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This has just become available on DVD for a very modest price in the UK and
I would highly recommend it to all those who love "Family Sagas". There is a
sequel "Hold the Dream" but it is useless to watch this if you haven't first
watched "A Woman of Substance". The whole show, almost ten hours viewing in
all will keep you glued to your armchair, and as there are some sad moments
along the way, it's better to have your supply of kleenex beside you before
starting to view !
The main actors in the series are magnificent, I have always adored Deborah Kerr, notably in "An Affair to Remember", and "The Innocents" and here she plays out the very believable rôle of the Old Lady. Her diction and facial expressions are magnificent, and here performance here just adds more confirmation to the fact that she is a great actress.
Jenny Seagrove, strangely beautiful, acts out the young Emma Harte with great conviction and Liam Neeson, very handsome, puts in a magnificent performance as Blackie. Despite the story being very long, the fact that there are so many twists and turns, and the fact that is is filmed mostly in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside, one doesn't get bored for an instant.........
Naturally, a story of this length is bound to have some inconsistencies for example, Jenny Seagrove's accent seems to vary from Yorkshire to Posh Southern England and back on several occasions ! We see heavy rain falling from a bright blue sky ! Because the film spans so many years, some people grow up too quickly and towards the end, it gets a little confusing. But there is no point in dwelling inordinately upon these defects. The general impression is one of great satisfaction.
I can only hope this film will be available in all countries with corresponding language tracks and subtitles so that all will be able to appreciate it. It is said to be a "woman's film" as it shows a woman's struggle from "rags to riches" but I, as a man, certainly enjoyed it !!!
"Woman of Substance" began as a hugely successful novel by Barbara
Taylor Bradford and"successful" does not simply refer to its
popularity. Bradford writes knowingly and convincingly about England's
most difficult historical period: the 20th Century. Beginning in the
then present of 1974,Bradford tells the story of Emma Harte, who begins
life as a maid in the household of a local Yorkshire Squire in
Edwardian times and end her life the mistress of a commercial empire
worthy of Rockefeller. Not only do we see her triumphs, we see her
errors and her failures etched in fine detail. Emma Harte is both noble
and vengeful, bitter and loving; she is, in fact, one of the most
complex characters of modern popular literature. One can dismiss
Bradford's novel as "romance fiction" but it is not: Bradford presents
a woman as complex as the Yorkshire she comes from.
The miniseries based on the novel captures it perfectly. Not only is Jenny Seagrove an outstanding Young Emma Harte, we see Deborah Kerr as the older Emma and a young Liam Neeson in a brilliant comic and dramatic performance as Emma's friend, Blackie. The movie shows us glimpses of such disparate history as the lives of British Jews and the development of the ready to wear industry, with outstanding performances by the supporting cast, including Diane Baker and John Mills. For any fan of sagas such as The Thornbirds or Rich Man, Poor Man, A Woman of Substance is a must see.
The story follows the life of Emma Harte and her rise from a servant girl to the owner of a large empire of her own creation. The movie begins in the 1980's, but the bulk is Emma's recollection of her life from the age of 14 on (1900's-1940's.) Jenny Seagrove does a magnificent job portraying young Emma, and a young Liam Neeson plays the part of 'Blackie' wonderfully. This mini series matches the likes of 'The Thornbirds' and 'Pride and Prejudice' in it's acting and beautiful scenery, not to mention the story itself. Emma is a young woman of independence during a time when such a thing was a rarity. Definitely worth the 6 hours it will take you to watch it!
As "chick" movies go, this is tops. The performances are very touching, giving life to many of the characters. Jenny Seagrove absolutely shines as Emma; with all the foolish mistakes she makes, you still root for her. Peter Chelsom gives a completely heartbreaking performance as the sheltered and confused Edwin. Liam Neeson, Gayle Honneycutt are convincing; and some of the voice dubbing (particularly the children seem to have "adult" voices) sounds very uneven. The costumes and settings are fabulous. After all, this is a made for TV mini-series, so given that limitation, this is quite outstanding! Blame the book for the anti-clamatic ending, not the film makers or actors. Watch the movie, then read the book to fill in the blanks. You'll agree, the movie is a really on-target adaptation for the most part.
Even the most hard-hearted will find it difficult to resist the spell of
this stylish mini-series. The audience is put through the emotional
as spirited heroine Emma Harte endures every setback and hardship going,
still wins through.
Part of the fascination of the series lies in the quite remarkable cast. Jenny Seagrove splendid as the indefatigable Emma ; a young Liam Neeson and Miranda Richardson ; dear old Barry Morse ; Deborah Kerr as the older Emma ; Christopher Guard as the blackguardly villain, who gets his comeuppance in one of the most satisfying scenes ; and Peter Chelsom, who went on to direct the hit British film "Hear My Song", as well as the less successful "Funny Bones".
This just has to be the best television mini-series ever produced. Based on the international best seller of the same name, with excellent actors against a backdrop of magnificent locations. Anyone who has read the book will only be more enchanted after they see the film. First, Jenny Seagrove has be one of the best actresses. Sadly I don't see her on much in the U.S. She plays the character of the young and ever determined Emma Harte brilliantly. The way she delivers the ice cold lines of revenge. She makes Joan Collin's Alexis look like a Sunday school teacher. This film also stars a young actor by the name of Liam Neeson as Blackie. When you see his performance in this film, you will know why he is a star today. And we must not forget that this is one of the last performances of Deborah Kerr. I believe her actual last performance was in the sequel to this film Hold The Dream. A Woman of Substance..always the Best!
Engrossing saga of a determined woman's climb to the pinnacle of success. Usually having two actresses share a lead minimizes the impact of that role but the excellent match up of Jenny Seagrove and the great Deborah Kerr avoids that here since they share more than a passing resemblance. Both give strong performances again matching in temperament for a seemly whole. Another great thing about these older minis is getting to see actors who went on to acclaim just starting out or prior to their breakouts. Such is the case with Miranda Richardson, who went from this straight into Dance With a Stranger, and particularly Liam Neeson who is terrific as the stalwart Blackie. Even at six hours though it still seems like it scrimps on some of the more interesting aspects of her business success for conventional romantic complications. Overall though an interesting show. Also worth checking out are the special features, in particular the one with Diane Baker who was the producer of this as well as playing a role and offers good insights into what goes into getting something like this made. If you are a fan of the hers and remember her from her late fifties early sixties heyday its great to see her looking so wonderfully well and still so lively.
I regard this series as one of the best drama and romantic English tv-series ever to be done. It contains drama, fighting spirit, sadness, happiness and misfortune. So if you haven't seen this series, DO IT NOW. it's worth it.
A Woman of Substance is an entertaining, typically British mini series,
which tells the story of a young woman empowering herself through hard
work and hatred against a high class family that have always been
indifferent and bossy to her and her poor relatives. She rapidly grows
into a powerful business woman who ruins the hated family to the very
A biography must always find a fine line: how 'old' can the actors grow and when to substitute characters with new players? They've done a marvelous job with 'Blackie' Neeson; he really looks like an old man at the end of the series, although his mannerisms completely oppose his former, playful self. And it must be added: gluing a beard and silvering his hair makes the job a lot easier.
Miss Seagrove didn't make it into old age, she got replaced by (a first-rate) Deborah Kerr. In the main story Emmy ages some 40 years, but in her fifties she still looks like the teenage lass from the beginning of the story. Here, old-fashioned haircuts and clothes don't help; Seagrove just has too youthful a face The acting is of a reasonable level. Seagrove does a fine job, with the exception of some cheesy moments and the instances where she talks to her young children - as if she doesn't know how to talk to kids. Although this could also have been the director's fault. All in all, Seagrove is believable in her role, and she has one of the sweetest smiles I've ever seen...
The other dozen or so actors are okay but forgettable, except for two of them: Blackie, the happy-go-lucky everybody's friend and Gerald Fairley, Mr. Evil Impersonated; overacting has never been so effective!
I enjoyed this series from beginning to end. Jenny Seagrove was fantastic as the young Emma Harte. Deborah Kerr was magnificent as the older Emma Harte. It was wonderful seeing her again. Liam Neeson was great as Blackie. This is the story of the fictional Emma Harte, a Yorkshire girl who works her way up from lowly domestic servant to the head of her own mega empire. She outsmarts and outdeals some of the biggest tycoons in the world. She finds love and loses love, but never loses her Yorkshire country values. Unfortunately, she's the mother of a bunch of money hungry, backstabbing children who plot against her. Have no fear, she knows how to outsmart them. I won't reveal the ending. You've got to see it for yourself. It was awesome! The only part of this series that I didn't like was Barry Bostwick's portrayal of Emma's Australian boyfriend, Paul McGill. His accent was virtually non-existant. He should've played a Canadian. He was also a bit whimpy for the part. The role needed someone with more presence and strength. His performance was mediocre at best. I highly recommend this series and it's sequel, Hold The Dream. Rent them. You won't regret it.
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