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Persuasion: 1971

Filmed in 1971, Persuasion was the first of the “old” BBC Austen films (though by no means the BBC’s first Austen adaptation, it is the first available on film.) The script, written by Julian Mitchell (Elizabeth R, Inspector Morse) is at times almost painfully true to the book, while at others, as in the case of “The Letter”, it deviates most jarringly. Directed by Howard Baker (The Return of Sherlock Holmes, 1986) it contains many scenes cut from the later version (Mrs. Smith’s account of Mr. Elliot’s perfidy, Mr. Elliot’s elopement, “Poor Dick”) and a few invented ones. With a run time of nearly four hours, this film certainly has the time to develop the story and characters that most modern adaptations lack. Persuasion1 (or P1 as it is known to fans) may be one of the most controversial films in Austen history. Those who love it do so unabashed- those who don’t are perhaps even more vocal. There are many reasons this film is disparaged. Many complain about the obviously ‘60’s inspired hairstyles(“…what is it about Anne’s hair?! It gives new meaning to the term “Big Hair!”*) and costume color choices- a few of the orange and green combinations are quite distracting. (Has a period film ever been so dated?) Some find the characters personally irritating (“…don’t you wonder how ANYONE could even consider this Louisa Musgrove as a possible wife? She is by far the most annoying character I’ve come across in any Austen adaptation.*) One author even

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