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I have watched a lot of the BBC's excellent costume dramas, and of course was not disappointed in The Scarlet Pimpernel. The acting is first rate, with Richard E Grant making a very handsome and witty Sir Percy, and dashing and sexy Scarlet Pimpernel. The locations are beautiful, the costumes breath-taking, and the sword fights amazing! I hope there is another series, otherwise I shall be ringing up the Beeb crying for more!
...if not a very good adaptation. Yes, the film deviates a little from the book, but what adaptation does not? (i.e. Sense and Sensibility, An Ideal Husband, Gone With the Wind, etc.) Some guidlines for watching this oft-critised film: do not expect a line-for-line, blow-by-blow, true-to-the-nth-degree page to film adaptation. Take the film on it's own, and enjoy it as the solid show it is. Do expect an exciting, romantic, wickedly funny trilogy. The costumes a quite good, and the music adds quite a bit, being rather good. The story of The Scarlet Pimpernel is well known, so I won't bore you by recounting what you already know, but I will say this - I and those who have watched with me found ourselves laughing at the exhanges, loving Sir Percy, and cheering on Marguerite. I have read the book, and can say that Richard E. Grant brings a vivacity and new depth to the Pimpernel, and Elizabeth McGovern, though not always outstanding, is wholly adaquate as the passionate, willful and dedicated wife of Sir Percy, Marguerite St. Just. Just watch this film, and enjoy it for what it is. I know I did.
I am not quite sure I agree with the director of this version of The
Pimpernel. I imagined Sir Percy Blakeney a very calm, seemingly lazy
aristocrat. This particular Sir Percy Blakeney appears to be teeming with
overwhelming energy and volatility. I did not appreciate the Houdini,
Bond, Mission Impossible style escapes that Sir Percy engineered either.
the previous versions, wit was the tool for escape, not technology.
were the characters of Marguerite and Chauvelin adequately portrayed.
seemed to be little energy or chemistry in the interaction between the
I do not wish to assign any blame, for perhaps the reason for my dislike of this movie might simply be a matter of difference in interpretation. Had the director's interpretation coincided with mine, perhaps I might not have been irritated by what seemed to me bad character portrayals.
I much preferred the version from 1982. Anthony Andrews was quite efficient as the imperturbable, calm fop. So were Jane Seymour and Ian McKellen. In my opinion, the style of this period piece seems to have been lost with this latest adaption. I recommend sticking with the previous versions, either the one from 1934 or the one from 1982.
When I was in high school, the A&E adaption came out. I was anxious to
watch the story from seeing the previews. The movie didn't let me down.
Of course, I had never seen or read of the Scarlet Pimpernel before. I
loved the movie so much that I wanted to read the book because books
are usually better. (That only makes me want to roll my eyes at
libraries in small towns.) It took me a couple of years to find a copy.
Now, I read it on-line and the books following behind. I hate that the
movie has received such horrible reviews.
Even after reading the book, I think that Richard E. Grant was cast exceptionally well, perfectly portraying Sir Percy Blakeney and the Scarlet Pimpernel. I was a little disappointed in Marguerite's casting. I think the make-up artist had more of a problem than Elizabeth McGovern.
Some may not have liked the adaption, but that is what it is--an adaption. Maybe the original story would have been better, but I disagree. I see it as and addition to the stories-not the original, but a new adventure--exciting wonderful adventure--to add to the past stories and characters of the Scarlet Pimpernel. Altogether, it was a wonderful series that made me want more! And more!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Okay, first off: I have read several of the books by Baroness Orczy.
That, if you catch my meaning, is not THIS.
THIS being the three episode set with Richard Grant. I thought some parts excellent, some cheesy - but good cheese. Grant himself I thought excellent as the Pimpernel. He plays the witty fop perfectly - not lazily, but one who travels, and seeks new things to be witty about. When the serious things begin, he sobers up, and you get to see the real Pimpernel. Grant rarely lets the drama of the situation weigh him down, consistently has fun with his role. Though not emphasized, his sword-play is quite passable, too.
Elisabeth McGovern as Marguerite is the questionable one here. At some points, you think she is perfect for the role; at others, you wonder how they chose her to play the part. Her British accent is passable when she remembers it; and - my biggest gripe - I did not think her pretty enough for the role. She is an attractive actress, yes, but not the knockout Marguerite was supposed to be - The Most Beautiful Woman in France? I think not. Her acting is on the whole good, however, as is her stage presence, so much can and is overlooked.
My biggest surprise was Martin Shaw as Chauvelin. Shaw took the role and made more of it than either Raymond Massey or Ian McKellen, combining the past lover with man striving to be in constant control of the situation. His gift for sarcasm, whether natural or invented for this role, is put to good use here. He actually seems almost human at times, trying to serve himself, and France (yes, I did get that feeling). By contrast, McKellen's Chauvelin cannot get his mind off Marguerite, and Massey's (excellent) portrayal seems one dimensional (not his fault). Martin Shaw was one of the strongest points of this production.
The supporting cast was equally good. Emilia Fox (I think that's the right spelling) portrays an excellent bad girl in Episode I, While the bad guy of Episode III is superb - almost stole the show from Grant. EPisode II features another excellent bad girl who meets a surprising end. Sets and costuming are what befit a BBC production, and the camera work is excellent: frequent use of distance and panorama make it seem something other than a TV movie. Storyline and plot - it makes sense taken by itself, and provides a good, exciting romp through the world of Revolutionary France. Not close to the book, but it doesn't need to be close to the book to be effective. If you're an Orczy purist, don't bother with it. If, like me, you're looking for good period drama with a flair for action and comedy, this is excellent. And well-worth seeing, and re-seeing. Enjoy.
I have always been interested in the time of The French Revolution and
have always found the story of The Scarlet Pimpernel to be awfully
dramatic and romantic. T
he first episode aired in Australia in 2000 and I remember being glued to the television, something which was quite unusual for me at that time.
Richard E. Grant is amazing in the Role of the dashing Scarlet Pimpernel and of course as the arrogant upper class Sir Percy Blakeney. His charm is very endearing indeed. He is exactly the right actor for the role!
Give this mini-series a chance to charm the pants off you! I have been unhappy with the other comments on this page!
The Scarlet Pimpernel was a wonderful movies!! It's got love, action, and most importantly, plenty of humor. What more can you ask! Richard E. Grant was great as Sir Percy Blakeney (aka the Scarlet Pimpernel). The rest of the cast was wonderful as well! I have never read the book nor heard of it until i saw this movie. Therefore, I don't know what close the movie was to it. However, I trust that the book is as wonderful as the movie! The only thing that I thought wasn't so great was Sir Blakeney's coolness toward Lady Blakeney (Elizabeth McGovern). He seemed too cool and aloof towards her and seems to be constantly trying to embarrass her in public. It was as if he barely knew her. However, the movie was still great and I still give it 10 stars! In fact, I would give it 11 stars if I could!
I'll confess, I've never read the books. I have however seen several
productions of the play onstage and I prefer this beautiful miniseries by
far. All of the productions I've seen before cast elderly men with cute
lines but no charisma. The choice of Richard E. Grant for the Scarlet
Pimpernel surprised me, but he did a wonderful job with it. I was very
surprised by his performance, as I'd only ever known him as a
supporting/character actor (like Twelfth Night and Gosford Park).
As a life-long Elizabeth McGovern fan, I can't help but love her. She's a fantastic actress, but whoever did her hair should be guillotined. For a really beautiful woman, they hid it well under ten pounds of brown wig. It sadly resulted in her looking much older than she actually is, but fortunately this isn't the case for the entire movie (at least at the end she gets a haircut!) But her striking features still shine through and her beautiful performance far outweighs that hairstyle. She also manages her accent very well (she's originally from Illinois) But, well, I watched the whole miniseries just for her, so I can't help but think she's the real star.
Ronan Vibert is another actor I've liked for a long time, and he did a fantastic job as Robespierre. Martin Shaw's Chauvelin got on my nerves a bit, but he's fine. The big surprise was sweet little Emilia Fox in the role of Minette. I'd never seen her play a villain before, and was pretty impressed by it. All in all, I really enjoyed this miniseries, and highly recommend it.
Having read the books and seen the 1982 Anthony Andrews/Jane
Seymour version, I have to say that this is not good at all.
According to the books, Percy is supposed to be a seemingly
foppish aristocrat when he's being Percy, and witty and clever
when he's being the Pimpernel, but here he just looks bored as
Percy and mean as the Pimpernel. Marguerite is supposed to be
the most beautiful woman in Europe, not a tired and frumpy-looking matron (she looks middle-aged, probably due to
bad make-up). Richard E. Grant has done much better things, and
Elizabeth McGovern's acting is uninspired and flat. The wit and
dash of the books and the Andrews/Seymour film is here replaced
by brawn and flashy editing that just don't make the cut.
I might add that to a person who hasn't seen any previous version
or read the book, it would probably look ok.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Richard Grant, with his irreverent poetry and in-your-face attitude toward the villains, is absolutely, 100% perfect as THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL. The production values are likewise outstanding in this mini-series. If there's one complaint I have, it's that the initial episode lacked one all-important ingredient: SUSPENSE. At no time did we ever really get the impression that Percy was in any real danger; the lack of suspense therefore works against the idea of a man who must remain masked lest he risk his head... (And, not to nitpick, but I must admit that the fact that EVERYONE speaks with an English accent sorta threw me: time and again I found myself hoping someone would silence the arrogant Brits looking to kill our hero... and then I would realize that they were supposed to be FRENCH... A minor quibble, perhaps, but a quibble, nonetheless- like white men in blackface or "Romans" and "Greeks" who speak with English accents in teleseries after teleseries...) A great show. Too bad it didn't last.
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