Repeated watchings of this adaptation of Persuasion over the past few weeks has been fun. If this post was a review of the film, I would have lots of good things to say, but alas, this is another “goofs” post, so I’m going to start griping right out the gate. My opening complaint is about that ridiculous race through Bath as the climactic scene of the film. What was that train wreck? It was badly conceived and so anachronistic and out of character for Anne Elliot that I felt nothing but pity for poor Sally Hawkins who had to do it. A few of the goofs come from that desperate run, but I limited it to three.
10.) Don’t look now, but are those people stalking you? The three people walking ahead of Anne Elliot and her friend, Harriet Smith, are suddenly behind them when Anne turns to begin her mad dash through Bath.
9.) The maid of the inkpot. I’m sure this was intentional, but it is, at the same time, bizarre enough to earn it a coveted spot on the goofs list. Here’s how I envision the direction: “We’d like you to play a minor role. It’s a non-speaking part, but vitally important to the scene. Our heroine, Anne, will be busily supervising the household staff on cleaning and closing up the house. Everyone around you will be working hard. Anne will be carrying a very important checklist and marking things off with her pen as she moves about the house. At the very moment that her pen runs dry, that is where you come in. You will be standing there, conveniently holding an inkpot for her to dip the pen in. You will then hold that position. It’s very important that you not move, for a few minutes later, she will hurry past you again, and we need you to still be standing there like a statue, just holding the ink.” So much for retrenchment.
8.) Is Anne out of time? Anne’s a bit distracted here, chasing down her man, but viewers with a good eye can spot the radio tower atop the hill in the background and the utility pole nestled in among the trees.
7.) Who can think of modesty at a time like this? Anne is dressing for dinner at Uppercross when the hubbub over little Charles Musgrove falling from a tree is heard from outside. She is still in her undergarments, and quickly dons a housecoat before going to see what is going on. The problem is that she doesn’t make more than a cursory attempt to close it. By today’s standards, she is covered well enough, but this would be dancing on the edge of propriety in 1814 – the equivalent of a bra and slip.
6.) Is Kellych haunted? You know those creepy horror movies where a shadow or shape is seen moving in the background? Well, Persuasion has one of those moments. The Crofts are alone in a room full of mirrors, speculating that it would make a good room for Frederick, when the figure of a man crosses the mirror immediately behind Mrs. Croft, meaning that he’s actually in front of her. I couldn’t get a good frame where you can make him out clearly because he’s in motion, but in this image you can see the skin tone where his face is. I’m sure it’s tough keeping the crew out of the shot when the set is full of mirrors.
5.) Would Wentworth be so rude? This one bothered me from the very first time I watched this adaptation. On the carriage ride from Lyme to Uppercross, Wentworth is escorting Henrietta and Anne in the carriage. Harriet gets in and her position is on the forward-facing seat next to the window. Because persons in the rear-facing seat are more prone to motion sickness, ladies are given the forward-facing seats and the men take the rear-facing as a matter of courtesy. In this scene, we see that Harriet and Wentworth are beside one another in the forward-facing seat, which puts Anne in the rear-facing position. This is out of character for any gentleman of that era, and with Wentworth’s growing respect and concern for Anne, it seems doubly so.
4.) Next time, wear green. Keeping the crew out of the shots can be challenging. In this scene, the boom operator’s bright reddish clothing makes this goof easy to spot, in spite of his hiding behind a tree.
3.) The mystical and convenient appearance of a horse. The arrival of Anne, Harriet, and Wentworth at Uppercross unfolds quickly. A quick consultation between Anne and Wentworth to make a plan, some pounding on the front door, some brief hysterics from Mrs. Musgrove, and Harriet is taken inside. Wentworth immediately walks back toward Anne, who is still standing near the gate. He tells her he’s going back to Lyme immediately. They speak briefly before Wentworth jumps on a black horse and he’s away. This scene plays out as a seamless string of events that covers 2 minutes and 10 seconds of screen time. Even if the first thing Wentworth said to Mr. Musgrove was “I need a fresh horse,” there is no way that a horse from the stables would have been at hand so quickly.
2.) Did Anne Elliot have access to a time turner? As the group from Uppercross meets for breakfast the morning after they’ve arrived in Lyme, Wentworth and the Innkeeper discuss a Mr. Elliot who is getting into a carriage. You can see Anne just about to sit down at the table in the background. The next moment, Anne enters the room as if for the first time.
1.) An improper postman. Here we go, breaking with propriety again. Letters between an unmarried lady and a man who was not a relation, close family friend, or her betrothed were strictly taboo in this time. The rule was so entrenched in society that to ask a third party to deliver such a letter would bring shame on that person as well. It was simply not something that respectable persons did. In the novel, Wentworth puts the letter where Anne will see it and walks away with a beseeching look in his eye. He would never have enlisted Harville to deliver a letter to Anne.
And that’s it, folks. Have you noticed any of these goofs? Are there others you can add to the list? Oh, and feel free to voice an opinion on the scene where Anne runs along the streets of Bath. We love to read your comments!