Friday, January 11, 2013

Movie Review- Northanger Abbey (2007)

All my long time readers know that I am a big fan of Jane Austen's novels.  I have read them all multiple times and watched many film adaptions of the books as well.  Normally when people name off their favorite Austen novel, it is Pride and Prejudice, or Sense and Sensibility.  It isn't normally Northanger Abbey.  I would have to agree that Northanger Abbey is not my favorite (that of course is Pride and Prejudice), but I like it enough to have read it more than once and anticipate re-reading it again in the future.  I feel the character to be highly relatable; I say that because my mother told me that of all Jane Austen's heroines, I was most like Catherine Morland.  I didn't appreciate that too much, if you are wondering why, you must not be very familiar with the story.  Catherine Morland is quite naive.  However, Catherine is a very sweet girl so I guess it could be somewhat of a complement.

To put it loosely, the story line of Northanger Abbey is this.  Catherine Morland is the daughter of a clergyman in a small town.  She is an avid reader of Gothic novels, which largely shapes her character of naivety, and want for adventure.  Her well-off neighbors, the Allens, invite her to go with them to Bath. While at Bath, Catherine meets Isabella Thorpe, a vivacious young woman who also has a taste for Gothic novels, and they become fast friends.

Catherine also meets Henry Tilney, who she falls in love with, and his sister Eleanor.  They become friends and when the Tilneys leave Bath they invite Catherine to come with them for a visit at their home: Northanger Abbey.  I will tell you no more as it would give away too much, I just suggest you read the book.

Now for the movie. I got this one from the library after I saw at the shelf one day while shelving DVDs.  I was immediately excited at having found a movie of one of Austen's books.  I talked to my Dad, who had never heard of this movie, and then my mom and dad both agreed that I could get it and we could watch it.  My mom and I watched it together and for the most part we enjoyed it.  I was quite impressed with the casting of all of the characters.  I felt like each one of them fulfilled the pictures I had in my mind.  Mr. Tilney is one of my favorite heroes of Austen and I felt that JJ Field did him perfect justice.  Felicity Jones played Catherine Morland and I think she did such an excellent job of capturing Catherine's naivety.  All the other more minor characters were acted incredibly as well.  

Considering the time constraints, I felt like the movie did an excellent job on telling the story and it managed to include a good amount of the witty lines for which Austen is so famous.  Despite how much I was impressed with this movie, there were a few problems.  To illustrate how Catherine's mind went with Gothic novels, the filmmakers showed Catherine's Gothic dream sequences.  I didn't mind that so much except that they over sexualized the dreams, which obviously made the movie less clean.  While not really showing much, the ideas are hinted at enough to make one uncomfortable.  Another thing I had a problem with along those same lines was an "after sex scene" but again it was only a reference to what had occurred.  Also, despite the fact the Northanger Abbey is suppose to be making fun of Gothic novels, the movie actually seems to tilt more towards being a Gothic novel like story.  That kind of undermines the whole story.  However, it isn’t so complete that it ruins the movie.  

Overall I really enjoyed this movie adaptation of one of my favorite books.  Unfortunately, due to what I mentioned above, I don't feel safe recommending it too lightly, especially to guys.  So there is my forewarning.  If you choose to watch it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  However, if you don't, read the book, it is even better!

Lois Johnson, avid writer, tea drinker, and reader but first and foremost, avid Christian.


  1. Northanger Abbey is the only Jane Austen novel that I haven't read yet, but it certainly sounds very interesting. I'll have to pick it up sometime soon.

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