Sense and Sensibility vs. Northanger Abbey



on 2/21/2012

Battle of the Jane Austen adaptations. I like the recent version of Northanger, mostly because it's basically all we have (there is an 80s adaptation but it looks AWFUL). The cast is winning, including Felicity Jones, JJ Field, and a pre-fame Carey Mulligan, and it's all quite fun. Andrew Davies doesn't seem to understand that an upstanding young lady like Catherine wouldn't go near The Abbot, but then, it is Andrew Davies. Not surprising, really. Sense and Sensibility is at another level entirely. Thompson's script actually diverges quite a bit from the letter of Austen's novel, but it is wonderfully true to its spirit. Meanwhile, Ang Lee's direction really brings the quieter moments home, and I can't imagine a better Marianne than Kate Winslet. Fans of classic books like to trash Hollywood -- but it wins this round.

on 10/2/2012

Sense & Sensibility is a titan in comparison to Northanger Abbey. Not to dismiss NA as nugatory or anything, but it is the lesser movie here. NA is far more energetic and frothy a film than any Austen adaptation that I've seen. I guess that's partly to do with the scatter-brained naivete of Catherin Morland, the story's protagonist (which is a nice way of calling her a dumbass). She's far less empowered a woman than Austen's other heroines (which both Austen and the film explicitly infer in the opening page/minute) and almost like an anti-Lizzy Bennet. The kinetic feel is perhaps also partly to do with Austen's intent with the book; a satire of Gothin Romance. I say perhaps because I've never read Udolpho or any books of its kind, and I think satire in general translates poorly through time. Also, I never read NA in full so I'm not firm in my evaluation. The movie does slip into Company of Wolves territory - the actresses playing the leads almost resemble one another and their both coming of age stories. I can't really tell if the film satirises Gothic romances or just romances in general. Some of the over-acting would suggest the latter, which kind of makes Austen (or at least this Austen adaptation) self-satirising. Anyway, the acting's all pretty decent, but the cast often slips out of the character of the time period (or out of character of the stereotypical perception that we/I have of the time period). Even Mulligan, whom I tend to dislike, was pretty amiable an amoral vixen (in no small part due to the push-up bra that hoisted her yummies up to her chin).