I've been unwell so my brain has only been up to mild entertainment on the internet. The paid companion who used to read to rich semi-invalids in Victorian time has been digitised and democratised. We all have paid companions now.
Philanthropists on the internet upload films and television serials and now I can watch Jane Austen adaptations by the dayful.
I was taught that when you watch a film adaptation of a novel you should judge it by its own merits, not how it relates to the source material. Also, that good films are usually made not out of great novels but okay ones. However, watching differing versions of Jane Austen is like watching different versions of classical plays. Will the Ghost of Hamlet's father be a projection of Hamlet's own mental state or a material ghost? Will they set Julius Caesar in 1930's Italy or modern Africa or among the mafia? The enjoyment includes assessing the interpretation. What will they do with - well to start -
Not bad - rather a nice Anne Elliott with her inward pain and patience, though her sister Mary is shown as neurotically deranged, not just snobbish and fretful. But that last scene when Anne runs through Bath seeking Captain Wentworth. Young ladies in Jane Austen's time did run but in the countryside, not through the streets. Anne was going it like Jessica Ennis. Jeez - it's the curse of the feisty heroine. To be attractive to modern eyes a film woman has to be physically energetic and outspoken.
So here's Billie Piper playing at shuttlecock, chasing a pug dog and generally tearing about like a mad thing with tumbling hair. Billie Piper is charming and was delightful as a companion to Doctor Who. She would make a delicious Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey. Here she's totally miscast playing Fanny Price - timid, bookish and delicate - in a garish adaptation of Mansfield Park (2007), where Mary Crawford, who is a sophisticate, flashes her ankles at Edmund Bertram and William Price dances the hornpipe. So when the internet didn't let me watch the third chunk of upload I was happy to give up on a vibrant adaptation for the perpetual motionists.
I hadn't much liked the film of Mansfield Park (1999) which had shown the influence of Edward Said* by including scenes of the slave trade (mentioned in one sentence in the book) but I did find the 1983 BBC version. The adaptation was faithful to the book and it made 1983 seem as spacious and stately as the days when families listened to Dickens novels being read out loud. This adaptation got the novel's atmosphere - the formality, the authority of the paterfamilias, the repressed emotion obliquely expressed in walks through a grand garden or private theatricals. .
It did have some odd touches. Sylvestra Le Touzel who played Fanny looked like an actress from the silent film era, when they widened their eyes emphasising the whites. She moved awkwardly with the same lunging gait as Joyce Grenfell playing a hockey mistress and in outburst was hysterical to the point of needing medication. Henry Crawford was repellent - creepy instead of attractive. And Lady Bertram was catatonic rather than just languid. Anna Massie was excellent as the meddling Mrs Norris, as was Samantha Bond as Maria Bertram. The final great scene was touching, Edmund and Fanny are sitting by a window one rainy Sunday evening when he tells her of his final disillusionment with Mary Crawford. No running about, only their two faces and the rain outside on the paths and lawns.
I am now part way through the 1971 production of Persuasion, again done at an easy pace and staying close to the novel. The autumnal scenery and the women trailing their dresses and shawls on the Cobb at Lyme are very good, the ladies of the English leisure classes at their pretty play. They have also added some poetry for Anne to quote (that time's equivalent of songs for life's soundtrack). Anne Elliot has an absurd hair style, a kind of beehive. But she is good, the grown up woman always trying to make the peace among the exuberant giggling girls. All the characters are done well, except for a shrieking Louisa Musgrove who is such a pain you think Captain Wentworth shows bad taste in his flirtations. I was quite pleased when she was knocked unconscious.
Anne Firbank with bad hairstyle
I find there was a 1960 version of Persuasion but it was cleaned out by the BBC in the 1970s.
The Disciple: Master - will we have eternal life?
The Master : If we are digitised, my child.
*Culture and Imperialism