To me, this is the only truly great version of 'Tom Brown's School Days'
'Tom Brown's School Days', one of the best depictions of schoolboy life in literature, have varied in quality adaptations-wise. The 1940 and 1951 films are solid and the 2005 version is decent but inconsistent.
However, the 1971 series is by far the best version, being the one to convey the meaning and richness of the original story the most effectively, the most layered and is the most faithful to the book. For this reviewer, it is the only adaptation that's truly great.
Visually, 'Tom Brown's School Days' (1971) is very handsomely mounted but also has a darkness and broodiness that was very well suited. It's beautifully photographed, and it didn't look too grainy to me, and the costumes and sets are evocative of the period and have a sumptuous elegance and austere darkness.
It's very thoughtfully scripted and sympathetically directed. The storytelling here actually takes its time without feeling stretched or too long, also not feeling too short or rushed which allows the layered spirit and meaning of the original book to come out properly.
The characters are interesting and have a compelling realism. The acting is superb, especially from Iain Cuthbertson as strict but sincere Dr. Arnold and Richard Morant as a contender for the vilest bully character to grace television in Flashman. Anthony Murphy is an appealing and never bland Tom, the character's loneliness, fear and courage very believable. This adaptation also has the best developed and played East in Simon-Fisher Turner.
Overall, the best version of 'Tom Brown's School Days' and the only truly great, often outstanding, version on its own terms. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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