WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.
Mansfield Park (2007) by Ian B. McDonald (Director)
Type: Classic, Historical Fiction, Romance
Basic Plot: The poor Fanny Price has been sent to live with her rich, hedonistic relatives. There she and her relatives are visited by the Crawfords, a worldly, ambitions sibling couple.
Plot: 3/5 Average: The story may bore children and those that are looking for a passionate romance, but it still is laced with light romance and humor that makes all Jane Austen movies delightful. The suspense of who Fanny will end up with is the main plot of the movie, and it is a good one.
While the plot was good, the pacing of the movie, as well as the ending prevented the story from being amazing. Novels compressed into movies are never as great as the novel, causing the story onscreen to be a bit short and rushed compared to the one on print. The story is still good and appreciable, but it does lack some of the beauty and fullness that the original one had, as well as characters that tended to be a little off color at times.
Acting: 3½/5 Above Average: The acting was well performed by all of the actors and actresses. It is not extraordinary, but every glance is believable and every word well toned. This being said, it was not extremely moving, perhaps fitting into the realistic feel of the movie.
Costumes and Scenery: 3/5 Average: The costumes and scenes were definitely more on the realistic side than on the fantasy, though they were just barely laced with beauty as not too be unpleasant to look at. While not eye candy, it was not
Moral: 3½/5 Several Mostly Good Morals: Many of the morals in Mansfield Park are positive, though for sake of time a bit brushed over. The main moral is seeing the truth in things. Both Fanny and her cousin Edmund marry frivolous, ill moraled people on the belief that they can change or that they are not near as bad as they think them to be. Eventually though they both realize that all the confidence, personality, and good looks in the world do not make up for good character and like morals. Several other good morals are briefly mentioned in speech. Being involved in one’s own children’s upbringing, learning to take good principles to heart rather than merely behaving well, as well as doing what is right not just what is considered appropriate by society, are all encouraged in the conversations of the characters and events of the movie. One learns most of all that a good heart is a million times more important than any formal front of goodness put up for society.
The only negative moral that was present was the belief that one should follow their heart. A man asks Fanny to guide him, but she says “we all have our best guides within us.” Though only shown once or twice, the “follow your heart” theory is briefly shown.
Overall: 3/5 Average: In the end, I would say this is a very realistic Jane Austen movie, though unlike Persuasion (1995) it is not so realistic as to be boring or uncharming. It has romance and humor, but a believable one and slightly plain one. It is enjoyable in its own way, though some, especially the young, may find it boring. I recommend the movie for woman and girls fourteen to sixteen and older.
Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 2/5 Suggestive Content and Light Romance: A man and woman kiss three times. An engaged woman kisses a man (who she is not engaged to) four times in a row. A married couple presses their cheeks together and give an air kiss. A man hugs a woman in a brotherly fashion, though she is in love with him. Men take woman’s hands throughout the movie. A man kisses a woman’s hand, and one man, attempts to kiss a woman’s hand, though she pulls it away in time. A woman strokes a man’s jacket. A man sees a woman in her nightclothes and is briefly a bit embarrassed. Women wear low dresses throughout the movie, some of them appearing to push up the bosom to make it appear fuller. Several times women bend over, indirectly showing off the chest liberally. A sick man is seen shirtless. A man sees a woman’s garter and says in attempted jest, “Wile my eye caught your garter; my thoughts were far above it.” One woman sticks out her ankle to flirt with a man. Characters glance at each other in a flirting manner and make efforts to get the others attention. A woman asks if her dress is to short. A man says that a girl is playing the role as “the mother of an illegitimate child” in a play, though this fact is never mentioned again. A brother and sister talk about flirting with the inhabitants of a house. A brother playfully calls his sister “dearest minx.” There is a briefly seen statue of a cherub that is possibly naked. A man reads the phrase “wind kisses the trees.” A woman asks what person she “will have the pleasure of making love to” in a play (the phrase “making love to” did not mean what it does now and is in the original book).
The story involves a romance between a woman and her cousin, which at the time was not considered wrong in any way. A married woman runs off with another man, though this is not shown. A woman says that the couple could marry, though it is clear her companion is against this and sees it as wrong.
Violence: ½/5 Brief Mention: A woman once says, “I could knock their… heads together.”
Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 1/5 Brief Misuse: “Thank God” is said twice, at least once clearly flippantly.
Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 2/5 Brief Emotional and Lightly Intense and Disturbing Content:A man becomes unconscious and sick in the lungs from overdrinking. A is shown putting leaches on a man’s chest. It is mentioned that he had a fever that caused him “to forget who and what he was,” though this is not shown. Characters worry over him, some even believing he will die. It is hinted that one woman hopes he will die, though she says “I’ve never bribed a physician in my life.” A man briefly talks about his and his crews’ near death experience at sea. A man goes away to fight in the East Indies. A girl pretends to trip so that a man will help her. Preventing a headache is briefly mentioned in speech once. Characters cry from being yelled at, betrayal, worry, and childish fear.
Religious Issues: ½/5 A man talks of joining the clergy and does, though it is not shown. A person is called Reverend once. A chapel and chappelin are briefly mentioned, the latter once.
Magic: 0/5 None
Others: Characters dance. Characters drink what is no doubt wine, and a man is mentioned to drink and gamble habitually. He once says that he “need[s] another drink.”
Overall: 3/5 Teenage Appropriate: I believe thirteen to fourteen is a good age to begin watching the movie. It does deal with sin, such as adultery, though it is not at all looked at positively. It is in fact a refreshing traditional view of sin, with the characters clearly disgusted with the events though still loving the person themselves.
Note: I would recommend this version of Mansfield Park (2007), I do not recommend Mansfield Park (1999), which does have explicitly sexual scenes despite the PG-13 rating.