We adaptation-loving Janeites have grown used to disappointment. Remember the feature film of Sanditon, starring Charlotte Rampling as Lady Denham? Or that dark and edgy TV version of Pride and Prejudice? Neither do I – because both projects seem to have disappeared without a trace, years after they were initially floated.
But the Netflix adaptation of Persuasion, with Dakota Johnson as Anne Elliot – that one really seems to be happening, judging from the location-shooting pictures that began popping up online in recent days. Here they are, closing down the Royal Crescent in Bath! There they go, filming conversations atop the Cobb in Lyme Regis! Check out the period costumes!* Note the non-traditional casting!
Indeed, in keeping with the Bridgerton-inspired trend, this looks to be the first period adaptation of a completed Austen novel to cast Black actors in important roles – judging from the photos, as Lady Russell and at least one of Wentworth’s sailor friends (is that Captain Benwick there on the Cobb with Anne?)
It’s going to be fascinating to see how the production uses race: Will it be mentioned by the characters – as it was, briefly, in Bridgerton – or entirely ignored, as it often is in, say, productions of Shakespeare? At least this time we should get some answers, instead of disappointing silence.
* Since, as I noted last month, this is indeed a period adaptation.