Gormenghast is an ancient city-state which primarily consists of a rambling and crumbling castle. The narrative, based on the first two of the three Gormenghast novels by Mervyn Peake, begins with the birth of a son, Titus, to the 76th Earl, Sepulchrave Groan, and Countess Gertrude. This mismatched pair (he'd prefer the melancholy privacy of his library; she'd prefer the company of her menagerie of cats and birds) also have a teenaged daughter, Fuchsia, who resents her new brother but comes to love him dearly. Simultaneously, a young kitchen apprentice, Steerpike, takes advantage of an altercation between head cook Swelter and the Earl's manservant, Mr. Flay, and escapes from the kitchens. Gormenghast is rigidly feudal in structure, but Steerpike has ambitions. He befriends the imaginative, yearning Fuchsia, and through her becomes apprenticed to the castle physician, Dr. Prunesquallor, who lives with his man-hunting sister Irma. This position allows Steerpike to work his way into the... Written by
This looks like being the year of big budget gothic adventure (all featuring Christopher Lee) with Sleepy Hollow packing them in at multiplexes around Britain and The Lord of the Rings trilogy currently shooting in New Zealand - not to mention this lavish mini-series which is one of the biggest fantasy productions ever staged on British TV.
Gormenghast spent five years in production and it seems like all the hard work was worth the wait.
With an impressive cast including Celia Imrie, John Sessions, Warren Mitchell and Jonathan Rhys Myers, the BBC have ensured that Mervyn Peake's classic tale of murder, seduction and tragic events striking the family of a crumbling castle is a faithful version of a literary classic.
At one point, Sting owned the rights to the books and was planning to star in a movie version - he settled for playing Steerpike in an adaptation from 1984.
It's perhaps best that this ended up as a TV drama: The plot and scale of the original material is far too dense to do justice in a two hour movie.
The casting is excellent, the special effects are fine and direction by Andy Wilson is assured.
Well worth a look.
18 of 23 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?