Monday, January 21, 2008

Northanger Abbey

While I was driving to work on Friday, I heard an NPR story on the Austen adaptations. They had an interview with Andrew Davies, whom they said did several of the scripts. I was shocked - shocked! - to hear that the writer of the incomparable 1995 Pride and Prejudice miniseries could be responsible for that mediocre (and bizarrely unfaithful to the book) Persuasion. Then to my horror, they started talking about his choice to start out Sense and Sensibility with Willoughby's seduction of Colonel Brandon's ward, which of course happened completely off-stage in the book, not to mention how much out of character a sex scene is for an Austen adaptation.

Well! Suddenly my joking threat to watch the Emma Thompson S&S on the night the new one airs seemed a lot more like a good idea. But last night I got curious and looked up Davies' IMDB entry and discovered he didn't write the script for Persuasion (and did write a number of movies I liked quite a bit), which immediately improved my opinion of him. After watching Northanger Abbey last night, I'm willing to give his Sense and Sensibility a chance.

I really liked Northanger Abbey. I suppose I should include the disclaimer that I read the book once, twelve years ago, so I only have a vague idea of how true it was to the book. And I'm sure the fact that there isn't another film version that I'm attached to helped me like this one better.

But with that said, I just plain enjoyed it. The actress who played Catherine did a wonderful job of portraying a sweet and naive girl, whose sheltered life makes it difficult for her to remember that there are real people with feelings behind her wild fantasies. They did a good job of making the Tilneys simultaneously appealing and sinister. I liked the cheesy horror-movie style of Catherine's fantasies. All in all, an enjoyable two hours.

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