Catherine’s runaway imagination

Like last week, soon after the end of The Amazing Race, I changed channels to PBS for Northanger Abbey, the second of seven films in Masterpiece Theatre‘s Complete Jane Austen.

When it opened with Catherine Morland and her siblings playing baseball, I thought it would be one of these post-modern adaptations akin to Rozema’s Mansfield Park, but this being an Andrew Davies script, it becomes a more traditional version. (Was there baseball in late-18th-century England?)

I thought Felicity Jones carried the role of Catherine well. She expressed Catherine’s innocence and naiveté, particularly when she was allowed to be swayed by the Thorpes and her brother that the Tilneys had left without her. I was surprised to see Carey Mulligan as Isabella Thorpe; Carey carried the Doctor Who episode “Blink”, in which the Doctor figures little in the plot. But I digress.

I titled the post as a thumbs-up to the fantasy sequences Catherine dreams up after reading trashy Gothic novels by candlelight. I somehow thought of Family Guy‘s cutaway sequences, but clearly Northanger‘s aren’t as derivative. (Or maybe it’s an excuse to combine two clearly divergent works in a post.) Nevertheless, they worked rather well, particularly if one reads Northanger as a satire on the same novels Catherine was reading.

Like Persuasion the week before, the ending seemed forced and rushed, and I didn’t quite buy Henry Tilney’s proclamation of love to Catherine (and another hesitant kissing session that results!). I must confess that it’s been a long time since I’ve read any of Austen’s novels, but I remember enough of the plot and main characters that bits of the story do come back to me as I watched. Unfortunately in both films so far, I forget what has happened to the other characters in the end beyond the heroine getting married, if Austen wrote those at all. Another reason to pick up those books… 8/10


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