Inspire: Mansfield Park (1999)

Patricia Rozema’s 1999 version of Mansfield Park should be compulsory viewing – the colours, the camera work, the mise en scene and the deliberate sparseness that she approaches Jane Austen’s novel with are something to behold.

This is 1806 for heaven’s sake, this is not the first time it has happened in the world, nor the last.

Anyone who thinks Jane Austen’s novels are a bit of historical fluff is willfully ignoring the absolute social critique and inherent ironies within the novel. Rozema strips everything back to the content required to the story and the commentary that juxtaposes so well with this current era. It’s history without sentimentality and with a real link to and commentary on recent history.

The leit motifs of music, sparrows/bird flight and camerawork are beautifully lyrical and something to behold. She has a beautiful eye for composition with many establishing shots in the film able to work as poignant still images in their own right.

The choice of leads was excellent too, the sparse beauty of both film and narrative could have been cold, but Frances O’Connor and Johnny Lee Miller bring a beautiful warmth and realness that balances it out.

Love love love love love. There is a reason why I own this film on both VHS and DVD and have watched it over 20 times

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