Saturday, May 14, 2011

Northanger Abbey (1987 TV Movie)


This movie was, disappointingly, the least well-done screen adaptation of a Jane Austen novel I've seen yet.

I do think most of the characters were well-cast, though both John Thorpe and General Tilney (who perhaps overacted) were made out to be worse than they were in the book. Catherine was okay, but appeared to be as young and naive at the end of the movie as in the beginning.

Liberties of all kinds were taken. The way in which characters were introduced was quite different from the book, and events were a bit jumbled. Catherine and Isabella's friendship seems to have appeared out of nowhere. Sometimes, even as dialogue was taken from the book, the scenes were entirely changed; in significant deviations from the book, characters go to public baths, they row on a lake, and the Tilneys have visitors at Northanger Abbey. Strangely, a mysterious French woman was inexplicably added to the cast, and the Tilney men were all made to take snuff. And what was with the black servant/slave boy!? Finally, as if the filmmakers were running out of time, Catherine's departure from Northanger Abbey was practically glossed over.

The fantasy sequences adequately showed Catherine's preoccupation with Gothic romance novels, but the music was a bit overdone. Amusingly, the music in the last scene - which deviated from the book significantly - was so clearly from the 1980s.

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