Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Persuasion 1995 & 2007

Persuasion is beloved by many of us as Jane Austen’s swan song, perhaps a look at how she would have liked her own story to have played out.  A tale of second chances.  It has had two recent and affectionate adaptations, one by the BBC in 1995 and one by ITV in 2007.  They are both rated almost equally by IMDb and are both equally well worth watching.  You will find many things to like about both and will probably find a few irritants also, but that is how these films go!

Persuasion1995-This version rates slightly higher in my estimation for a few reasons.    It is beautifully shot cinematically and I adore the classical music soundtrack which is appropriate and also gives a slightly nautical feel at times (although my husband found the music annoying, so it is all personal taste).  Ciaran Hines is weatherworn and looks like he could have been at sea for 8 years. Amanda Root is quiet, strong and makes you want to root for her (OK, I couldn’t resist the pun). The other reason for placing this adaptation slightly higher on my list would be the fact that they kept the "best scene"  basically intact as Austen wrote it.  When Anne is overheard by Captain Wentworth in the room at Bath, debating with Captain Harville whether man or woman is more constant, my heart soars.  “You pierce my soul.  I am half agony, half hope.”   This is one of Jane Austen’s best scenes and in this film it is very well done.  I also love the minor characters in this one, particularly Phoebe Nicolls as Elizabeth Elliot-”She is a Viscountess!” and Corrin Redgrave as Sir Walter Elliot.  His slight lisp makes me laugh.  Sophie Thompson was at her best, being a just neurotic enough Mary Musgrove who will now always speak in my head as I read the book.  And Susan Fleetwood (sister of Fleetwood Mac’s drummer Mick Fleetwood) was luminous as Lady Russell, although she was battling ovarian cancer while filming this and died soon after.


Persuasion2007-  This version is also very well done, even though all the running of Anne around the Royal Crescent and through various streets in Bath has been parodied on You Tube and seems very modern, however we do see a lot of lovely Bath scenery this way. The dragged out kiss at the end as well made me want to throw something at the screen so that they would just get on with it, and yet there are many tributes to the ending kiss on YouTube, so many would disagree. Ah, one person finds this scene sexy and another person fixates on the spittle at the side of her mouth.

However I cannot deny that Rupert Penry-Jones makes a delightful Captain Wentworth and that Sally Hawkins does a kick ass job of Anne.  She can even fix a dislocated collar bone.  Why wait for the apothecary?  And it is filmed mostly in Bath, which adds to the visual appeal.  And although they do tinker with my beloved eavesdropping/note writing scene, it is done for plot reasons and comes off fairly well with the letter being delivered to Anne instead of being surreptitiously passed to her.  One does certainly feel Anne’s anxiety as she searches the streets of Bath for her yummy Captain, determined not to lose him once more.  

No, both of these adaptations are quite welcome in my DVD library.  And I like that Wentworth buys her Kellynch Hall at the end of the new one.  Apparently the Elliots really mismanaged their fortune, although wouldn’t Anne sort of be forced to then invite her stupid father and sister to live with her there?  I rather enjoy the end of the older version, where Anne is on board ship with her Captain and leaving her inane family behind in England. OK, I know I am over thinking these adaptations, but when you get fond of a character, you wish to have them really live happily ever after.

And, as Anne always gets her Captain, I will always be happy with the ending.  So I guess we won't have any more Persuasion adaptations for a while.  If we do, perhaps we can get a true longer miniseries so that we get more of the juicy bits between Anne and Wentworth.  Come on BBC, adapt this again like you did with the recent Emma.  Sigh.........

23 comments:

  1. I'm hopeless attached to Ciarnan Hinds and Amanda Root. I just loved how Anne started to blossom as soon as the Captain showed up.

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  2. Ciarin Hinds to me is the quintessential MAN. Though I watched Persuasion 2007 and enjoyed it a lot with a sexy Captain Wentworth brought to life by the very attractive and modern looking Rupert Penry-Jones and the lovely Sally Hawkins as Anne.

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  3. @Rena- No argument from me on Ciaran Hinds. In fact, my next Actor of the Week will be Ciaran Hinds in order to thank you and Mary for the kind comments on this posting.

    I like the other version too. Rupert Penry-Jones is one of the most searched names on my blog. Easy to see why!

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  4. I agree Jenny, that Rupert Penry-Jones makes a delightful Captain Wentworth and Sally Hawkins is great as Anne Elliott. Like you Jenny, the dragged out kiss at the end makes me want to throw something at the screen so that they would just get on with it, but I love the ending where they dance and kiss outside their house. I love a happy ending! xx

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    1. Hi Kate, it is a lovely ending isn't it? Gorgeous country house too!

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    2. Rupert Penry Jones and Sally Hawkins are perfect together.
      Ah, the dragged out kiss shows me that to enjoy its fullness, we must be patient. Remember, Anne has been waiting for that kiss for eight years. If Frederick kissed her too fast all her fuses would explode... anyways that's what I think... lovely movie... I watch it often...

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  5. I love that the 2007 version is shot mostly in overcast skies; it seeems to bring out the yearning. The soundtrack is by far and away one of my favorites and perfectly suited for the movie. I can't begin to say which version I like better - I could watch them both back to back.

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    1. Hello Anon! All this talk of Persuasion and I may have to watch both versions again. And then do another comparison as this one was one of my first almost 3 years ago!

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  6. does anybody know the name of the piece of dance music Ann plays in the 2007 version after she plays the moonlight sonata ? Kim

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  7. I resisted 2007 for the longest time ever because I super love 1995 and I just didn't want to see another version.

    But I saw it recently (hence the googling!) and loved 2007 too. In a different way yes but still liked it. Anne/Wentworth are kind of different in the two but I liked both interpretations.

    I know Austen fatigue sets in and everyone has their favourite version over which they do battle (!) but when viewing this I felt its actually good to have an adaptation every decade or so because each adaptation brings some new facet to the fore. And of course it attests to the power of the novel that it can be endlessly remade.

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    1. Hi Anu
      I just watched the 2007 version again and it is really good. My heart is still slightly with 1995 but I really love them both.

      I just found out the director of the 1995 Persuasion has a child with Anna Maxwell Martin, one of my fave actresses. Lovely!

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  9. I am not entirely happy with either version. In the 2007 version Sally Hawkins hair styles are awful and instead of getting more attractive as the story progresses (which is what happens in the book) she just gets more artificial, there are obvious signs of the misapplied blusher she was wearing some scenes, someone should have given her makeup artist and hairstylists some serious grief. But her performance is good.
    However, Rupert Penry Jones nails Wentworth, both in his acting, posture (so very much that of a military man) and his appearance. He doesn't wear his uniform while in Bath or any where else while off duty which is totally spot on historically.
    In the 1995 version Amanda Root's appearance doies noticeably improve and without the obvious use of artifice. Hinds is too old and not attractive enough to match Austen's Wentworth, but he plays the part well and like Penry Jones has a very appealing quality to his voice.
    Just wish they could get the kiss scene and the reconciliation right these are where both versions failed.
    Ideal Anne if they remade it? Gemma Arterton and ideal Wentworth Chris Hemsworth (the slimmed down James Hunt version) or Tom Hiddleston

    - See more at: http://janeaustenfilmclub.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/persuasion-1995-2007.html?showComment=1400797802580#c8707441687942059133

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    1. Hinds isn't attractive enough? Good god, I beg to differ! That shot of him watching Anne and Benick while they are discussing poetry is just unreal - how could one person look that gorgeous? I think he is the quintessential Wentworth. He actually looks like he has spent 8 years in the elements - sun, salt, ocean spray, and so on. Loved him in this film (and the rest of the cast was great as well!).

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  10. I have yet to see the 1995 version, but currently finished the 2007 version and I am really hoping the other will give me more than this one did. I cannot for the life of me understand why Anne is dressed so dreadfully dowdy. I get that she is supposed to be plainer, but given her status in society due to her family connections, I highly doubt she'd leave the house in half the terrible outfits she does. They look ill fitting, rough, terribly made, and just plain ugly. In most Austen adaptations even the poorer families are dressed much better. She is a lovely girl but the hair does absolutely nothing for her, if anything makes it look like she had bald patched between the bang things and her hair line. And there was no blooming. I wanted bloom, dag nabbit. Makeover!

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  12. Persuasion 1995 is one of my favorite movies ever. I just finished the 2007 version, and though I tried watching with an open mind I was absolutely and utterly disappointed! There is just too much going on in the 07 version. If I didnt know this story I would not know what was going on as the storytelling was rushed. The opening scene with handheld camera started me on my odyssey of confusion. 95 version, Ann's father was a vapid but easy to like character. 07, he started out mean and just stayed that way. Yet that didn't give anymore sympathy to Ann's character. And why all of the breaking of the fourth wall for Anne in 07? It made her appear villainous. I have so much more to say but I'll stop here. I'm glad there is a place for me to ramble...:)

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  13. There are two incidents in the 1995 version that do not happen in the book, but were strangely lifted and used in the 2007 version. The first is Anne's remark to her father, when being criticised for visiting Mrs Smith, about there being more than one widow in Bath with no name and little to live on. In the book she thinks this but does not say it, and of course Anne would have been very unlikely to speak so insolently to her father. It would have been quite out of character. The second incident is when Captain Wentworth seeks an interview with Anne, carrying out a commission for the Admiral who offers to quit Kellynch when Mr Elliot and Anne are married. Why is this scene thought necessary? To show that Frederick thinks Anne is to be married to Mr Elliot? Surely his behaviour at the concert is enough to show that he suspects it. I prefer the 1995 version for reasons already pointed out on here - the ridiculous gallop through the streets of Bath at the end, the characterisation of Mary as a simpleton and her husband Charles as a country bumpkin, the moving of Anne's speech to Captain Harville on the constancy of women to be spoken to Captain Benwick when Captain Wentworth would not have been able to hear her speak, all spoil the later adaptation for me. What makes the 1995 version, in addition to the spot-on casting and characterisation, is the way in which Amanda Root grows more beautiful before our eyes as the story progresses, just as Anne seems to do in the book.

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    1. "he second incident is when Captain Wentworth seeks an interview with Anne, carrying out a commission for the Admiral who offers to quit Kellynch when Mr Elliot and Anne are married. Why is this scene thought necessary?" So Jane Austen had an alternate ending for Persuasion, in which this scene takes place and Anne and Wentworth are reconciled. I've read the alternate ending in my copy of the book. In this movie, they combined both endings I guess, though I do agree it was overkill.

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  14. Does anyone know where I can get the piano sheet music for the 2007 adaptation? I've been looking for years!!

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    1. Did you get an answer to your question about the piano music?

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    2. Did you get an answer to your question about the piano music?

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  15. Just watching both versions and so happy to to read your comparison here as well as other comments. I'd love to be watching these with other fans, but (don't be jealous) my husband seemed to enjoy the 2007 version as I did see a tear drop fall at the end. Be still my heart. How did I miss these two treasures until now?!

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