Sybylla Melvyn is an independent young woman who soon after arriving to live with her Grandmother Bossier and aunt Helen announces that she will never marry and plans on having a career ... See full summary »
Dissolute barrister Sydney Carton becomes enchanted and then hopelessly in love with the beautiful Lucie Manette. But Lucie loves and marries Charles Darnay, and remains oblivious to Carton's undimmed devotion to her. When Darnay is ensnared in the deadly web of the French Revolution and condemned to die by the guillotine, Sydney Carton concocts a dangerous plot to free the husband of the woman he loves. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
A Tale of Two Cities is a wonderful book, ranking Dickens' works it's to me towards the top. It is wordy with a very complicated story, but it is also very compelling and the characters especially Sydney Carton and Madame Dufarge are memorable. This 1980 version is not the best(the 1935 film) or worst(the animated Burbank Films Australia version) of the book, but adaptation-wise and on its own it's very decent. It is hampered by Chris Sarandon's stiff and emotionally cold Charles Darnay, a rather cheap, under-populated and lacking-in-suspense-and-urgency storming of Bastille scene and the on-the-saccharine-side romantic theme in the music score. The adaptation could also have done a better job at differentiating between Charles and Sydney, visually especially with the hair they are never quite distinctive enough. But the production values are generally quite decent, it does at least make an effort to be true to Dickens and the historical period it's based in and they have good colour and atmosphere if lacking somewhat in refinement. The music serves the adaptation well, while the script is intelligently adapted and does nobly with conveying Sydney's sardonic humour, the heartfelt tragedy at the end and the dark, foreboding humanity. The story is faithful in spirit to the book, though there are things inevitably missed out, and doesn't feel too confused. It's solidly paced too. With individual scenes the standout has to be the ending which is extraordinarily moving, though the final forty minutes generally is very suspenseful. The acting is fine on the whole. While Sarandon disappoints(to me at least) as Charles he is outstanding as Sydney- that Sydney is a far more interesting character helps-, he is humorous and sardonic while also poignant and dignified. Alice Krige is an emotive and beautiful Lucie, Flora Robson's Miss Pross is regal and loyal and Barry Morse is rightfully hissable as Evremonde. Billie Whitelaw is fine as a very snake-like Madame DuFarge, David Suchet characterises the conflicted character of Basard brilliantly and beautifully, Peter Cushing is perfect as Dr Manette and Kenneth More is more than competent too. George Innes does a very good job too as Cruncher, very sly and funny, but the character could have been more prominent. In conclusion, decent version, worth watching but for the best adaptation look to the 1935 film. 7/10 Bethany Cox
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?