Tuesday, January 22, 2008

itv Northanger Abbey

I just have one comment to make about last Sunday's Weekly Austen episode, Northanger Abbey, which was infinitely more enjoyable than the previous week's Persuasion.

I love all of Austen's novels, though, unlike a fond parent, not equally. Northanger Abbey is not among my personal favorites, but it is a fine novel nonetheless, and particularly well-suited to a screen adaptation. This 90-minute version stuck quite well to the spirit of the book.

My real argument here is, why 90 minutes?

Any fan of Austen's writing understands that it is the very slow exposition, with its detailed explorations of character and setting, that transport the reader to a different time and place and allow you to sink into the story. I find the Cliff's Notes aspect of these productions off-putting. I want to savor the details, and instead am finding myself rushed ASAP towards the story's end without having had a chance to invest in caring about the characters.

Ask anyone: the BBC Pride and Prejudice (sigh!) is the gold standard for any adaptation of Austen. The dialogue is authentic, the pace is slow enough (but not too), and additions and subtractions are subtle and unjarring.

More like that, please.

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