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Vanity Fair (2004)

PG-13 | | Drama | 1 September 2004 (USA)
Growing up poor in London, Becky Sharp defies her poverty-stricken background and ascends the social ladder alongside her best friend, Amelia.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »

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2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Angelica Mandy ...
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Ms. Green (as Lillette Dubey)
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John Franklyn-Robbins ...
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Gambler
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Storyline

The British Empire flowers; exotic India colors English imaginations. Becky Sharp, the orphaned daughter of a painter and a singer, leaves a home for girls to be a governess, armed with pluck, a keen wit, good looks, fluent French, and an eye for social advancement. Society tries its best to keep her from climbing. An episodic narrative follows her for 20 years, through marriage, Napoleonic wars, a child, loyalty to a school friend, the vicissitudes of the family whose daughters she instructed, and attention from a bored marquess who collected her father's paintings. Honesty tempers her schemes. No aristocrat she, nor bourgeois, just spirited, intelligent, and irrepressible. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

In a time of social climbers, Becky Sharp is a mountaineer. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some sensuality/partial nudity and a brief violent image | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

1 September 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Vanidad  »

Box Office

Budget:

$23,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$6,268,925 (USA) (3 September 2004)

Gross:

$16,123,851 (USA) (5 November 2004)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the early 1970s Stanley Kubrick wanted to direct an adaptation of this book, but found it to be too big to make it into a three-hour film. He instead made Barry Lyndon (1975). See more »

Goofs

Becky sings "Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal," a poem Lord Alfred Tennyson wrote in 1847 and appears in the Thackeray novel (1848) on which the film is based. Because the novel concludes over a decade later (we assume on or before the present day for the author), and young Georgie, born in 1815 or 1816, is still only an adolescent, she would have sung it no later than 1840, which is well before it was published. However, the anachronism is Thackeray's and not the film makers'. See more »

Quotes

George Osborne: [as Becky plays a piano forte] So, Miss Sharp. How do you like your new place?
Becky Sharp: My place? How kind of you to remind me. It's quite tolerable, thank you. And they treat me very well. But then, this is a gentleman's family... and quite a change from tradespeople.
George Osborne: You seemed to like tradespeople well enough last year.
Becky Sharp: Joseph Sedley, you mean? It's true. If he'd ask me, I would not have said no.
George Osborne: How very obliging of you.
Becky Sharp: I know what you're thinking. What an honor to have had you for a brother in-law....
[...]
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Crazy Credits

Before the credits start rolling the word "Alvida" (goodbye) appears in Urdu script. Beneath it is the following dedication: for our beloved Ammy Kulsum Alibhai 1927-2003 See more »

Connections

Version of Vanity Fair (1911) See more »

Soundtracks

Over the Mountains/The Great Adventurer
Arranged by David McGuiness
Produced by Mychael Danna
Performed by Custer LaRue
Custer LaRue appears courtesy of The Dorian Group, Ltd.
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User Reviews

Fairly Vain
21 October 2004 | by See all my reviews

Elegant costumes, beautiful scenery, and piano playing in excess all add to the sights and sounds of Mira Nair's film 'Vanity Fair.' Her 2004 version is one of over ten tries to put William Makepeace Thackeray's novel onto the big screen. Most attempts failed miserably, lacking the magic of today's movies and failing to grasp the themes of the novel. Nair's version, with its visual and audible pleasures, has the potential to become one of the few successful attempts.

With humble beginnings as a poor child with a starving artist as her father, Becky (Reese Witherspoon) was determined to overcome her circumstance. She managed to work her way into a governess position in a down-on-his-luck aristocrat. New opportunities arise, and she hastily abandons her post to become the companion to a wealthy woman known only as Miss Crawley (Eileen Atkins). Much to Miss Crawley's displeasure, Becky wastes no time in her quest to climb the social ladder and marries into the family. Becky's new husband, Crawley's nephew, is soon sent off to war. Returning after the battle of Waterloo, their marriage is rocky due to his gambling debts and her never-ending quest to raise her social status. Meeting a man who collected her late father's art, she uses his money and his influence to continue her rise in the social hierarchy, causing more distress to their marriage.

Nair attempted to bring something new to the film, using her fantastic creative talents in the costuming and scenery. Her musical choices weren't overwhelming and accented the film rather than hiding behind its beautiful visual aspects. She tried to cover the expanse of the novel, but ending up making a summary of the story and leaving the characters bland and undeveloped. Nair intentionally portrays Becky as a victim of the social system, showing her as merely taking advantage of circumstantial events. This contradicts harshly with Thackeray's Becky, who is manipulative and cunning, turning circumstantial events into anything that will benefit her rise up the social ladder.

This movie is beautifully made and had the potential to become something great, but Nair's overly eager attempt leaves it as nothing more than another mediocre film. Had she paid as much attention to the plot and the characters as she did to the audio and visual aspects, this would definitely be the best film of the year. But she didn't, so don't waste your seven dollars to see it in the theater. Wait for the video, or better yet, wait for that one Friday night when you are home alone and it comes on cable.


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