|Index||4 reviews in total|
Wile me with a quiet winner! How lucky I consider myself to be in the
possession of a DVD player and the owner of a charter membership in
Netflix...otherwise I may not have ever had the chance to see this
mini series from Yorkshire Television in England. My only wish is that it
had been produced by the BBC so as to have had a little more money for
production....sets, lighting, costuming, etc. However, limited budget
it's a gem of a script and there is greatness in the performances of all
main characters. I was unfamiliar with the actors except Barbara
"Wives and Daughters" (1999)(mini) `Bertie and Elizabeth' (2002) who
Mrs. Gaskell and the narrator of the story. I actually think the other
actors being unknown boosted the believability of the characters they were
The series is at least partially based on the book `The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857)` by Elizabeth Gaskell. A book that I read and loved a few years ago when I went through my Elizabeth Gaskell stage of infatuation with British women authors.
The story is captivating and the mood of the mini series suits the subject and writers to perfection. The characters really come to life in this in depth look at the cloistered lives of the entire Brontë family. And what an extraordinary family to produce not one but three world class writers! This series tries to explain the mystery of so much talent erupting from a little village by such an unsuspecting set of women. It also sheds light on the tragedies that led to early deaths for all three girls and their brother. I would like to say it's a darn good bit of luck that the girls were not suited to teaching or motherhood or the world would be missing a few good classics of literature. And what a shame they didn't live long enough to grace us with more. I was sincerely appreciative of the opportunity to savor all five parts. A must for any Brontë devotee.
On watching this version of "The Brontes of Howarth" it was just how one would imagine the Brontes might have lived. This version was compelling and what better back-drop could you have than The Bronte Parsonage itself, it simply added to the authenticity of the story. The Bronte sisters' strong imaginations never failed to fascinate me considering the adversities they continually faced. This story never failed to portray the bleakness of their lives coupled with the simple joys they shared - locked in their own world. It was well casted in particular, Alfred Burke as (Patrick Bronte) and Michael Kitchen as (Bramwell). A must for any like-minded Bronte fanatic.
Having just put on a show to celebrate the centenary of Christopher Fry's birth, I was delighted to obtain the DVD of his 5-hour TV series shown on Yorkshire TV in 1975. In comparison with the verbal exuberance of his verse plays in the 1940s and '50s the adaptation (from Mrs Gaskell's life of Charlotte) is restrained to the point of under-statement. More enlightenment about how, despite the constraints of their strict upbringing, the sisters wrote their turbulent novels would have been welcome - today the ubiquitous Andrew Davies would perhaps somehow have turned their lives into a bonk-fest; but the series, modestly produced yet lovely to look at, with well-chosen exterior locations, gives a deal of quiet pleasure and satisfaction. The sisters suffer somewhat from having similar '70s hair-styles, but Vickery Turner as a gutsy Charlotte, Rosemary McHale as troubled Emily and Ann Penfold as the more placid Ann are more than adequate, Michael Kitchen as poor Branwell and Alfred Burke as the benign tyrant, their father are excellent and it's good to have Barbara Leigh-Hunt as Mrs Gaskell and a very young-looking Benjamin Whitrow as Charlotte's husband, Mr Nicholls.
I look at this film in two ways. First, by comparing it to the real life story of the Bronte family. As a member of the Bronte Society, I think I qualify as a Bronte family partisan. This British production is remarkable in every respect. It is television at its very best. It follows the story as well as it possibly can without over-dramatization or sentimentality. The acting, sets, costuming, photography, etc are all professional done. A slight drawback might be the musical accompaniment which is rather insignificant. Secondly, there is the comparison to the 1946 Hollywood version of the Bronte story, "Devotion". Don't think the pretty ladies, Olivia de Haviland, Ida Lupino, and Nancy Coleman, add an iota of class to this insipid, silly, ridiculous bit of fiction. It is a travesty on the Bronte name. If it is ever shown in television reruns, it should carry an apology and a warning that what you are about to see in no way is representative of one of the most remarkable literary families in our history.
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