This Masterpiece Theatre production, set at the cusp of the Industrial Revolution, chronicles the life, loves, foibles and politics of the fictional English town of Middlemarch. Adapted ... See full summary »
This mini series covers 60 years in the lives of the Cleary family, brought from New Zealand to Australia to run their aunt Mary Carson's ranch. The story centers on their daughter, Meggie,... See full summary »
An impoverished woman who has been forced to choose between a privileged life with her wealthy aunt and her journalist lover, befriends an American heiress. When she discovers the heiress is attracted to her own lover and is dying, she sees a chance to have both the privileged life she cannot give up and the lover she cannot live without.
Helena Bonham Carter,
It is interesting to watch this series, one of the first British dramatizations of a classic novel, to see how far and how fast the method of filmmaking developed in subsequent years. In comparison with the great work the BBC was doing 10 or even 5 years later, "Portrait of a Lady" definitely seems like it comes out of the stone age of TV drama. There is something very stiff and stilted about this dramatization, though I suspect it is reasonably faithful to the book. First of all, the length is very gruelling; it's been some years since I watched it, but I seem to recall it being about 4 or 5 hours long. In a piece of such length, one suddenly notices the lack of artistry in the film work - most of the scenes are shot with a stationary camera, sort of middle distance, with very little in the way of closeups or angle changes. It is, for all the world, just like watching a stage play on TV, and I suspect that at this early stage, that is precisely how British television approached classic literature. Most of the story takes place indoors, which is rather a relief, as the occasional exterior scene tossed in looks embarrassingly fake.
The acting is good, and it's delightful to see Edward Fox in this series, so young and handsome, but the pacing is glacial. By the time I'd gotten about two-thirds of the way through this series, I realized that the characters were just going to talk and talk, and were never going to DO anything at all. Friends of mine who have read a lot of Henry James assure me that that is exactly what his novels are like, so perhaps the series gets points for fidelity to its origin, but it just doesn't make for very interesting TV.
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