The extended Forsyte family live a more than pleasant upper middle class life in Victorian and later Edwardian England. The two central characters are Soames Forsyte and his cousin Jolyon ... See full summary »
The series follows the lives of both the family and the servants in the London townhouse at 165 Eaton Place. Richard Bellamy, the head of the household, is a member of Parliament, and his ... See full summary »
Two young men meet at Oxford. Charles Ryder, though of no family or money, becomes friends with Sebastian Flyte when Sebastian throws up in his college room through an open window. He then ... See full summary »
The British Raj: though their position seems secure, thoughtful English men and women know that "their" time in India is coming to an end. The story begins with an unjust arrest for rape, ... See full summary »
James Onedin marries Anne Webster in order to get his hands on a ship. However the marriage turns out to be one of true love. James is ruthless in his attempt to get a shipping line started... See full summary »
Louisa Trotter works her way up from being a skivvy to being the Queen of cooks, cook to the King, and owner of the Bentinck Hotel. Her life and happenings among the guests and staff of the... See full summary »
Lillie Langtry, trapped in a loveless marriage, takes full advantage of her beauty, attracting many lovers and admirers including the Prince of Wales and Oscar Wilde. As her husband slowly ... See full summary »
Peggy Ann Wood
At the end of World War I, the Bannerman family re-opens the Grand Hotel after a lengthy closure and a costly re-furbishing. The hotel has been in the family for a long time and John ... See full summary »
In the 1840s, Cranford is ruled by the ladies. They adore good gossip; and romance and change is in the air, as the unwelcome grasp of the Industrial Revolution rapidly approaches their beloved rural market-town.
The extended Forsyte family live a more than pleasant upper middle class life in Victorian and later Edwardian England. The two central characters are Soames Forsyte and his cousin Jolyon Forsyte. Soames is a solicitor, all proper and straight-laced. His love for the beautiful Irene is his only weakness as is his beautiful daughter Fleur. Young Jolyon is the opposite, a free-thinking artist who abandons his wife to live with his children's nanny. Their lives and their children's lives will intersect over 30 years bringing happiness to some and tragedy to others. Written by
[the family are discussing the Boers]
They signed a contract, they must stick to it. I know there's something to be said for their point of view, but a contract is a contract.
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A Portrait of the Cost of Empire in Britain, c. 1886 On; An Artistic Triumph
The Forsyte Saga" was a vast undertaking for the British Film Industry when it was first created. It ran 26 weeks and virtually may be said to have launched the TV-miniseries genre, since "Masterpiece Theater" was brought into being to exhibit it. The series was based on the three sets of social novels by observer and trenchant author John Galsworthy. The saga is set before the turn of the 20th century; and, it must be remembered, it is about the British Empire, a corrupt political system whose leaders were every bit as incapable of good government as the empire of Rome's leaders were before them. The lives of those we see, the numerous Forsyte clan, are the products not of capitalism but of mixed-capitalism, government-connected de facto "tsars"-of-privilege-or-favor and those with whom they do business, exactly as is the U.S. empire of post 1994, for instance. The series focuses for the first 15 episodes upon the pentangle of actions undertaken by Soames Forsyte, the eponymous "Man of Property" of one of the author's novels. His wife is Irene Heron Forsyte, who falls in love with architect Philip Bosinney, builder of the couple's new home. Soames sets out to ruin the man when he finds out about the attachment; and when a distraught Bosinney is run over in a London street, Irene takes up with Jolyon, the black sheep of the Forsyte family who had made a mistress of the nanny he had employed. The fifth member of the pentangle is Fleur, flapper daughter of Soames and his next wife, who is madly in love with Jolyon and Irene's son, but marries instead for wealth. The proceedings in this long, very-well produced and rather well-acted epic have been nominated as 'melodrama'; they are nothing of the sort. This handsome production is a drama, a bit sluggish at times but always interesting since it is written about folk who very strongly either understand individualism or do not, understand justice or do not, understand equality of human beings or do not. The point of the entire proceeding is that the human virtues--true inward beauty, intelligence, incorruptible honesty, imagination and sympathy are NOT the possessions of any ruling class smug in its self-importance but lacking in anything except pride in its own narrow-mindedness, bigotries and piled-up possessions. The production designs by Spencer Chapman, Raymond Cuscik and Sally Hulke has a muted stylistic charm I find, but cannot compare in my opinion with that accorded the beautifully-mounted 1949 feature film "That Forsyte Woman". Lennox Phillips and Donald Wilson get the credit for the interesting adaptation of Galsworthy's huge novels and for dividing them into 26 intelligible episodes. James Cellan Jones and David Giles directed the long piece with what seems to most observers to be consistent intelligence. The sound recording, following the British practice of recording live voices, is sometimes uneven; and the production's other values such as lighting, costumes and art direction are seldom memorably good abut never less-than-adequate. The earlier half of the saga is more idea-level to me as a writer, but the later segments are period pieces in their own right. Among the actors, Eric Porter seems to be exactly the sort to play Soames, investing the hollow man with native charisma, canniness and a concentration that makes everyone else look good who acts with him. Nyree Dawn Porter as Irene is no Greer Garson but is attractive and quite adequate to playing a psychologically-normative person, Irene's outstanding quality. Fine actor Kenneth Moore is sympathetic as Jolyon, Susan Hampshire dynamic and vivid as Fleur. Other standouts include Joseph O'Conor as Old Jolyon, Margaret Tyzack as Winifred, Caroline Blakiston as Marjorie Ferrar and a number of others in less-lengthy roles among the older generation. Those who admire this huge project, and I am one of them, regard it is one very difficult to approach in artistic quality let alone to match. It is must watching in the history of film as the first great TV mini-series, as a social drama, and also as an artistic achievement of the first water.
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