This is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mansfield Park, and I’m celebrating it by reading or watching (and reviewing) as many spin-offs, re-tellings, and dramatizations as I can find this year. This DVD, the 2007 Masterpiece Theater version starring Billie Piper and Black Ritson, is the third DVD I’ve watched. I’m afraid I have to say that it comes in third to the other two (reviews here and here.)
I think my major problem with this version of Mansfield Park is that it’s very difficult to follow the plot if you haven’t read the book, and you are constantly confused by the changes they’ve made if you have. Two examples:
In one scene, Fanny is playing some kind of game (hide and seek?) with a much younger girl who never appears anywhere else. Susan? What is she doing at Mansfield Park? But she is left a mystery.
Instead of sending Fanny to her family in Portsmouth, Sir Thomas leaves her at Mansfield Park while he takes Lady Bertram and Aunt Norris to visit their mother. Never mentioned is the fact that this mother must also be Fanny’s grandmother. In fact, all of the scenes are set at Mansfield Park. This may have made filming easier, but it is very unlike the original, where Henry Crawford appears much different against the background of Portsmouth.
While the DVD had its moments, I found it a little disappointing overall. Certainly it does not come up to the older BBC version.