Liveblogging Jane Austen: Part Five

This is likely the last part of the Jane Austen liveblogging experiment [1]

9:51PM:  Spoiler alert:  A marriage at the middle of a novel/movie is not going to end well.  Mr. Rushworth and Mariah marry and the event is narrated by none other than the trusty and polite Fanny Price.  Then we move to a rainy day where Fanny has a conversation with Mary that is highly interrupted.  I wonder if there could be a “bad line reading” combination here.  “I see no wonder in the shrubbery” says Mary Crawford.  It is a shame she cannot enjoy the shrubbery–it is not her destiny to enjoy Mansfield Park.

9:55PM:  Mrs. Grant spends a lot of time thinking about the menu.  “A large income is the best recipe for happiness,” says Mary.  She is certainly a bit of a mercenary.  Mr. Grant cares a lot about his diet.  Fanny is so shy when it comes to accepting invitations.  Mrs. Norris does a good job at ruining the joy in invitations as well.  I definitely look forward to her departure from the plot.  I wonder how long that will take, though.

9:59PM:  Awkward flirtation 101:  Edmund and Fanny in the carriage.  Edmund is not very smooth with the complements to the ladyfolk.  “Cringing with Edmund.”  The dinner conversation is pretty decent, although Henry Crawford makes an appearance and he is mincing about sharing the shop talk about the ministry that Edmund and Mr. Grant are having.  Henry Crawford is pretty savage talking about Mr. Rushworth, even when he is complimenting Fanny on her kindness.

10:03PM:  Henry’s plan to woo Fanny Price is catastrophically bad, and Mary is certainly wise to caution him against it.  The conversation between the two is quite telling.  Henry finds her to be enchanting because of her reserve.  His plan is, all things considered, a good one, in opening Fanny’s heart by bringing her beloved brother William.  And now we come to the matter of Fanny’s chain before a dance is thrown in her honor where she is officially “out” as far as socializing is concerned.

10:08PM:  Mrs. Bertram’s voice is really unpleasant, which is remarkable given how many unpleasant voices there are in this movie–even with Mr. Rushworth and Mr. Yates and Henry Crawford, her voice still stands out as particularly bad.  This doesn’t seem to match the book, which views her voice as soft and restrained and placid, but not uncanny valleyish, not cringy or uncomfortable, like the sound of fingernails dragging across a chalkboard or the sound of a creaking door in a horror movie.  She seems like she is about to faint or pace out and fighting it off.

10:15PM:  Fanny’s attempts to practice her dancing lead to a scolding from Mrs. Norris, who if she was playing in “Jane Austen survivor” would be among the first voted off the island.  Edmund and Fanny have an interesting conversation, but the sound editing is terrible, almost as terrible as the news that the flirtatious Miss Crawford will never dance with a clergyman.  Tomorrow he will leave to visit with a friend to be ordained together with him.  Edmund has a heavy heart, but tries to rejoice at least on Fanny’s account.  He does seem to be a bit heavy-hearted of a person, as solemn and sober as Fanny is.

10:20PM:  Henry Crawford engages Fanny for the first two dances, and that goes relatively well.  Fanny shows her diffidence by being shy about opening the dance.  To listen to the adults talk about the blessings that Fanny has had, and the credit that is due for her elegance and beauty and goodness.

10:26PM:  I had to restart my computer because the interwebs were acting up, and during that time the dance ended and Fanny showed her remarkable and loyal filial love to her brother William.  After Edmund leaves there is a long conversation between Fanny and Mary.  And then Henry returns with designs on Fanny’s heart, which sets up the most unpleasant part of the novel for me at least.  Henry’s desire to marry Fanny Price leads Mary to comment on it as if it was a done deal.

10:35PM:  Henry begins his proposal in an interesting way, sharing news of William’s promotion, before seeking to manipulate Fanny into accepting Henry as a husband, which doesn’t work, as Fanny is decided against him.  Sir Bertram sees Fanny sitting without a fire and sees Mrs. Norris as the cause of it.  The conversation between him and Fanny is decidedly uncomfortable, because Fanny’s obstinance is remarkable and unaccountable, at least to him.  “I cannot like him enough to marry him,” says Fanny, and she is certainly being honest.  It is a shame that Fanny has such a hard time explaining why it is that she cannot see Henry Crawford as a suitable partner.

10:45PM:  Fanny does some crying but is unable to explain why Henry is unsuitable, how he sported with the affections and even kissed Mrs. Rushworth, but of course [spoiler alert] that will come out in due time.  When she returns from the recommended walk there is a fire in her room for the first time ever.  And now time for another cringy conversation between Sir Bertram and Fanny concerning Henry’s suit.  Awkward conversation with Mrs. Norris in 3…2…1…We can count on Mrs. Bertram to be polite, but Mrs. Norris always has something unpleasant to say.  Mrs. Norris’ conversation concerning the spirit of secrecy and independence of Fanny is quite out of place, and uncharitable.  The less one hears from Mrs. Norris the better.

10:54PM:  A long and somewhat slow conversation between Edmund and the Crawfords follows.  Indeed, a great many of the conversations in this movie are painfully and awkwardly slow.  The movie could probably be half an hour less if the speeches were not so ponderous.  I suppose it’s not all bad that the pauses are kept in.  Henry’s dramatic reading of the speech in Henry VIII is not a bad one.  He does recognize the disapprobation of Fanny, even if he cannot understand why she disapproves of his references to constancy.  Mary then tries to scold Fanny but doesn’t have the heart for it.  She is going to friends, cynical friends, and will never see Fanny again.

11:06PM:  That interminable conversation between Fanny and Mary is over, and immediately after that Sir Thomas decides to send Fanny back to Portsmouth.  Too bad Edmund is rather tone deaf to Fanny’s heart and what it contains.  I wonder how cringy the Prices will be, and I suppose we do not have much longer to figure it out.  Mrs. Bertram, as indolent as she is, knows just how to discourage Mrs. Norris from going with the Prices by pointing out that she will have to pay for the trip back from Portsmouth herself.

11:11PM:  The first entrance into Portsmouth is just as chaotic as one would expect.  This is deeply uncomfortable even as someone listening to it, much less to imagine the shy and timid Fanny dealing with it.  Fanny’s siblings are a relatively beautiful lot for their impoverished state and the chaotic nature of their dwelling.

11:14PM:  The sound engineering is off the chain.  This is a deeply unpleasant scene, although the accent of the houseservant is a definitely a bad one.  The Price household is chaotic to the extreme.  Now it’s time for the dulcet tones of Mr. Henry Crawford.  That’s a frilly shirt that he is wearing.  If he was any more frou frou he would be in a new wave band, early 80’s, with hair by the lead singer of A Flock Of Seagulls or something like that.  And he has an awkward conversation with Mrs. Price, who seems unable to see that he came to torment her eldest daughter rather than engage in any sort of business in the port.

11:20PM:  At least the cat didn’t try to prevent my typing this time.  Instead he’s sitting on my mum’s lap, looking to be warm I guess after having sat in his own chair for the last hour or so.  The cat is a bit more entertaining than watching Henry simper.  Henry gives some unwelcome news about Edmund being in town but not writing any letters.  Bad Edmund.  Don’t you know that in a Jane Austen novel you have to write lots of letters.  #Youhadonejob Oh no, now it’s time for that famous walk where Fanny’s sister Sarah serves as the most unwelcome third wheel of the decade.  Yet another member of the family that Henry can be gallant towards.  At least it’s good to know that the Price family requires a third wheel when their daughters are around strange gentlemen.  “Portsmouth is such a sad place,” well said Mrs. Price.  Mr. Crawford claims to have sailed from the dockyard of Portsmouth, probably in search of a French bordello or something of that sort.  And now we get to see the drunken Mr. Price, who has enough Gin Blossoms to start his own band.  If his nose was any more red he’s be Rudolf the red-nosed half-pensioned disabled sailor.  The adaptation kept his cringeworthy comments about his comely daughters, though, the reason why Fanny locks her door at night.  This adaptation brings on the cringe factor something fierce.

11:26PM:  More idle professions of love come from Henry Crawford.  One wonders how many more minutes it will be until he tries to seduce her cousin.  It is a shame the Bertrams are such lousy letter-writers.  Henry tries to concern himself with Fanny, much to her displeasure, but her spirit and resistance are quite remarkable and praiseworthy.  Mr. Crawford smartly avoids eating their mutton–it might disagree with his fussy tastes.  He strikes me as a bit of a gourmand, and the Price food is probably pretty terrifying to behold.  Henry tells Fanny that he plans on going to Norfolk to his estate, but Fanny refuses to be his guide and tell him what he knows to be right.  I suspect that trouble will not be waiting long.  The movie, smartly, has cut down on the number of unpleasant Portsmouth scenes, which is for the best as they take up about a third of the novel and that would be intolerable in film, especially since the actor playing Mr. Price could only be a drunken lecher for so long before getting out of character or prompting a visit to the king’s bench.

11:31PM:  Finally, a letter from Mrs. Bertram, to show that Tom has the family alcoholism and has gotten a dangerous fever as a result of his revelries.   She tries to console herself by telling Fanny that the family is not consumptive, although one would wish that was the case for some of them.  Even when Fanny is reading a letter her father holds a bottle with an unsteady hand.  Delerium tremens, probably.  And Sarah wants to hear more about Mansfield Park after Fanny has locked the door for the night.  Spoiler alert:  she will be enjoying the place before too long.  Right after this there is a letter from Mary Crawford, writing after Edmund has gone away, although her desire to have Edmund inherit from his brother leads her to be pretty harsh towards his ordination.  She reveals, rather unpleasantly, that Henry went into town and went to a party of the Rushworths, which sets into train that unfortunate chain of events that leads to Mariah’s ruin and Julia’s elopement.  Admittedly, this letter allows us to see the affair between Mariah and Henry in all of its unpleasantness.  “To do good satisfies both hunger and thirst,” says Henry, before he sets about to do something very evil.  The recital of Lover’s Vows is a most unwelcome beginning.

11:39PM:  If Fanny is hearing scandalous rumors in Portsmouth, there is clearly something about.  Mrs. Norris blames Fanny for Henry’s seduction of Mariah, but Sir Thomas will have nothing about this.  Mary’s attempts to cover Henry for his affair go poorly, and the results are quite tragic.  Admittedly, the thought of Mariah and Mrs. Norris in some desolate and isolated house in the country are not the most unappealing ideas in the course of the novel, but that will have to wait at least a few minutes.  Even Mr. Price isn’t drunk enough to avoid reading between the lines about the disastrous fracas between Mr. and Mrs. Rushworth.  Sadly, I have to agree with Mr. Price that a bit of flogging would do both Mr. C and Mrs. R a world of good, which may be the only good thing I’ve heard from Mr. Price the whole movie so far.

11:43PM:  Edmund arrives to take Fanny (and Sarah (?)) back to Mansfield Park, where the family is desolate over their trials.  And now we hear of Julia’s elopement to Gretna Green with Mr. Yates.  This is rather Lydiaish, one must admit, the behavior of both of the Bertram girls.  It’s interesting to see how timid the usually effusive Betsy is around her cousin Edmund.  That bodes ill.  Perhaps she needs a lock on the door as well, because Edmund is not a particularly threatening gentleman.  “Fanny makes herself indispensable to those she loves,” a rather a propos quote from Edmund, who at least is improving in his gallantry game.  And now the three travelers are off to Mansfield Park to set things aright.

11:48PM:  Sarah gets her first view of Mansfield Park and reminds Fanny that she is going to have to put into practice her new knowledge of cutlery:  Salad fork, soup spoon, steak knife and all of that.  The actor playing young Tom does a good job working with the cane, even if he doesn’t have any gouty complaints.  I guess fever can give you a limp too.  Sadly, we have to hear Mrs. Bertram again, even her snoring as Sarah reads to her.  Awkward courtship in 3…2…1…I wonder how many months it will take before Edmund clumsily asks Fanny to marry him.  But now he’s talking about the awkward end of his relationship with Mary, which is not the smoothest of moves, admittedly.  Unfortunately, Mary cannot defend moral standards to Edmund to his satisfaction, which leads to their decisive break, by blaming Fanny for Henry’s behavior with Mariah.  The fact that Mary is sounding like Mrs. Norris, along with a praise of a “standing flirtation” seems to greatly offend Edmund, rightfully so.  Mary suggest that Edmund encourage his father to induce Mariah and Henry to marry, which is not going to happen with the stern rectitude of the Bertrams.  At least the conversation ends with the conviction of Edmund in Fanny’s constancy.

11:59PM:  And now it’s time for the happy ending.  Mr. Rushworth gets his divorce, Mrs. Norris goes off to set up house with the disgraced Mariah.  Mr. Yates and Julia marry and reconcile with Sir Thomas, and Fanny marries Edmund.  Of course, at least we didn’t have to hear Edmund’s clumsy proposal, as that would have been painful and cringy.  Fanny and Edmund even end up with a pug of their own.  That’s a pleasant enough ending, and role the credits, where there aren’t any actors famous enough to be bit parts in Dr. Who episodes even.  #Thiscastinghadnobudget  #BBCfilmsonthecheap  And that’s a wrap.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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