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Sunday, August 9

Jane Austen Movie Throwdown

Last night was Jane Austen night at Vic's house. We played Faro (a fast but not very interesting card game, in which the bank wins readily), looked up the rules of whist and speculation for future card games, and watched Mansfield Park with Sylvestra La Touzel (do you not LOVE her name?) as Fanny. In the 6-hour BBC adaptation, the Mary Crawford character, played by Jackie Smith-Wood, comes front stage and center any time she is on the screen. Which actress playing Mary Crawford was the most successful in portraying this complicated woman in the shorter film versions?

This actress portrayed the better Mary Crawford

Embeth Davidtz, Mary Crawford, 1999

People are extremely divided about this movie adaptation by Patricia Rozema, either hating the addition of its anti-colonialist overtones and Fanny becoming a budding young writer like Jane Austen, or liking its pluck. One person who stood out in this film is Embeth, whose Mary is quite as sophisticated as Jane Austen described her. She is a lady, but there is a hint of the unsavory in her. She is all sensuality, so that one can fully understand why Edmund is so distracted by her. Many will recognize Embeth for another role. She played the chilly and elegant Natasha in Bridget Jones's Diary, whose lawyer character was the perfect fit for Colin Firth until Bridget came along. Hailing from South Africa, the bi-lingual Embeth's career has been steadily successful if not spectacular.

Hayley Atwell, Mary Crawford, 2007

The 2007 version of Mansfield Park was generally trashed because of its short length and Billie Piper's tomboyish performance of Fanny Price. One actress who didn't get hammered was Hayley Atwell, whose Mary Crawford was pretty, audacious, and a little bit saucy. Her line to Fanny after keeping the horse too long sums her character up: "Selfishness must always be forgiven, for there is no hope for a cure." A stunning woman, Haley rates high in She is also recognized for her acting chops, playing major roles in Brideshead Revisited and The Duchess. Haley is currrently filming Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follet's epic medieval tale about the building of a Cathedral. My apologies to Haley for spelling her last name wrong in the poll. I caught the mistake too late to make the change, for too many people had already voted. free polls
This actress played the better Mary Crawford
Embeth Davidtz Haley Atwood


Livi said...

I haven't seen the 1999 one so I'll have to vote Hayley Atwell

FitToSeeJane said...

Loved Embeth Davitz. She agravated me and thats good from the storyline perspective!

hmsgofita said...

I haven't seen the 1999 version for a long time, but Hayley was fantastic in the 2007 version!

Sandra Leigh said...

I haven't played faro, but I have played whist, and it's fun. Basically it's bridge without the bidding.

nigel said...

Embeth Davidtz played a real nasty peice of work! and an interesting contrast of anti-hero to Harold Pinter's Sir Thomas Bertram.

Lynn said...

Embeth Davidtz because I prefer the adaption she was in. She was how I pictured Mary Crawford. Cold, calculating, selfish and lacking any reguard for anyone unless that person could be used for her own good alone.

The other version could not be enjoyed fully because I couldn't get Billie's Dr. Who character out of my head ( she was just playing that one in the Regency time zone anyway and it was not a pretty sight )

thebookaddict said...

I liked Embeth much better and liked this version of the film better. While I do like Billie, I did not like her portrayal of Fannie at all. To tom-boyish (as you said) and exuberant.

Your blog is the first I've heard about the movie version of The Pillars of the Earth! This is one of my most favorite books. I sincerely hope the movie does it justice!