28 July 2016 Susannah

Film adaptations of the classics

Love & Friendship image

There has been quite a resurgence of interest recently in the world’s best-selling novelist Agatha Christie, and her novels. There was an excellent adaptation last year of And Then There Were None, and two biopics about Agatha’s life are in the pipeline, one focussing on the 11 days when she went missing. Kenneth Branagh is currently directing Murder on the Orient Express (with Angelina Jolie in the cast), and there has been discussion about filming a Julian Fellowes script of Crooked House.

On the subject of film adaptation of the classics, I was terribly disappointed by the recent Dr Thorne, Julian Fellowes’ version of Trollope’s great novel. Please do not judge the novel by the incredibly abbreviated 3-part TV version. The novel is one of my favourite 19thC books – Trollope slowly builds up character and dilemma, probing the psychologies of his characters with such insight. All that was left in the TV version was the hugely cut plot – the charm had gone. Do yourself a favour and read the novel, or listen to Timothy West read it to you on unabridged audio. Sheer bliss!

Love & Friendship image

Love & Friendship, a Jane Austen film adaptation Churchill Productions Limited.

Far far better is the new film version of Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan – the movie is called Love and Friendship. I loved it – clever script, lovely acting and gorgeous costumes. Do go and see it, and try reading the book on which it is based to see just what a genius Jane Austen was as a teenager.

If you enjoyed Love and Friendship, come and learn more about the novel behind the movie. Jane Austen wrote Lady Susan in her late teens. Margi Abraham will give a fascinating talk about the novel, its subversive heroine, and the recent film adaptation at a meeting of the Jane Austen Society of Australia. Saturday 20 August, 2pm at the Uniting Church Hall, Lord St, Roseville. Cost $5 and afternoon tea included. No need to book – just turn up on the day.

Which movie adaptions have you enjoyed? Have you seen Love and Friendship? What did you think it? Do you generally enjoy the book more than the film? I’d love to hear your comments, please click below.


For further reading:

  PURCHASE on Google Play Books: Agatha Christie And Then There Were None

   Project Gutenberg: Anthony Trollope Doctor Thorne
   YouTube: Anthony Trollope Doctor Thorne
    PURCHASE on Audible: Anthony Trollope Doctor Thorne read by Timothy West

   Project Gutenberg: Jane Austen Lady Susan
   Librivox: Jane Austen Lady Susan


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Featured image credit- Location images of Love & Friendship, a Jane Austen film adaptation starring Kate Bekinsdale and Chloe Sevigny, directed by Whit Stillman. Churchill Productions Limited. Image courtesy Transmission Films.
Body image credit- Location images of Love & Friendship, a Jane Austen film adaptation starring Kate Bekinsdale and Chloe Sevigny, directed by Whit Stillman. Churchill Productions Limited. Image courtesy Transmission Films.

Comments (4)

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with yours and Roslyn’s comments on the disappointing Dr. Thorne. I enjoyed Love and Friendship very much, although the number of characters of similar appearance was confusing until well into the film. This wasn’t helped by the, to modern ears, outmoded speech patterns. I had to consciously adapt to these and concentrate. I don’t mind being made to work hard, but wasn’t prepared for that, which spoilt the first 10 – 15 minutes of the film for me.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Dr Thorne was a wasted opportunity – such a pity! I adored Love and Friendship, but perhaps it helps to know the book really well so you do not have to sort out the characters. And I guess I live so much in a Jane Austen-related world that I forget that her dialogue can seem outmoded to modern ears. Thanks for your comments – it’s always good to hear what people think of films I recommend.

  2. I completely agree about the TV version of Doctor Thorne. It was abbreviated to the point of caricature at times. I have since re-read the novel and appreciated yet again the nuanced account of the operation of class in British society. While reading it I particularly loved, yet again, the character Miss Dunstable – who was a travesty of the book version in the TV one, as the actress was too pretty, fragile and young to be the formidable but kind and witty Miss Dunstable, who saw through every inept attempt to secure her fortune, but was still generous enough to fight Frank Gresham’s corner.I haven’t seen Love and Friendship and was wondering if I should, but am now reassured.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Wasn’t it a disappointment, when such a fabulous TV series could have been made from it. Miss Dunstable is a superb character, and she lost everything that makes her great in the novel and became a rather silly American woman. It’s hard to understand why they changed her nationality, and so terribly sad that they turned a wonderful novel into a trite TV adaptation.

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