Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park Mansfield Park in Film

To date, Mansfield Park has been adapted to film twice: once in 1990 by Whit Stillman in Metropolitan, which was nominated in 1991 for Best Original Screenplay, and again in a 1999 version, Patricia Rozema's interpretation of Mansfield Park.

Stillman sets his own comedy of manners, Metropolitan, in New York City instead of at Mansfield Park or in London. Here, young rich socialites gallivant around the City, where they "behave badly" (to put it kindly). The Fanny Price figure, the sensitive, demure Audrey Rouget, comes from the wrong side of town, the Upper West Side, rather than from the more fashionable Upper East Side. Tom Townsend, the Edmund Bertram figure, falls for the Mary Crawford figure, the highly erotic Selena Slocum. As in Austen's novel, while the cat's away, the mice play. In other words, while the parents - at loose ends over financial difficulties and ex-spouses - leave the young people unattended, all hell breaks loose in the form of sex, drugs and strip poker. Stillman utilizes his characters to provide an analysis of Austen's novel, explaining that although it might seem outrageous today that young people could be so condemned for merely putting on a play, he insists that if Austen were present in today's world, she would run away in horror.

Rozema's film adaptation of Mansfield Park, which featured playwright Harold Pinter as Sir Thomas Bertram, was met with rave reviews by some and severe criticism by others. Her in-your-face treatment of the horrors of slavery, to which the novel merely alludes, outraged many. After all, women in this era never spoke of business, and Fanny unrealistically has the audacity to ask blatant questions about the "Trade." She even offers liberal opinions about its inherent evil. Also, Rozema's portrayal of the licentious Maria Bertram and Henry Crawford, who are discovered in bed by Edmund, was objected to by some reviewers and scholars, who believed that the scene did a disservice to Jane Austen herself. Furthermore, Rozema's Fanny Price, played by Frances O'Connor, wants to be a writer, despite Austen's absolute insistence on privacy and her anonymous publication of all her novels. In all, the film was praised for its austere, realistic settings, fine acting and choreographic detail.