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Miramax Pictures presents
Mansfield Park (1999)

"In all important preparations of mind she was complete, being prepared for matrimony by a hatred of home,the misery of disappointed affection, and contempt of the the man she was to marry. The bride was elegantly dressed and the bridesmaids duly inferior. Her mother stood with salts in her hand expecting to be agitated, and her aunt tried to cry."
- Fanny Price (Frances O'Conner)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: July 27, 2000

Stars: Frances O'Conner, Embeth Davitz, Jonny Lee Miller, Alessandro Nivoli
Other Stars: Harold Pinter, Lindsay Duncan, Sheila Gish, Victoria Hamilton, Justine Waddell
Director: Patricia Rozema

Manufacturer: Technicolor
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Brief violent images, sexual content and drug use.
Run Time: 01h:51m:45s
Release Date: July 11, 2000
UPC: 717951004901
Genre: romantic comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A+ A+A-A B+

DVD Review

Joining other remarkable film adaptations of Jane Austen's novels like Sense And Sensibility, Emma and Persuasion comes director Patricia Rozema's version of Mansfield Park. Austen's brilliance in character study is brought to the screen by an impecable cast and director. As someone who really enjoys the other films immensely, it would be fairly easy to find faults with a newer film. However, I now have another favorite in my list of period pieces. This film is amazing.

Making a major departure from the other films, and something that could be criticised by those looking for a straight adaptation, is Rozema's choice to include many direct references to Austen's Juvenalia,(Austen's pre-novel writings) and personal letters, which are quoted throughout the film in scenes where the central character Fanny Price (Frances O'Conner) addresses the camera directly. Though it took me aback at first, this is only one level of the brilliance portrayed in the film, which becomes more evident with repeated viewings. The story opens in the late 1700's when as a young girl, Fanny is given away by her poverty stricken parents to an aunt who lives in the much more upperclass Mansfield Park. Although the manor is certainly of a more refined nature, it is borderline so, with areas of unfinished walls and lack of furnishings belying the postured airs of aristocracy. The boundaries of class are immediately established, as Fanny is distanced from the othe Mansfield children and relegated to servant's status, especially as the daughters of the household begin their quest in society for suitors. We follow Fanny's progress into womanhood, and in typical Austen fashion, the heroine is torn between the men in her life, the one who is suitable and the one she truly loves. The characterisations are rich, with a perfect blend of serious drama and biting humor. The complete cast excels in their portrayals, and the timing and editing of scenes give us a wonderful ride through the story, creating tension and providing release.

Cinematically, this film is a visual feast. While the color palette is fairly drab at times, echoing the faux elitism of the manor setting, the use of steady-cam, helicopter shots and artistic composition keep the film fresh from start to end. In a few sequences they are literally throwing the camera around, with whip pans and quick focus changes from subject to subject. Frequent silhouettes and many scenes shot through objects, be they frosted glass windows, the rigging on ships, or through doorways, create a very real sense of depth and interest. Flying sequences are amazing in their fluidity. I loved the ending sequence with the little pauses as things began to wrap up. The interior of Fanny's parents' home emphasises their poverty, with a very dirty and disturbing atmosphere. There are so many wonderful sequences that the study of this could fill pages alone, and while there is a bounty of style present, it never gets in the way of the story.

Mansfield Park takes its place amongst a number of other fine films covering Austen's work, and holds up with the best of them. Patricia Rozema's inclusion of more personal Austen content certainly makes it unique in the collection. I guess you could say I liked it!

Rating for Style: A+
Rating for Substance: A+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Mansfield Park is presented in anamorphic widesceen. For a period piece, the coloring is very earthy, without a lot of oversaturated or vibrant colors. The film is occasionally somewhat dark, but there is good shadow detail, and midtones seem well represented. No compression problems or other anomalies, though the layer change on my disc was somewhat interlaced. The image overall is immaculate and very filmlike, with fine grain present.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.0
English, Frenchno


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is presented in 5.0 surround (both English and French), and is full and encompassing. For the most part surround activity is subtle, with primarily atmospheric sounds. The score is rich and well defined. Dialogue is clear, except for a few passages, such as the whispered lines between Fanny and Henry Crawford (Alessandro Nivola) on the stairs as he tries to woo her. The French audio track is similar in quality to the English track, though all tracks (including the commentary) are only accessable via the menu. Even though there is no dedicated subwoofer channel, there is no lack of bass present in the mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 30 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Emma
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Patricia Rozema
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Production Featurette
Extras Review: The disc features a 05:m:42s featurette with onscreen discussion of the film and its background with the director and cast. Some of this dialogue is used again in the feature length commentary with director Patricia Rozema. This track is a compilation of a few recordings, and gives a lot of depth to the decisions and technical aspects of making the film. Rozema discusses her decision to include lines from Austen's letters and early writings in the film. The combination of sources, while occasionally overlapping, gives a very good look at the behind the scenes of the film, and points out several interesting sections that might otherwise be missed on first or second viewing. There is also a (forced but skippable) 4:3 trailer for Emma which starts the disc off, and a 4:3 trailer for the feature. While I wouldn't call the number of extras overwhelming, they are of very good quality and serve their purpose well.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

If you are a fan of the other Austen adaptations available, this one is a must have. It has its own personality, but shares the same charm and humor as its companions, a little more risqué than the others, though not overly so. The acting and direction are first rate, and the visual style keeps it unique in the family. The extras add substantially to the disc, and I would have to give this a very high recommendation.

 


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