Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Fanny Price the introvert; is she unfilmable?
I recently put the question out there on Twitter- Is Fanny Price unfilmable? By which I mean the REAL Fanny Price. In the latest two film adaptations of the novel Mansfield Park from 1999 and 2007 she is made very different from how she reads on the page in order to have the viewer sympathize more readily with the character of Fanny.
In the former, she gets a good dose of spunky Jane Austen, writing her cheeky, nutty juvenilia and in the latter she just gets a dose of crazy boisterousness.
I had a few people on Twitter and on my MP blog post point out that the 1983 BBC miniseries has a truer take on Fanny's introverted personality than the more recent versions. I am working my way through it on YouTube (link here). The characters of Fanny (Sylvestra Le Touzel) and Maria (Samantha Bond) are fairly well played but Lady Bertram is soooooooo awful, I mean so truly awful that you have to check it out. It is just unbelievable!
Sorry if you love this version but although Fanny is more introverted, the entire production is now dated and flawed by today's production standards. It is however worth viewing, if only to see a very young Jonny Lee Miller as Fanny's little brother Charles. His mop of hair is adorable!
But what is it about Fanny Price which makes her the least lovable of Jane Austen's heroines? Is it her introversion, which masks her massive teenage crush on Edmund and just makes her seem like a cold fish? Or is it the fact that she seems convinced she is always right, which makes her appear judgmental and sanctimonious, when in reality she is constantly doubting herself?
I think that a nice long miniseries adaptation of Mansfield Park (sympathetic to the character and personality of Fanny which Jane Austen intended) is truly called for!
And really, don't we introverted readers deserve a character we can relate to? I mean, I love Lizzy and Emma, but if I am honest with myself, I was much closer in disposition to Fanny when I was 18 years old.
There is also an argument for a longer version of Mansfield Park in that there are so many subplots and minor characters which deserve a truly wonderful film treatment. Both Susan and William Price deserve lots of screen time so that we can see how Fanny relates to her siblings. And the trip to Sotherton? It just has to be in there doesn't it? And Lover's Vows? I don't know about you, but I want to see a few scenes of that in rehearsal!
So let me know your thoughts on Mansfield Park in general, and Fanny Price in particular. And if anyone reading this has pull with BBC or ITV, please send them here!!!
N.B. A couple of astute readers have commented below that of course Anne Elliot from Persuasion is an introvert and yet is well loved by Austen fans. So it is not entirely her introversion. Rather the kind of introvert she is. I have run across a few internet sites recently where literary characters have been evaluated as to their Myers Briggs Personality Types (here is a link to Harry Potter Characters' Myers Briggs Types). Would readers like a blog post where I compare Anne and Fanny on the Myers Briggs scale? I think this would help explain the lack of love for Fanny!