Mansfield Park

  • Review Date: May 5, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Romance
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 112 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Wonderful book adaptation with strong female protagonist.
  • Review Date: May 5, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Romance
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 112 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

For early 19th-century Britain, the views of many of the characters on women's independence and the slave trade are remarkably progressive. The importance of being true to yourself and not compromising your values for the sake of wealth or safety is shown throughout, through discussion and example.

Positive role models

Fanny Price is imaginative, hardworking, and true to her values, a woman who uses her mind to better her position. Although she is well aware of her position in a stratified society such as early 19th-century Britain, she is nonetheless unafraid to speak her mind when the situation warrants it.

Violence

Fanny finds a sketchbook in which slaves are depicted being whipped, flogged, lynched, and raped. 

Sex

A couple is caught having sex, with bare breasts partially visible. While rehearsing for a somewhat racy play, a woman asks the men around her, "Which one of you shall I make love to?" Some kissing, mild flirtation. The breasts of women in a sketch are exposed.

Language

African slaves on a ship bound for Antigua are referred to as "darkies." Mild profanity on occasion: "bastard," "damn," "goddamn."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Fanny's aunt is addicted to liquid opium, which causes her to nod in and out of conversations. Many scenes depict characters drinking and smoking socially; one character returns home on horseback stumbling drunk and slurring his speech.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there are mature conversations having to do courtship (including same-sex) and marriage in this period romance. Some messages regarding slave life and its myths could be offensive to viewers (for example, "Mulattoes are like mules; they cannot breed with each other"). However, the heroes in this movie assert that slavery of any kind is wrong and should be abolished. Some drinking, and one character is addicted to opium. A couple is caught having sex, showing skin on skin, with bare breasts partially visible. African slaves on a ship bound for Antigua are referred to as "darkies." Mild profanity on occasion such as "bastard." Fanny finds a sketchbook in which slaves are depicted being whipped, flogged, lynched, and raped. The slave women in the notebook are topless.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Fanny Price (Frances O'Connor) is from a large and very poor family. When she's a young girl, she's invited to stay with rich relatives as something between a servant and companion. She is befriended by her cousin Edmund but ignored by his dissolute older brother Tom and his selfish sisters, neglected by their parents, and bullied by her aunt, also a poor relative under their care. She grows up reading everything she can and doing her best to get along with everyone. Henry Crawford and his sister Mary, both wealthy and attractive, come to stay nearby. Omni-seductive, they are both weak-willed and manipulative. They charm everyone but Fanny, creating many crises of honor and reputation.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

This is not your mother's MANSFIELD PARK. Director Patricia Rozema has effectively removed the book's frail and mousy -- if resolutely honorable -- heroine and replaced her with some amalgam of Austen's feistier characters plus a dash of Austen herself. Then she throws in a bit of Jo March, Susan B. Anthony, and even Scarlet O'Hara for good measure. The movie version's heroine is far more cinematic than the Fanny Price of the book, and the adaptation works remarkably well. Less successful is the attempt to import 20th-century sensibility on issues such as slavery (Fanny's wealthy relatives own slaves in the West Indies) and some wild anachronisms (Fanny lies casually on her bed while she talks to her male cousin; neighbor Mary Crawford even more casually smokes a small cigar).

The movie is sumptuously produced. Australian actress Frances O'Connor is terrific as Fanny. To use one of Austen's favorite words, she is "lively," but she also is able to show us Fanny's unshakable honor and dignity. Playwright Harold Pinter is outstanding as Lord Bertram. One of the great moral crises of the book is whether the young people should put on a play (Answer: They should not because it would create too great an intimacy). But Austen never shied away from having characters make ineradicable moral and social mistakes, and most of her books feature at least one couple who runs off together without getting married and suffers some serious consequences. Perhaps in frustration over the difficulty of making those actions seem real to today's audiences, or perhaps simply as a way of making a classic work seem unstuffy, this movie has more implicit and explicit sexuality than we have seen in other movies based on Austen's books (except maybe Clueless).

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about some of the issues raised by the movie, including the family's dependence on slaves in the West Indies to maintain their luxurious lifestyle. What do you know about this time period? How do you imagine you would have felt about slavery had you lived then?

  • Talk about the limited options available to women that led Fanny's cousin Maria to insist on marrying a foolish -- but wealthy -- man. How have gender roles changed since this time period? What is our modern perspective on Fanny and Maria? How is it different from how many would have viewed them in their own time?

  • Are period films appealing? What techniques do filmmakers use to transport us back in time? Are some techniques more effective than others?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 24, 1999
DVD release date:July 11, 2000
Cast:Frances O'Connor, Jonny Lee Miller, Sophia Myles
Director:Patricia Rozema
Studio:Miramax
Genre:Romance
Topics:Book characters
Run time:112 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:drug use, sexual references, and brief violence

This review of Mansfield Park was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 11, 14, and 16 year old Written bycmdfamily January 19, 2014
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

Commonsensemedia Dropped the Ball

I rely heavily on this website to determine whether or not a show is appropriate for my kids and teens to watch. I am shocked to find the inaccuracy of this review! It describes a scene where a couple is 'walked in on' while they are in bed together. It says that it shows skin on skin, but no specific body parts are shown. Absolutely false! The woman's breasts are in full view! And although the scene only lasts for a few seconds, you can see the man 'moving' on top of her. I don't watch R rated shows, so I immediately got off the movie to double check the rating...it's only PG-13 and I'm not sure how they can get away with a scene like that in a show that they deem appropriate for teens. From one careful parent to another...be warned!
What other families should know
Too much sex
Parent Written byPeriodMovieLover January 3, 2012
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

Very sensual scene and violence toward slaves that did not need to be there

Firstly the violence toward slaves was sickening. I know so many atrocities happened, it is painful to watch. And the intimate scene that is walked in on in this movie left little to the imagination. It was much more than I would want my 13 year old to see. It was not a comfortable thing to have displayed on the screen for me or for my children. We love period movies at out house and are seeing more and more sensuality in these movies. One of the benefits to this genre has always been enjoyable stories with pretty clean depictions. Sadly this is not the case so much anymore. Sweet innocent kisses are one thing, but seeing what goes on behind closed doors is another. I have been criticized by other reviewers before for not appreciating the sensuality in movies and so be it. To each his or her own. But, I appreciate it so much when others review things and let me know what is in them.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byjoami September 24, 2014
AGE
2
QUALITY
 

True to Book, but Not for Kids

This is not a family film, if you want to see a family appropriate Mansfield Park i'd go with Masterpiece Theater. Aside from the sex scene the scene that was really disturbing for me was how graphic the sketches were of women being raped and forced to have oral sex. I'm usually not for censorship but when it comes to rape I think images of any kind is too much.
What other families should know
Too much sex

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential Apps Guide