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Gainsborough Pictures Reframed

Or: Raising Jane Austen for 1990s Film- A Film-Historic and Film-Analytical Study of the 1995 Films "Sense and Sensibility</I> and "Persuasion</I>


Martina Anzinger

In the 1990s U.S. and British adaptations of Jane Austen novels enjoyed unprecedented popularity. To find out why, one has to revise and go beyond what has dominated in the discussion of these films: the «fidelity-to-the-novel»-discourse and the «influence-of-national-cinema»-discourse. Thus, in this book film theory, film history, various kinds of film analysis (structural, feminist, Marxist) and literary analysis are combined. From these angles, the 1990s and previous Austen films are studied and compared, two of them in detail: the 1995 «U.S.» feature film Sense and Sensibility and the 1995 «British» telefilm Persuasion. This analysis shows: the 1990s Austen films, though reflecting certain features of British and Hollywood cinema and not greatly deviating from the novels, are independent works of art; also, they are products of their time, displaying, for instance, a liberal feminist attitude and criticism of class distinctions.
Contents: The Novel/Film Debate: history of adapting literature - problems and solutions - kinds of adaptations and their analysis – Film-Historic Approach: history and style of British and U.S. adaptations - British and U.S. Austen films - influence of previous films and filming traditions on the 1995 Sense & Sensibility and Persuasion – Film-Analytical Approach: the two 1995 films’ «fidelity» to the novels - the books’ and Austen’s cinematic potential - structural, feminist and Marxist film analysis - ideological messages and how these were conveyed.