I remember when this film came out. It was very controversial and much outrage. I didn’t like it the first time I saw it.
However, I have changed my mind and this is now my favourite Mansfield Park adaptation. There are significant changes to some of the characters. Fanny is energetic, witty and a writer (in fact she appears to have written Austen’s juvenilia), Henry Crawford is much more sympathetically portrayed (Fanny accepts him in Portsmouth and then changes her mind) and Tom Bertram is not a hard-living elder son who spends too much money but is a young man haunted by demons.
This film is beautiful – the sets and the costumes are stunning. Also, it was quite ingenious to have the same actress play the roles of Lady Bertram and Mrs Price (Lindsay Duncan) because you can see what hard living (or marrying for love as she says) does to Mrs Price.
This film is more political than other Austen adaptations. Gender inequality, slavery, and family are all examined. If you are looking for a pretty period drama that focuses on romance, then this is probably not for you. I think this adaptation is true to the spirit of Austen’s novel, but takes it much further than Austen did.
More … (I think both of the links below a by the same author, but does such a great job of writing about Austen and in particular the adaptation that I couldn’t resist linking to both).