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Thursday, March 20

Watch Austen Adaptations Instantly

Want your dose of Jane Austen instantly? For Netflix subscribers, that wish is a reality.

Recently, I discovered this fabulous instant viewing feature that is available through my subscription, and I was able to select from a huge list of titles and watch a streaming video on my computer. My first choice to view was the 1980 miniseries of Pride and Prejudice, staring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul, and what a pleasure it was, again!

There are three other Jane Austen adaptations available for instant viewing; - all produced by the BBC and filmed from the 1970’s and early 1980’s. They are now Austen classics, and worthy of your consideration and enjoyment.

Emma (1972) directed by John Glenister, adaptation by Dennis Constanduros, staring Doran Godwin as Emma Woodhouse, John Carson as Mr. Knightley, Donald Eccles as Mr. Woodhouse, Debbie Bowen as Harriet Smith, Timothy Peters as Mr. Elton, Robert East as Frank Churchill, Fiona Walker as Mrs. Elton, and Ania Marson as Jane Fairfax. This version of Emma is quite extensive being close to five hours long, so much of Jane Austen's language is included in the script. Fiona Walker rules the roost as Mrs. Elton! Doran Godwin's Emma is a bit stiff, and very vexing, but we still love her in the end. 270 minutes

Pride and Prejudice (1980) directed by Cyril Coke, adaptation by Fay Weldon, staring Elizabeth Garvie as Elizabeth Bennet, David Rintoul as Mr. Darcy, Sabina Franklyn as Jane Bennet, Marsha Fitzalan as Caroline Bingley, Judy Parfit as Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Clare Higgins as Kitty Bennet. Others say that this is the truest version to Jane Austen's novel, but I beg to differ. It runs a close second to P&P (1995) for the use of Jane Austen's laguage in a script. Miss Garvie is the definitive Elizabeth Bennet. Some say that Mr. Rintoul as Darcy is wooden, but read the book again folks. Rintoul plays Darcy as Austen intended! 265 minutes.

Sense and Sensibility (1981) directed by Rodney Bennett, adapted by Alexander Baron, staring Irene Richard as Elinor Dashwood, Tracey Childs as Marianne Dashwood, Diana Fairfax as Mrs. Dashwood, Peter Woodward as John Willoughby, Bosco Hogan as Edward Ferrars and Robert Swann as Colonel Brandon. At close to three hours, this version is longer than some, but not quite enough Austen to satisfy my appetite. The Dashwood sisters are as engaging as ever, but the male trio of co-leads, Willoughby, Ferrars and Brandon are unconvincing. It is still a worthy production, and merits a viewing to round out your Austen adaptation experience. 176 minutes.

Mansfield Park (1983) directed by David Giles, adaptation by Ken Taylor, staring Sylvestra Le Touzel as Fanny Price, Nicholas Farrell as Edmund Bertram, Bernard Hepton as Sir Thomas Bertram, Robert Burbage as Henry Crawford, Anna Massey as Aunt Norris, Jackie Smith-Wood as Mary Crawford and Anglea Pleasence as Lady Bertram. At over five hours in length, this version is more than an ample serving of Mansfield Park, ahem! As one of Austen's most perplexing heroines, Sylvestra Le Touzel's interpretation of dear Fanny Price is at times as annoying as her character in the book, and a great testament to honoring an author's original intensions. Her reaction when she is prevailed upon to accept Henry Crawford's proposal of marriage is brilliant. Nicholas Farrell as Edmund is ok. Just about the same doormat as in the novel. 312 minutes.

In addition, all of these productions are included in the six film collectors DVD set, Jane Austen – Complete Collection, which is available for purchase online from Barnes & Noble booksellers. The set also includes Persuasion (1971) staring Anne Firbank as Anne Elliot, and Northanger Abbey (1986) staring Katharine Schlesinger as Catherine Morland.

After viewing Pride and Prejudice (1980) again, I truly believe that Elizabeth Garvie’s performance as Elizabeth Bennet is as close to perfection as a Janeite could hope for!

Posted by Laurel Ann, Austenprose


Laurie Viera Rigler said...

I look forward to the time when Netflix, which I love, makes all (or even any) of its instant movies available to those of us with Mac computers. Grrrrr....

Anonymous said...

Attention with Netflix!
After you pay the registration fee you will by surprised at not all videos being available for watching online but only for rent and for the purpose you must register a valid US address because Netflix is only for US citizens. Videos can be watched from outside US by using proxy server and US IP. Thus for example, there are six documentary movies on DVDs about Jane Austen’s life, society, works and biographies but none of them is available for watching online, only for rent.

Anonymous said...

"Elizabeth Garvie’s performance as Elizabeth Bennet is as close to perfection as a Janeite could hope for!"

I have to agree with you - and David Rintoul's performance of Mr. Darcy is wonderful, as you stated, very much in keeping with the novel.

While Colin Firth has great appeal with that adaptation, the character has been placed in settings where the audience can see a softer Mr. Darcy - Mr. Rintoul's Darcy is the character from the novel.

Betty Ellis said...

Once I discovered this NetFlix resource, I was able to "instantly" get up to speed in order to participate on the PBS The Complete Jane Austen discussion forum. No doubt, it has been a wonderful addition to my downtime quality of life!