Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Northanger Abbey

I regret rereading Northanger Abbey before watching the PBS film adaptation. The movie is absolutely delightful, but I felt continually distracted by inconsistencies and errors—particularly at the film's end.

If I hadn’t reread the book, I would have loved the movie unconditionally, considering it a fun little romp through Bath.

Felicity Jones’s Catherine Morland is young, trusting, and na├»ve. The movie makes it clear Isabella Thorpe is Catherine’s opposite. After all, Catherine is always modestly clad, while her best friend wears bosom-revealing dresses—a sure sign of a loose and deceptive young woman.

JJ Feild also makes an attractive and charming hero as Henry Tilney. He is a humorous, clever, and irresistible suitor, and I could easily fall in love with him (or maybe I already have).

Not too surprisingly, given its entertainment value, the movie focuses on Catherine’s novel reading, using dream sequences to reveal the books’ effect on her psyche. In a major deviation from the book, the film uses Catherine’s overactive imaginations to explain Henry’s apparent coldness towards her and her expulsion from Northanger Abbey.

Another jarring moment is an entirely fictionalized scene implying a sexual relationship between Isabella Thorpe and Frederick Tilney. Such a relationship could be implicit in the novel, but it certainly is not as explicit as the film suggests.

Northanger Abbey is not as faithful as I would like, but the film is excellent fun and far superior to last week’s adaptation of Persuasion.

1 comment:

Nick Adler said...

I could not agree with you more. Still looking for a more faithful film adaptation.