| In the Spotlight |
The release of a new movie based on a Jane Austen novel has become an almost yearly delight. Since 1995, seven movies have been made from her works. The latest, Mansfield Park (Miramax; rated PG-13 for brief violent images and sexual content), is beautiful to look at, like its predecessors Emma and Sense and Sensibility. But unlike those films, which were faithful to the books upon which they were based, this Austen strays far afield. It turns Fanny Price, the poor girl who is taken into her rich relative's home, into an early 19th-century pre-feminist, devoted to her art. It transforms her wealthy uncle, Lord Bertram (played by playwright Harold Pinter), into a brutal slave master, a kind of two-faced monster, whose double life produces misery both in the West Indies and at home. Fanny is given to making speeches that are so 1990s that you may want to giggle or cry. Despite these politically correct tweakings, the film is still enjoyable, especially for those unfamiliar with the book. Those who like their Austen unadulterated might want to skip this screen version.