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Which Version is Better? Persuasion Film Comparison

Persuasion 2007. Photo: ITV
Persuasion 2007. Photo: ITV

Persuasion may be one of Jane Austen’s lesser talked about books, but it is one of the strongest stories she wrote. The enduring love of Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth could move the heart of anyone. There have been various film adaptations over the years, however, for this article, I’ve chosen only the 1995 version and the 2007 one to compare. Each one does fair justice to the source material and each one offers a deep level of emotion and great storytelling. It’s really hard to choose a version that is better than the other, so in the end it comes down to personal preference.

MV5BMTc5NzAwNDAyN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMjYzMDc5._V1_SY317_CR2,0,214,317_AL_1995 Persuasion

Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds star as the long-suffering couple in this adaptation and play their parts well.  The film has an almost timeless pace that matches the love of the main couple, playing out point for point from the source material. In fact, I feel like there is a golden age of Hollywood aura about this version, or maybe it’s just the aura that surrounded all BBC period dramas during the 1990s.

Root’s portrayal of Anne is filled with quiet suffering and maturity with a serene presence. We don’t see too many outward displays of emotion from Anne; they mostly happen at intense times, like seeing Wentworth again after many years. Hinds’ Wentworth, on the other hand, is a solid man. He doesn’t display too much emotion, either. I think their romance, along with with acting, had a mature feel to it. After all, they are no longer a young couple by that time period’s standards. They’ve both grown up and have moved past their youthful follies.

That said, I felt like the other cast of characters were not as memorable as the two protagonists and I couldn’t get into the background drama. Though I did like the ending that shows Anne and Wentworth on the seas. Overall, I see this adaptation as a classic.

2007 Persuasion

persuasion posterThis adaptation stars Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones as the main couple. There is also a delightful cast of other important characters in the story. I loved Anthony Stewart Head as Walter Elliot, for instance. And let’s not forget about the awesome Tobias Menzies as Mr. Elliot. In all, I felt this version of the film was more dynamic. This could be that I felt emotions were more clearly expressed here. There was the suffering silence between Anne and Wentworth while their faces said everything.

This version of Anne was also less serene. Each time something happened to her, she showed emotion about it. For instance, the scene with her crying over her diary when she thought Wentworth was going to be engaged. Also, Penry-Jones’ Wentworth was a force of nature. You could see he was at war with himself over his feelings towards Anne. I felt like their romance in this film was a bit more passionate. You could see that they still loved each other. There was just the shadow of the past and meddling people in the way.

The pacing in this film was a bit faster than the ’95 adaptation and the ending a bit different from the book. Though I’ve always felt more interested in this version, especially with all the action going on outside of Anne and Wentworth. Her sister’s dramatics and Mr. Elliot’s scheming helped make a great movie.

The Verdict

This really is a hard choice. Both versions are excellent. However, I have to go with the 2007 version. I get more emotionally invested in it. Overall, I liked the portrayals of the characters and the quicker pace.

Please share your favorite version.

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By on August 14th, 2015

About Mandi Harris

Mandi Harris is a freelance writer and blogger. If she isn't writing, she has her nose in a book. Books are her ultimate addiction. Her other weaknesses include period dramas, chocolate, and her pets. She is working on her own novels now and hopes to one day get published. You can read her book blog over at thepennedpiper.com.

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29 thoughts on “Which Version is Better? Persuasion Film Comparison”

  1. Hands down, the 2007 version is my favorite. 🙂 I enjoy the cast a lot better and minus one scene near the end, it’s a better production, overall.

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    • I love Ciaran Hinds as Captain Wenthworth’s portrayal but the movie didn’t really get to me as Anne was looking a little too old for him. Anne’s just not as I imagined here to be in the 1995 version.

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  2. Eh, Anne staring at the camera all the time took me out of the drama and really just creeped me out. And honestly, book Anne was not flighty or as emotional as Hawkins’ version. Anne doesn’t wallow in grief. She makes the best of every situation and bears her disappointments with all the grace she can muster. The 90’s version plays this much better. And like you said, Anne and Wentworth are more mature than the rest of Austen’s couples. The 2007 version is too melodramatic and tries to sweep you up in a way that the novel really doesn’t want you to. The book is just as much about the characters learning and growing as it is about their love affair. This is why I think the 2007 version is the more superficial and the 90’s version more true to the book.

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  3. I do like the 2007 version for the reasons you stated…except for the ending. It felt kind of rushed (she’s literally running through the streets, after all) and then a scene afterwards which I feel they should have re-filmed. I really cringe when I watch it and therefore can’t really watch that scene. Otherwise, I’d really love this movie.

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  4. Persuasion is one of my favourites from Jane Austen.. I really liked how you point out that the 2007 Anne is more open about her emotions. I haven’t seen the 95 version, but after your review will definitely check it out. BBC adaptations always add such a lot of character to the tale that I end up enjoying them a lot.

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  5. My favorite version is, without a doubt, 2007. For all the reasons stated above and although it differs from the book (my favorite Mansfield Park version does the same), I prefer an Anne that finally takes her destiny in her hands & runs for it (lol). I do wish they ended the movie with both of them at sea and I do like the ’95 version, after all it has C.Hinds on it!

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  6. Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel and I love both of there adaptations. it’s not so much about which is my favorite as it is what kind of mood I in which decides which version I watch. Even so, I think I may lean ever so slightly toward the 1995 adaptation. Ciaran Hinds “looks” like a sailor that been at sea for 8 years, he wears his naval uniform throughout most of the movie which adds to the “formalness” of his speech and movement to me. A stoic Captain Wentworth must have deep emotions. 😉 He’s so tall and crisp throughout and when he reaches out and takes Anne’s tiny hand with his white gloves on and kisses her, it always takes my breath away. During the letter reading I love how they dissolve between Anne & Wentworth’s voice, Amanda Root is like a tiny little work horse in this version of Anne. She puts her head down and pushes through all of her family’s giant egos while constantly being the only one capable of cleaning up after them.
    I love the 2007 version as well and Rupert Penry Jones does a great Wentworth, less restrained like you say, but I think that’s actually what I like about the 1995 version. I love the letter scene is this one as well, Your heart pounds along with Anne’s as she runs through the streets of Bath trying to find Captain Wentworth. Sally Hawkins pulls that scene off really well. They both work well as the more emotional Anne and Wentworth. I like to see them on the ship at the end too. I never understood about them being at Kellynch Hall at the end of the 2007 version. Did he buy it? Where did the Crofts go? I wish that more of that was answered for people who have not read the novel.

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    • I had the same question at the end: Sir Walter can’t sell Kellynch Hall away from William Elliot….he’s the heir to the property and lands. So how did Wentworth buy it?

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  7. No to 2007! It was not true too Jane’s essence of Anne. The 2007 misses the point by being to dramatic and emotional…It is the same issue with 2005 Pride and Prejudice.

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  8. To me, there is no competition here: the older version is much more true to the story and characters. The newer version is the ‘short attention span’ version–it flies through the story, leaving out so much, and compressing the action of several scenes into one, over and over again.

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    • Very well said. I dislike all the ”short attention span” adaptations. The 1995 Persuasion hits every nail on the head while mastering the art of subtlety. Yet there is much humor in it, with my hat off to Sophie Thompson as Anne’s younger sister, Mary. Could it be seen as ironic, that Sophie appears in the best-ever Jane Austen film adaptation while HER sister, Emma, actually received an Oscar for writing the screenplay for undoubtedly the worst movie adapted from a Jane Austen novel? I have never seen Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman so tragically miscast! (For a wonderful film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility, check out the 1981 six-part BBC miniseries.)

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  9. I’m also going with the 2007 version, although several scenes in the earlier version made me giggle- the different pieces of conversations at the Musgrove’s house- ending in Charles sitting down beside Anne with an, “Oh, Anne…”- hilarious! Oh, they are both delicious, but the latter version is so much more…desperate?

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  10. 2007 Persuasion is such a dazzling performance by Hawkins and Penry-Jones, I think they should be paired again on another 18th century story movie, “Sissi” trilogy would be a good one because they both have a youth face

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  11. I haven’t seen the 1995 version so I can’t compare. But oh my, I do love the 2007 version, very much. Lol, I was almost afraid to read this because the one review that I read on 2007, the critic didn’t like ( and I didn’t read any other reviews ) so I’m so glad that you like 2007. Captain Wentworth was sooo dreamy that I felt like 15 watching the movie ( haha, I’m so very far from being 15 ).

    I need to watch the 1995 and come back here!

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  12. The 95 version is hands down my favorite. The acting is superb and the ending is fabulous. One of the best Austen adaptations of all time.

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  13. Rupert Penry-Jones aside, the 1995 version is excellent and my favorite. Much closer to the book and kept so many great parts in the story. If you have not seen the 1970’s version, you should check it out…Very dated and the costuming is a little weird – esp. Anne’s clothing, plus the actress playing Anne was about 20 years too old, but it’s a great version as far as following the book. But, I love this story – my favorite Austen novel – and I will watch pretty much any version!

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  14. Counter: the 1971 version is the best. (It has also been a hot minute since I have seen it
    Perhaps the actress for Anne was a tad old — but she had the restrained patience with her relatives, the quiet desperation when she thinks Capt. Wentworth thinks ill of her and is in love with someone else,; has the full good sense and quiet faded beauty that makes sense to attract men such as Benwick and Elliott and then Wentworth again..
    Capt. Wentworth was restrained but charming as he should be — not taciturn, cold, or engaging in silly flirtations.
    In the 2007 version, I really took issue with Anne *running* out in the streets after Capt. Wentworth and their kissing in the street. It smacked of too much desperation on her side: she threw herself at him while he just stood there entirely cold and inflexible.
    In the 1995, Ciaran Hinds was too taciturn for my tastes.

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  15. Having just recently watched both versions back to back for the umpteenth time, I think it’s hands down for the earlier, longer, 1995 version. Jane Austen’s novels ARE the subtle details all put together leisurely descriptions. Big, direct, sweeping, emotional, endings are more for our era – and the Bronte sisters! Anne taking Capt. Wentworth’s arm at the end of 1995 version is so much more Austen than Anne running for a mile (I checked on Google Maps!) to arrive all flushed and out of breath to accept a proposal in the middle of the street.

    The other big complaint I have about the later version is how Anne is portrayed. This is nothing against Sally Hawkins, who is a fine actress, but Anne here is given unattractive clothes to wear, several stations down from her class. More, she is physically portrayed as being far less attractive than her friends and family. I don’t recall any such distinction being made in the book. Just because she’s sensible and intellegent doesn’t mean she has to to be dowdy.

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    • Oh, I so do agree with your comment. I love the 2007 version due to the casting but cannot understand why they portrayed Anne as a dowdy and unatractive spinster. I wish they also stayed true to the book towards the end. That would have made it perfect.

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  16. I rewatch the 1995 version at least a few times a year and man, Ciaran Hinds was a stone cold fox when he was young. Amanda Root as Anne breaks my heart a little every time with those expressive eyes and minute movements of her face where she endures the cruel words or thoughtlessness of her family and when she sees Capt Wentworth and believes he still resents her. Mind you, the 2007 version has its own charms (cough cough, Rupert Penry Jones) is very good looking, but a bit young and not weathered enough in the way I pictured Captain Wentworth. I always mentally put Col. Brandon from Sense and Sensibility and Capt. Wentworth in the same age range so Ciaran Hinds is more my style. So 1995 ftw.

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  17. 1995 by a mile. The guy playing Charles Musgrave is great — funny, cheerful and exactly true to the book! And Mary is so funny.

    I don’t think movies should be mainly judged on whether they follow the book — some great movies play fast and loose with their source material — but I agree with comments about the tone of the 2007 version. Austen is all about the feelings inside fighting against propriety and constraints. If you let Anne run madly through the streets, you undermine the whole story, because it’s built on not being ‘allowed’ to do things like that. Same with the emoting. It’s like the 2007 version feels the need to explain ‘Anne is feeling sad now’, when the whole point is her stoicism. She had resigned herself to having missed her chance, and had largely succeeded until Wentworth’s return. So her muted performance — with everything in those marvellous eyes — is pitch-perfect.

    Hinds is OK. I agree he looks a little old, but then Sir Walter’s comments about how the sea ruins a man’s looks, and the fact that 8 years at sea might well make a man of 31 look closer to 40, renders that largely immaterial. I don’t find him as compelling a presence as Root, but he’s good enough to make you think she might really fall for him all over again, which is enough for the mechanics of the film to work out.

    The ending on the boat (it’s the Victory) also works in with stuff from the book itself; the stuff about the Admiral and Mrs Croft and how he hated to be apart from her and took her with him when he could. The Crofts’ is is the happiest marriage in Austen (most marriages portrayed by Austen are not so happy, despite marriage being the key event at the end of each book), and the movie is kind of saying that the Wentworths will be as happy as the Crofts, which is a happy ending indeed.

    So 1995, by a mile.

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    • Hi, Jim! Thanks for your thoughts. I agree that the 1995 version is superior. Though I just LOVE Rupert Penry-Jones as Wentworth. I appreciate both for different reasons. And I agree with you about adaptations. One can’t simply judge a production by how close it follows a book. Film and books are such different mediums that tell stories in different ways. Ideally, I think a good adaptation captures the spirit of the novel and finds ways to show the story rather than simply tell it.

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  18. Well, nothing like weighing in on a conversation 5 1/2 years after it gets started, but I just finished watching the 1995 and 2007 versions and am having a serious romance hang-over. The 2007 version is my favorite because of the race through the streets and then *that* kiss. Wowza. The music and sound (editing? I know little of movie production) lifted the scene too. Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones were ideally cast. My only quibble with the movie’s ending. I couldn’t figure out how Wentworth could present Kellynch to Anne as a wedding gift. That scene didn’t resolve the story, but instead opened up a number of questions.

    Although enjoyable, the 1995 version didn’t touch me in the same way. I did love the scene where the Uppercross crew is complaining to Anne about each other. I thought Amanda Root’s subtle expressions were pitch perfect. I just didn’t feel the same level of screen chemistry with Hinds and Root, as I did with Hawkins and Jones.

    So, 2007 for me!

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    • It’s never too late to debate Jane Austen adaptations. 🙂 I personally love both equally for different reasons. But, I agree with you. Rupert Penry-Jones and Sally Hawkins have amazing chemistry. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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  19. I LOVED the Amanda Root version and have seen it many times but I watched the ITV production and hated it, despite loving both the main actors…

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  20. I am a huge fan of the 1995 version and finally watched the 2007 production, assuming my bias would find it inferior.

    It did and it was. It felt to me like film was trying to be Pride and Prejudice. There was WAY too much energy and emoting from the main characters. Anne charging down the streets of Bath??? I don’t think so. As others have pointed out, the rushed ending was unfortunate. In general the entire film was too speedy. I don’t know how people who haven’t read the book figured out what was going on.
    The acting was ok but without the nuance and repression of the book and the earlier film. In the 1997 version Sir Walter Elliot was portrayed as foppish and clueless, an easy mark for a gold digger. IN 2007 he is angry and sneering, almost like he’s on the verge of murdering someone.

    Reply

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