The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (TV Mini-Series 1996– ) Poster

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10/10
Hope and experience; passion, vice, and virtue
Caledonia Twin #15 September 2000
What can be said of the compelling performance of Tara Fitzgerald? She is utterly believable as the injured Mrs Graham, hardened by experience, sharp and strong-willed, yet not immune to the passionate attentions of Mr Markham. Through every mischievous glance and every flare of temper, every flicker of discernment in his eyes and telling facial expression, Toby Stephens is a master of his character. He is the force of passion and hope that will restore Helen's injured spirit. Graves' Huntingdon is a perfect performance of the unreformable rogue. Yet despite all he has done, there is an undeniable human dignity in his refusal to play the hypocrite at the end; he is at least aware of his own failings and how they have brought his ruin. Helen's attempt to save his soul-- after leaving him and taking their child at a time when this was unheard of--is a triumph of hope, hope and faith in the worth of every human life and soul, however misguided, however sinful that person may be. Markham's constancy may then be seen as her reward for her faith and unyielding moral character. Though the opinionated ideas of morality so strongly presented in Tenant seem outdated by today's standards, the story is imbued with integrity, passion, and conviction which still make an impact. Tenant is far more believable than Wuthering Heights or even Jane Eyre; here is an adaptation that does the novel justice. I highly recommend viewing it!
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9/10
A Wonderful Romance.....
moonbeam-125 January 2002
I loved this mini series. Tara Fitzgerald did an incredible job portraying Helen Graham, a beautiful young woman hiding, along with her young son, from a mysterious past. As an anglophile who loves romances... this movie was just my cup of tea and I would recommend it to anyone looking to escape for a few hours into the England of the 1800's. I also must mention that Toby Stephens who portrays the very magnetic Gilbert Markham is reason enough to watch this wonderful production.
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8/10
Great romantic story with a hard-as-nails backbone
LouE1513 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I imagine Victorian literature slowly sinking into the mire of the increasingly distant past, pulled down by the weight of its under-skirts. Along comes television: at its best, it has a redemptive power, and with dramatisations like those the BBC produce so finely, Victorian literature gets a new stab at life. The religious themes, the moral overtones, may be increasingly ill at ease in a world no longer easily shocked, and acquainted with cohabitation, affairs and domestic violence. But those old, well-told stories have enduring power, and this is one's a hidden gem.

It's hard to gauge today just how forceful, feminist and extraordinary Ann Bronte's masterpiece, "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall", actually was. Emerging from the primeval slime of restrictive corsets – bodily, mental, societal – her heroine, Helen Huntingdon, escapes a miserable marriage, flees brutality and alcoholism, braves not only her abusive husband's fury, but society's pinched intolerance and malicious gossip, to wreak change in her life. She pays a price; but retains her self-respect; she falls in love along the way; she emerges battered but victorious, and strong. I just love watching women like these on screen.

The actors are superb – the best Brits have to offer. The love story is beautifully handled, with real passion and feeling by well-matched actors. Tara Fitzgerald inhabits every aspect of the complicated heroine, and as has been said here by other reviewers, no less sharply defined and beautiful a face could survive that petrifying hairstyle. Toby Stephens, striking sparks off her, contributes just the right combination of headstrong, handsome youth and passionate, yearning vulnerability. Rupert Graves (one of my favourite British actors ever) enjoys himself as the charismatic villain (so much so that you're almost with him at the end. No one's perfect). The supporting cast ably create a world into which you sink without feeling that coarse compromises have been made to modern tastes, and without having felt preached to. Another BBC classic, highly recommended: this is how romantic literature should be dramatised.
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10/10
Marvellous film ...
CustardcatPenny116 May 2005
Anne Brontes epic novel THE TENANT OF WILDFELL HALL should be studied and read throughout schools and libraries and peoples living rooms. Its a fantastic story and tells the "real" truth on alcoholism and ruined marriages and a mothers fight to keep her son away from her brutal husband. Its so alike todays stories that we see and hear and I believe people can learn a lot from reading this book. Based on possible true experiences that the author had back in the 1840s.

Do watch this film, its a great version of the book and very moving indeed. I'm sure Anne herself would have been happy with the way it was produced.

Excellent acting and great locations.
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Scenery is a star as well
jhsteel18 August 2003
I agree with the praise heaped upon this production and, as a Bronte lover and reader, I confirm that the film conveys the bleakness, hope and groundbreaking feminist spirit of the original novel. I want to add that the locations used for filming are lovely - as a life-long devotee of bleak northern landscapes I was thrilled by the scenery chosen, which matched the moods of the characters so well. England isn't just pretty villages and visitors from abroad should take a look at Cumbria and Yorkshire as well!
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9/10
Brilliant, if sexed-up
marspeach15 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The only complaint I have about this adaptation is that it is sexed-up. Things that were only hinted at in the novel are shown on-screen for some weird reason. Did they think the audience would be too stupid to understand if they were not shown everything out-right? Other than that, this is very good-quality. All the actors do marvelous jobs bringing their characters to life. For the shallow women out there, it's worth watching at least because Toby Stephens as Gilbert is the sexiest thing ever. If I were Helen I would have conveniently forgotten I was still married the minute I laid eyes on him...

Sort of a spoiler- The ending scene is a funny reversal of what happened in the book.
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7/10
Good enough if not amazing - until the botched finale
Ross23 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers.....

I saw the original on TV sometime ago and remembered this production as less gripping than most Beeb costume drama. I rewatched on DVD this week and still have the same impression of it. It's a good story at first, but weakens when the heroine becomes oh so terribly brave and noble and returns to her utterly vile husband when he's ill and I got so totally irritated with her saintliness. I suppose this was the "right thing to do" when the story was written as well as contributing plenty of angst, and it was difficult for a woman to be independent of her husband as marriage made her no more than his possession, let alone to carry on scandalously with a lover as I expect a lot of the modern audience would have liked to see. But it's hard to take the santimoniousness nowadays and especially when this heroine had a strong, brave admirer ready to defend her against anyone and everyone. So re the story as in the film I'm equivocal. It's well done as per the novel, but somewhat irritating as per today's kind of life.

Steadfast hero Gilbert was certainly a saint to put up with his ladylove's variable and often cryptic behaviour and persistent self-denial and to be so consistently supportive. So I felt it a great shame that when Helen was at long last free to be with him, the script didn't allow him a bit more than about one minute to fall on each other for a quick hug before the titles came up. This was completely ridiculous when we'd been waiting all this time through all that dripping sentiment over the undeserving husband for a decent bit of dialogue and a good embrace between hero and heroine. Instead, the ending was as though the film makers had run out of time or finance or just couldn't be bothered. "Here you are - one minute, do what you can in that, then cut as the director wants to go home now....." I was left feeling totally dissasatisfied.

However, very high commendations to the acting of Toby Stephens a perfect and very handsome hero, and Rupert Graves a superbly nasty and self-pitying villain. Tara Fitzgerald was satisfactory within the confines of the script that forced her to be a depressing and rather sanctimonious victim so much of the time.

That said, I love these classic dramas and virtually all of them are a sight better than much of the "modern" drama on TV these days. So 7 stars because in spite of the irritations it's still a good watch.
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Terrific acting, intense story
Lori S17 July 1999
This is the final novel from the lesser-known of the 3 Bronte sisters. Based partially upon the experiences of their brother Branwell, who abused liquor and opium in his adult life. It brought great shame and stress upon the family until Branwell's death at 31. This movie should be seen for anyone interested in the Brontes, but it's excellent viewing just for the acting & story - just how horrible alcoholism can be...
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9/10
Loved it!!!
l_tarver26 October 2008
I loved it so much that I bought the DVD and the novel at the same time. The chemistry between the actors (including little Arthur) is amazing and thrilling.

It could have used a bit more screen time for the yummy Frederick Lawrence (played by James Purefoy). And Gilbert Markham was amazingly "on it" from the very start of the movie.

The one who most thrilled me via surprising shock and awe and wonder was Rupert Graves as Arthur Huntingdon. I adore him in Forsyte Saga, and all else I've seen him in. But he outdoes himself here as Arthur. In my wildest dreams I could not have pictured him playing a demented psycho such as Arthur Huntingdon. But he does. And I love it. And I love him.
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9/10
A classic book told truly excellently
TheLittleSongbird12 January 2014
Anne Bronte was in the shadow of her sisters Charlotte and Emily and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall less well-known than Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. Charlotte and Emily Bronte are great writers and their books classic but Anne does deserve more credit than just "the other Bronte sister", and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall does deserve to be up there with Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights as it does have all the ingredients of a classic. The book is hugely atmospheric and emotionally impactful and what further makes it a classic is how direct Anne Bronte's writing was and how she really understood her characters and people around her at that time. This dramatisation is just excellent with its only detriment being the ending feeling rather rushed. It is evocatively shot and the scenery is both beautiful and stark, the mist and rocks really giving setting the tone of the book. The costumes and the rest of the production values are incredibly well-done too. The music is haunting and unobtrusive with a real melancholic beauty to it too, some have deemed it anachronistic, I thought it blended with the mood with no problem and actually enhanced it. The script has Anne Bronte's writing style all over it and just as harrowing and heart-wrenching, and while details-wise it is not the most faithful adaptation there is the gritty and affecting spirit of the book is absolutely there and with a great passion also. Regarding other adaptations of any of the Bronte Sisters' work the 1983 Jane Eyre comes closest to evoking that feeling exactly. The direction is sensitive and lets things flow smoothly, if a little hurried at the end. The acting is without complaint, the supporting turns especially Pam Ferris turn in great work but it is the three leads that captivate. Rupert Graves has the juiciest character as Arthur Huntingdon and he is incredible, he shows an initial charming side to Arthur but later becomes brutish and tormented, making it easy for us to really hate him with an ounce of sympathy too. Tara Fitzgerald is appropriately stoic, determined and passionate, you can tell how into the role of Helen she was with what she does physically(ie. no makeup, making her perhaps less attractive than she actually is), people may be frustrated with how too saintly Helen may seem later on but considering the situation Helen was in it's understandable. Toby Stephens gives one of his better performances here too, giving a tender and magnetic performance with ruggedly handsome charm too. In conclusion, the book is a classic and while not quite as good the adaptation is excellent, recommended highly. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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Quite good, but there were hints of greatness
runamokprods7 October 2011
This 3 part BBC adaptation of the Anne Bronte novel runs 160 minutes total.

Nicely shot, with a lot of surprisingly modern camera techniques for a Bronte novel. Usually this works well, although occasionally it gets self conscious (a couple too many 360 shots).

The acting is solid, with Tara Fitzgerald an edgy but still empathetic heroine. But Rupert Graves' switch from flawless seducer to "worst man in the world" type villain is a bit over the top, although that may be the material, or approach more than performance. Indeed, at times I could feel Graves (a very good actor) trying to maintain some humanity under the almost Gothic heartlessness.

The music is interesting and effectively anachronistic as well, often sounding something the Cocteau Twins, but as with the cinematography after a while it starts to get both repetitive and too self consciously avant-garde for a story mostly told in a straightforward Masterpiece Theater fashion.

Lastly, the tidy ending bothered me a bit. The film did a good enough job capturing the complex difficulties of life, that I found myself wish for something that felt more honestly open ended.

All that said, I still enjoyed the story, the scenery, and being transported into another time and place as only good storytelling can do. A quite good adaptation, I just wished it was great, and for 30 minutes or so, thought it might be.
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10/10
Beautiful mini-series with marvelous performances
andialu24 May 1999
The way the story is developed, keeps the audience wondering what is the tenant's dark past. We get some clues during the series, but enough to keep us interested in the mini-series. The characters are all believable and I personally felt immersed and surrounded by the story.
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7/10
Belongs with the great BBC dramas
jack-smales20 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
CONTAINS SPOILERS!

I saw an advert for this on a video.Then my sister discovered that we had the book so I read it.I rented the video on the same day I finished the book.I thought it was very memorable as was the book. The cast was brilliant.Tara Fitzgerald was excellent as Helen and Rupert Graves was hateful as Arthur.The costumes,music and settings are stunningly beautiful.

WARNING!DON`T READ ANY MORE IF YOU HAVEN`T WATCHED THIS

On the downside there are some sex scenes that have been added in and some violence.This is why the video is rated 15. There are some other things that have been thrown in.After the first part,I felt that the accuracy went downhill. While the book is better than this,I am glad I have seen it and would reccomend it to people who have read the book,are fans of Bronte or like costume dramas(I am all 3!)as long as you fastforward through the sex scenes. The book is rather underated.Anne Brontes books don`t seem to be that widely read or well known as Jane Erye or Wuthering Heights which have made it into television and film several times. Another thing.When I read the book ,I was surprised at how much religion ther was in it,but here they had axed that all out!

7\10
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3/10
A tale of love and mystery based on Anne Brontë's novel
Eowyn196717 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I bought this adaptation because I really liked Anne Brontë's novel when I read it some time ago and usually particularly enjoy BBC dramas. But I'm very disappointed, I never thought it would be as bad as that: the whole series made me laugh much more than moved me as the novel had.

First of all, the music (and songs) seems totally out of place in a period drama (sounds as if it's been written for a contemporary horror film)and like another commentator, I was particularly annoyed by the way the cameras spun and spun round the actors. I've seen some scenes filmed that way in "North and South" and it seemed all right there but in The Tenant, it's definitely overdone and simply annoying. Camera movements cannot make wooden acting lively.

Most of the second roles were difficult to distinguish at first and the script lacked clarity. None of the characters were properly introduced at first. The little boy gave a very good performance, he's very cute and the best feature of the film.

SPOILERS Tara Fitzgerald's characterisation of Helen Graham made her appear cold and harsh, letting no emotion pass through. She doesn't seem to be able to cry at all in a realistic way. I just couldn't believe Markham could have fell for her and I'm not mentioning the awful hairdo she was given. I could not help feeling some sympathy with her husband! Fancy being married to such a virago... Besides, he was the only main actor that sounded right to me. Toby Stephens I found just OK, Helen Graham's brother not very good.

Maybe it's difficult to adapt a novel that deals with such bleak subjects as alcoholism and cruelty. Besides, what is only hinted at and left to the reader's imagination in the book is dwelt upon with complaisance in the TV adaptation: making some scenes both gross and comic, (like when Huntingdon's eye starts bleeding) and others far too sexed up for a period drama! I mean, don't we get enough of those bed scenes in contemporary dramas?
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3/10
Great book, blah film
Polly_Plummer13 January 2005
Brilliant book with wonderful characterizations and insights into human nature, particularly the nature of addiction, which still resonate strongly today.

As for the movie... eh. Nothing special. The cameraman clearly had an unfortunate addiction to circling and circling and CIRCLING around everything, making the viewer quite nauseous. Why the director didn't put a stop to this is beyond me--but maybe he was too busy trying, and somehow failing, to draw good performances from these normally excellent but inappropriately-cast actors. All in all, a weak adaptation. Your three hours would be better spent reading (or re-reading) the book.
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8/10
Lovely story, well before its time and a faithful rendering of dear Anne Bronte's work
Amy Adler4 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
In the early 1800's, a pastoral neighborhood in a remote part of Britain has a new resident. She's Helen (Tara Fitzgerald) and assumed to be a widow, with a young son Arthur. The house she moves into has seen better days, being a rather decrepit old mansion called Wildfell Hall. In truth, its odd, but Helen seems determined to use only a small portion of the house and make it liveable. Although she wants to be left alone, neighbors come calling repeatedly, at first, wanting to meet her and be kind. They are very curious about her constant oil painting, as it seems to be her means of support. Especially taken with the widow is young, single sheep farmer, Gilbert (Toby Stephens). All too soon, rumors start to spread. Is she really a widow? Is she meeting a man named Frederick at the Hall in secret? Why is she so uncommunicative? Gilbert is the only one who is befriended by her, becoming his confident and relating information about her past, bit by bit. When it all comes out, will love stay strong and true between Helen and Gilbert? This magnificent story from the Bronte sister Anne is one to cherish. Helen is a trailblazer in that she has run away from an abusive,alcoholic husband, even though the law says she can't, and earns her living by her own hands. Therefore, the tale has some sad matters to discuss, indeed. Nevertheless, it is still a beautiful tale of redemption, second chances and love. The breathtaking English countryside delights while costumes and cast are equally fine. What, you only remember Jane Eyre by that other Bronte gal? Expand your knowledge and try this one as well.
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10/10
Ah, the "final" Bronte . . . sister, that is . . .
skyhouse513 December 2008
After reading only two of the comments herein, as a lifelong Bronte fan, beginning with Olivier's Heathcliff and enduring with the many versions of Charlotte's "Rochester," it is more than eye-opening to see that it is the UNsung Bronte sister who gave the lie to the male-chauvinist period the trio inhabited. Of course, the "miracle" in all three versions of 19th-Century British domesticity is that the "girls" were all "spinsters" and their only realistic brushes with "men" were their vicar father and their wastrel? brother. That said, finally, it is ANNE Bronte who has, in her single assay?, proved the "feminist" point, way way ahead of contemporary types, and including the "voting franchise" ranks. However, history evinces more than a few who preceded, including the Greek heterai and Sappho and the likes of an ancient emperor's Yang Kuei-fei. And how about "Eve" and her apple?
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8/10
Powerful and relevant today
phd_travel29 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This is a moving and powerful adaptation of Anne Bronte's novel. Unlike her sister's much more famous novels which are Gothic romances this is a contemporary (for it's time) novel about marriage and domestic abuse and the rights of women at the time. It is way ahead of its time and quite relevant today. The little observances of the mean spirited gossip mongers in the village are quite acutely observed. An abused wife flees her husband with their son and tries to live incognito in another village. The "old fashioned" part is when she returns to fulfill her duty to care for him when he is dying. But it's quite touching.

Production is good - the 2 houses featured suit the story. The actors are good as can be expected. Rupert Graves is effective as the abusive unfaithful husband. Tara Fitzgerald isn't quite pretty enough for the role - so many men shouldn't fall so hopelessly in love with her.

There are some departures from the novel but they are improvements for dramatic effect.

Overall worth watching.
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