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Screenwriter Martin Amis!

Persuasion has recently been filmed, and so has Sense and Sensibility, and there are three versions of Emma in the works (not to mention Clueless), and no doubt someone will soon knock off the amiably mock-Gothic Northanger Abbey, and someone else will find the nerve to tackle the problematic austenities of Mansfield Park, and that will be that.
Martin Amis, 1996

Martin Amis, Publicity Photo, 1995 This is not intended to be a complete biography of Martin Amis, but rather a look at how he relates to Jane Austen. For a full history, check out Martin Amis Web, his offcial website.

Martin Amis, son of novelist Kingsley Amis (Lucky Jim), was first brought to Miramax (or rather, the now defunct Talk magazine) three years ago by friend and former collegue, Tina Brown. In addition to writing articles for the magazine, part of Mr. Amis' $1m (680,000) deal stipulated that he would publish three of his books with Talk Miramax, and write screenplays for the company.

Northanger Abbey will be his first screenplay for Miramax, though not his first screen writing experiance. "In 1980 [Amis] wrote the screenplay for Saturn 3, a science-fiction film which received poor reviews and featured the unlikely pairing of Farrah Fawcett and Harvey Keitel. He also helped with the script for Tim Burton's film Mars Attacks, but later said that although he had "highly enjoyed it, it did not contain a word I wrote".

What, you ask, happend to the script already written by veteran Austen adapater, Andrew Davies? Ahhhhh. What might have been. That script was shelved after Mr. Davies disagreed with producer Harvey Weinstien over his desire to turn Northanger Abbey into a "Clueless" style chick-flick.

"I think Harvey wanted to drag it in the direction of a teen flick," said Mr Davies. "The book does have the youngest of all Jane Austen's heroines, and with the Gothic horror element of the book I guess there was a temptation to think of teen movies like Scream and meld it all together. But I felt uncomfortable about moving too far away from the original book."

Does this mean all hope is lost? Not necessarily. Mr. Amis is known to be not only an admirer of Austen, but also etremely particular about accuracy, both in language and in adaptations. This was proved in his 1996 review of Pride and Prejudice for the New Yorker.

Amis claims to be half-way through the script already, and hopes to have it completed by mid July, 2002. We can only wait and hope. "I am greatly enjoying it," he is quoted as saying. "Jane Austen is a genius, and Northanger Abbey is hugely underrated."

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