor of the times.

  2. Carrie,

    I remember reading about that when the BBC was doing its weekly Jane Austen movies. Missed it, though. I wonder if that was the 2007 version. Now I really want to see it for the laugh. :) "Negates the tenor of the times" is such typically erudite Carrie language.

  3. I loved Persuasion maybe I'll have to rent the movie from Blockbuster. Still need to get a hold of P and P with Colin Firth for this month. :)

  4. The Colin Firth version of P & P is my all-time favorite Jane Austen production. I have accidentally somehow managed to acquire three copies of it. Okay, yeah, not an accident. LOL Two of them came with other movies.

  5. I haven't seen this version, but I recently watched the 2007 version. I really enjoyed it even though it's a bit different from the book. I must admit I enjoyed the scene with Anne running through the streets, as it was funny. And Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth...HOT! But I've heard this version is a better adaptation, so I'll be sure to watch it at some point.

  6. I haven't seen this version of Persuasion (but I did get to see the one Carrie mentions above with Anne running through the streets. I've also never read the book (shame on me) but plan to rectify that soon!

  7. Anna,

    I've got to get my mitts on that 2007 DVD. At Amazon, a bunch of people mentioned how hot the Captain Wentworth of that version is. I liked Ciarin Hinds but I'm all for checking out the guy everyone thinks is so awesome, running-in-the-street scene and all. LOL


    Well, you just must read Persuasion, right away. It's wonderful. Like Emma, I found that it took a while to get into the meat of the story but once Captain Wentworth showed up and the background became clear, it was typical Austen brilliance. So much happens in her books!

  8. This is my favorite version of Persuasion. Hands down. Anne Elliot is my favorite Austen character and I thought Amanda Root played her perfectly. Ciaran Hinds was simply divine as the Captain.

    Sally Hawkins version of Anne in the 2007 version is laughable. That whole running scene at the end? Total joke and so, so inaccurate to the novel and the time. People talk about the romance of the "heaving bosom kiss" at the end of the film. The only reason her bosom was heaving was because she was out of breath running all over the place. There was nothing romantic about it. It was laughably funny and that scene is supposed to be romantic and tender, not funny.

    Rupert whatshisname did do an ok job as Captain Wentworth. And, in that version, Anthony Stewart Head is dead on perfect as Sir Walter, Anne's dad. But the film really has little else to redeem it.

    Take my advice and stick with Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root. Watching them is one of my favorite ways to spend a quiet afternoon.

  9. Holly,

    Hmm, maybe I should just see if our library has a copy of the other version, then. I still want to see it, but everyone has mentioned that scene with Anne running in the street! I did love this one. Anne is supposed to be sad and subdued, I suppose. I love it when someone (her father?) notes that she's gotten color in her cheeks. By then, you know she's starting to enjoy life, again. Ciaran Hinds is definitely awesome as Captain Wentworth. He fits the dashing captain role well.

    Thanks for the advice! :)


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