I sometimes think there are too many period dramas, mostly British, in which immense sums of money are spent taking over streets and removing all the television aerials from them, just to prove that gorgeously-dressed men with stiff collars and moustaches are also prey to the finer emotions. This television series can't really be blamed for that, because it dates from 1978, when I think such adaptations were not so thick on the ground. All the same I can't help thinking of it as yet more of the same, and while the quality is very good, and it all looked very expensive, and I enjoyed watching the stiff collars and railway trains, I didn't notice any overarching theme or idea.
As I'm British, I just can't help comparing this with Brideshead Revisited (1982), which has to be the best television series ever. This is a monstrously unfair comparison, and it's not surprising that the acting in Buddenbrooks comes out badly when compared with that of Brideshead, given that Brideshead's cast included the likes of John Gielgud, Jeremy Irons and Laurence Olivier, all at the top of their form. But it just goes to show how impossibly good a straight period drama has got to be these days to stand out from all the others.
Nevertheless Buddenbrooks is certainly pretty good as period dramas go. Certainly it would save a heap of money, and be a good idea generally, if the next time a British television station planned yet another Jane Austen adaptation, they scrapped it and broadcast a subtitled version of Buddenbrooks instead.
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