A new adaptation of the classic novel by Henry Fielding of the life, loves and adventures of the charming rascal Tom Jones. A foundling child born of a serving wench but allowed to grow up ... See full summary »
A new adaptation of the classic novel by Henry Fielding of the life, loves and adventures of the charming rascal Tom Jones. A foundling child born of a serving wench but allowed to grow up in the privileged surroundings of Squire Allworthy's household. This position allows him to grow up with, make the acquaintance of and eventually fall in love with the beautiful daughter of his wealthy neighbour, Sophia Western. However, the path to true love rarely runs smooth and family pressure, the difference in their parentage and 18th century social custom prevent the young lovers from being together. Eventually both are forced out of their gentile, protected surroundings and into the great wide world to see what adventures real life might bring... Written by
Mark Smith <email@example.com>
This mini-series produced by the BBC and A & E has got to be one of the finest things television has given us. It ranks with I Claudius and Elizabeth R as great dramatic art. Full of wit, great storytelling, and wonderful acting, this version of Henry Fielding's classic tale gives the Albert Finney movie from the 60's a run for it's money and emerges triumphant.
Firstly, the adaptation is masterful. Having Fielding himself narrate the story (delightfully played by John Sessions) was a stroke of genius. It has the advantage of presenting this boistrous tale in much more detail than the previous movie. Fielding's characters are so rich (much like Dickens) that
you don't mind spending alot of the time with them. Characters like Allworthy, Partridge, Thwackum and Square are comparative non-entities in the Tony Richardson movie. Here they emerge as sharp etched portraits that give the story so much more substance. In addition, the 1963 movie had to leave out large chunks of the story to tell it in under three hours. Additionally, Richardson's screenwriter John Osborne changed many details of the story to account for cutting out so many characters. Simon Burke and his collaboators on this project stick to Fielding with great results.
The direction by Metin Hüseyin is simply wonderful. He tells us the story and relishes every moment. The mini-series is cast with a splendid ensemble of actors. The great Brian Blessed has a field day with the boorish Squire Western. Frances de la Tour as his prune faced sister doesn't erase memories of Dame Edith Evans from the movie version, but she is very convincing nonetheless. James D'Arcy's Mr. Blifil is a brilliant, consistant job of careful, understated, contrived villainy. And Lindsy Duncan is a revelation as the evil Lady Balleston. Joan Greenwood is not nearly slimey enough in the movie version. Duncan manages to outdo Glenn Closes's sensual depravity in Dangerous Liaisons.
Max Beesley doesn't mug his way through the role like Albert Finney did. He plays Tom as more of the Candide-like innocent and is all the more attractive and sympathetic because of it. Samantha Morton's Sophia is simply unbelievable. She has a wide emotional range throughout the story and plays each moment to near perfection. She also exudes more capricious youthfulness than did Susannah York in the movie. The large supporting cast is excellent; not a weak performance among them.
I must also mention the delightful musical score by Jim Parker that adds to the movie's entertaining virtues.
Yes, the Tony Richardson won't Best Picture at the Oscars. But frankly, it's looking very dated these days. To be sure, it has it's wonderful moments, but it is far superceded by the newer effort.
So thank God for the BBC and A & E who continue to bring us classics like this in versions far more lucid than Hollywood could muster. Don't be swayed by Julie on the title page. This is a clear winner!
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