Daniel Deronda (TV Mini-Series 2002– ) Poster

(2002– )

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"I don't love her any more than she loves me. That's not the point."
KatharineFanatic18 April 2003
Having never read George Eliot's novel, I came into the film with only what I know based on the information friends have given me. The film is utterly exquisite. The costuming alone will have Anglophiles like myself crying from sheer envy, and there's enough archery, riding, and balls to weigh out the seriousness of the film, which is essentially two plots woven into one. An utterly heartless and wretched marriage for a spoiled young Gwendolyn in the form of the evil Grandcourt, a landowner whose sole pleasure lies in torment. Be it his wife or dogs, our heartless villain never takes greater pleasure than in dangling something before them and tearing it away again, only to feed it to someone else. We see a kind of barbarism in this act, be it with the family spaniel or his impoverished, abandoned mistress.

The second plot line, which I found slightly less interesting, was about the film's lead, Daniel Deronda, a presumed illigitimate boy who has been raised a country gentleman. One day while out boating he saves a Jewish singer from drowning herself, and sets out to discover his own true identity through finding her family. I don't know why, but I found myself itching through these scenes to get back to Gwendolyn and her pathetic plight of enslavement to her husband. A second viewing, once I knew the course of the characters, settled me a bit.

The acting is very stellar. There's not a weak link in the cast, although I have to say seeing Barbara Hershey seemed a little out of place in this Victorian paradox. The film makes numerous contrasts between good and evil, selfishness and humility, lies and deception. It's actually quite an achievement, and I was pleased at the amount of restraint showed by the filmmakers. The sexual tension between man and wife will go over most younger viewer's heads, something for which I'm grateful. It's rare we get a wonderful Victorian bodice ripper where the bodice stays on.
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Exquisite Adaptation
sydneypatrick5 June 2003
This was one of the more exquisite costume drama adaptations I have seen, with attention to detail absolutely striking in an archery scene that sets the bar for the entire series. Like the novel, it is polarizing in its two stories in one - people seem to either love/hate Daniel's plight or love/hate Gwendolyn's.

Personally, I found Gwendolyn equally annoying in both novel and film. Hugh Darcy, as the eponymous hero, was pretty to look at and delivers a fine, if unremarkable, performance.

But it is Hugh Bonneville as the dastardly Henleigh Grandcourt who took my breath away! He is flawlessly reprehensible, stealing every scene he was in and when he wasn't in a scene, I couldn't wait to see him again! It was terrific seeing Hugh Bonneville in such a role, as he's usually cast in the "very nice guy" roles (Bridget Jones Diary, Iris, Tipping the Velvet, etc). Although he's fine in such roles, as Grandcourt he made my skin crawl with his morally bankrupt, wealthy and pugnacious swagger. LOVED him!

What this series could have used more of was Jodhi May and Greta Scacchi. In difficult supporting roles, both women shine as, respectively, a searching, haunted Jewess and a scorned, bitter mistress. Barbara Hershey makes an appearance late in the series in a pivotal plot device that I won't reveal lest some unsuspecting viewer be bitter with me, and in a limited role gives a performance that reminds us why she became famous in the first place (and at least for this viewer, made me forgive her 'Beaches').

Overall, this adaptation is very enjoyable and recommended viewing for fans of the genre.
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Don't Judge "Deronda" Based on the First 15 Minutes
hfk11 April 2004
The first time 'round, when PBS initially offered up "Deronda", I watched the first 15 minutes or so and was so disgusted with Gwendolynn that I changed channels and didn't think twice. Second time 'round, based on reviews here at IMDB, I gave it a bit more time and I'm certainly glad that I did. "Deronda" is a powerfull, beautiful, bit of television. I'm a conservative by nature and, on a regular basis, I'm sickened by the politically correct preaching that's often pushed by PBS and Network television. Daniel Deronda like, say "Prime Suspect", is story-telling with a liberal slant that is both legitimate and thought-provoking. I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and the lush production. I'm surprised by the nit-picking about "wooden" acting: I found the acting excellent, particularly compared to the endless trash television that's pumped into the idiot box these days. perhaps this is trite, but "Deronda" actually inspired me, uplifted me and, at least as far as I'm concerned, that's one of the most significant hallmarks of great art. Don't miss it.
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No "Middlemarch, but still pretty decent
DorotheusBrooksham4 January 2003
"Daniel Deronda" is the only novel George Eliot wrote after "Middlemarch", and it's also the strangest novel she's ever written, because one can never figure out whether the two story-lines are actually two separate novels put into one book. One continually has the impression on reading the book that the two story-lines could exist independently of each other. Mind you, she did the same thing with "Middlemarch", only here the two story-lines, those of Dorothea Brooke and Tertius Lydgate, are interrelated and interwoven ingeniously, which is one of the reasons why Middlemarch is such a masterpiece of structure. But I digress. In "Daniel Deronda" this relation is far less apparent, which makes it a lesser novel than Middlemarch, structurally speaking, but not necessarily a less fascinating one. One story-line is about the beautiful, vain, spoiled and idealistic and free-fought Gwendolen Harleth, one of Eliot's great, great heroines, who is forced to marry Henleigh Grandville to save her father from financial ruin. Grandcourt is also one of the most fascinating characters in Eliot's canon, for he seems to be the only one of her characters who is truly evil and who is not redeemed. He intents giving in to all of her caprices and wants at first and after due time to basically enslave her. The other story is that of Daniel Deronda, who is of Jewish heritage and starts a quest to find out more about it and in doing so meets the young Jewish idealist Mordecai, who dreams of a homeland for all Jews and who lectures Deronda on being who he is and on being true to his heritage: Jewish. In the book George Eliot seemed to have wanted to juxtapose Gwendolen's vanity and spoiledness with Mordecai's idealism, with Deronda being the only link between the two story-lines. He tries to bring some relief to Gwendolen's life of her oppressive marriage to Grandcourt. Which puts him in the strange position of being something of a mentor to Gwendolen and Mordecai´s disciple. But does it work on the small screen? Yes and no. I´ve always found Gwendolen´s part in the book far more interesting than Mordecai´s and I really had to struggle through it, it being quite tedious at times. Also I think Eliot was in a bit over her head in dealing with such issues as heritage, especially Jewish heritage. But she meant well. Mordecai's role on the mini-series is much diminished for the sake of the love-story between Deronda and Mirah. Which is probably a good thing, but it still didn't quite work. It just will not get interesting, perhaps this is because I am not Jewish. The most interesting part is Gwendolen. This story is the George Eliot I know and love. Most of Eliot's normal themes are recur here. The tension between ideals and the rules of society, selfishness and vanity, and the role of women in the Victorian marriage. All these themes are touched upon. Gwendolen's, played by the stunning Romola Garai, oppression by Grandcourt, played by the chillingly brilliant is her criticism of the roles of men and women in marriage. Women were basically slaves. And Gwendolen's redemption and spiritual rebirth is basically George Eliot saying that you can't be idealistic all your life and that you have to adhere to society's rules if there's going to be any chance of you being happy. The acting at times seemed a bit wooden, not in the least by Garai and Dancy. But Bonnneville was absolutely brilliant in it. He is truly evil. Mary Ann would have been proud. All in all I´d say this a pretty good adaptation of the novel. I give it a 7 out of 10.
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brilliant production
raymond-1522 November 2006
The title gave me no clue to the absorbing romantic Victorian drama that was to follow. Said to be George Eliot's last great novel, it exposes in no uncertain manner the pitiful life of the Victorian woman, hardly more than an obedient slave and forced to respond to her husband's demands.

Hugh Bonneville stands out among the excellent cast as the nasty Henleigh Grandcourt who revels in watching women squirm under his aristocratic power and Romola Garai is perfect as Gwendolen who marries him, not for love, but to save her family from economic ruin.

Hugh Dancy in the title role of Daniel has immediate appeal with his handsome good looks touched with both shyness and sadness as he ponders over his past life and the unsolved mystery of his mother's identity.

After Daniel saves a woman from drowning in a river, the story takes an unexpected turn and concentrates on the Jewish problem of a permanent homeland. Daniel is much attracted to the woman he has saved and through his efforts to help her some mysteries of his own life are revealed to him.

The sets, costumes and photography capture exquisitely life in England in the Victorian era. Quite apart from the romantic drama, there is much to ponder over in this story. Thankfully to-day women have gained a degree of independence, though not entirely, and the Jews are still uncertain about the boundaries of their homeland.

I can recommend this film which is in 4 parts. Set aside a full evening to watch the story unfold. It's quite long (205 minutes) but a brilliant production.
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Hugh Dancy brought both the character and the novel Daniel Deronda to life for me.
Emma8 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
It was interesting to read the various comments put up here about the screen adaptation of Daniel Deronda. I watched it at the time it was first shown on television and thought it was really excellent. Then shortly afterwards, I came across the novel whilst on holiday and having enjoyed the television adaptation, I began to read the book and couldn't put it down. After that I felt compelled to go back to watch the televised version again and felt that although, as with any screenplay, it could not include every detail from the original novel, it captured the essence of the book extremely well and that it was truly inspiring. In fact I even re-read the book shortly afterwards. I thought the acting was superb and would certainly take issue with other user comments about both Gwendolyn and Daniel. Daniel was supposed to be almost saint-like and consequently somewhat removed from the other characters, although he did care deeply about them. I thought that Hugh Dancy did this very well, as it was so difficult to portray such a character. I certainly don't think he was in any way "wooden". He apparently said that having read the novel at university, he found it fascinating and helpful when filming to refer constantly to the original novel for guidance, and that needless to say, it gave him a much greater insight into the novel than when he had first read it. (Actually it was through watching Daniel Deronda that I became a loyal fan of Hugh Dancy.) I confess that I found myself quite illogically drawn to Gwendolyn's character as she advanced through the story to such an extent that the end of the screen version always makes me cry. Obviously she was intensely annoying to begin with, but she pays for her immaturity and her selfish and thoughtless behaviour by the end of the novel. I thought she was a far more interesting character than Mirah, not that I didn't think that Jodhi May was excellent in that role, but I loved the sexual tension between Gwendolyn and Deronda - the fact that they almost kissed but never did, so that in the end, even though you sensed it was a relationship going nowhere, you really wanted them to get physical. Of course Deronda was too honourable to do any such thing! Ah! Therein lies the attraction of the character for me: such purity and honour, (and of course Hugh Dancy is beautiful...) but there's not too much of that left these days - I refer to purity and honour.
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A slice of Victorian life
George Parker26 December 2004
"Daniel Deronda" is a worthy knock-off of George Eliot's novel of the same name which tells of a young Englishman's search for meaning and purpose while enjoying a life of property and leisure. As with most Victorian period costume dramas out of the UK, this film is sumptuously appointed and well represented by the players and places as it meanders through the usual multiplicity of relationships from aristocrat to pauper with a Jewish thread for distinction. "Daniel Deronda" conjures a range of characters from a stoic martinet to a spoiled beauty to an attractive Jewess and beyond with love, greed, envy, guile, and death all swirling around the Deronda character as it manages to sort itself out with a coherent story arc and a more or less happy ending. A "should see" for anyone into Victorian flicks. (B)
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You want to change the ending? you then ruin what George Eliot intended!
winles15 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
We could all find endings to novels that we would like to change,but this is to set us up as a better writer than the author.

Contains possible Spoilers:~

The whole point of Daniel Deronda is to contrast the unloving Grandcourt and Gwendolyn

with the loving Daniel & Mirah.

It is also to show how the upper class society of England at the time was empty corrupt and without feeling. Where the oppressed,poor and faithful Jewish society was the opposite.

To have ended the novel by putting Daniel with Gewndolyn would have completely ruined the whole point of the story. The point being Gwendolyn starts to see her redemption by not having Daniel(or anything she wanted) and Daniel realising just how shallow and selfish Gwendolyn was. As a subplot Daniel finds his Jewish ancestry and realises just why and what feelings he had for Mirah. Change the end to Daniel with Gwendolyn and you completely destroy the whole construction of the plot,and as such there is no novel. We cannot always have happy endings (in a novel as in life) and we try and alter them to our peril. Do we really think we are a greater author than George Eliot? Perhaps we should try changing Dickens,Hardy or Gaskell? If you answer yes then your ego is bigger than your intelligence.
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Excellent adaptation despite the slight departure from the book
Nooshin Navidi11 September 2010
If you're familiar with George Eliot and have read her books, you'll most likely enjoy this adaptation.

But if you're a George Eliot purist, you may be dismayed by the film's romanticization of Daniel & Gwendolyn's relationship. I personally was okay with it and found it a forgivable artistic liberty, as it was handled delicately and tastefully and did not detract from the heart of the story. In fact, I liked the adapted screenplay for its restraint.

If you're a Jane Austen fan but not familiar with Eliot's work, you might find this story lacking in wit compared to Austen's stories, or just too glum. But George Eliot herself was a very different woman from Austen. The Jewish subplot--something that is also present in Eliot's more famous 'Middlemarch'--is enough to make the two authors different, but the sociopolitical depth and soberness of Eliot's work also sets them apart.

The casting was terrific all around (including the magnificently aging Greta Scacchi), and the costumes & scenery were perfect.

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Excellent production of Evans' last Victorian novel
SimonJack13 October 2012
Mary Anne Evans finished writing "Daniel Deronda" in 1876. It was the last of several novels she wrote under the pen name, George Eliot. She was 57 at the time and would live but four more years. Among more than 40 fiction writers of the period, Eliot was one of the great chroniclers of 19th century English society (Georgian-Victorian).

"Deronda" is also the last of Eliot's books to be scripted for a movie. This rendition by the BBC in three parts is excellent. For the fairly recent filming – 2002, the film makers were able to capture the England of the 1870s very well. The cinematography was excellent, as were the script and direction. The acting was first-rate by the entire cast. As some others have mentioned, Hugh Bonneville excelled in his role of a shrewd, mean, heartless "villain," under the guise of a calm, but indifferent gentleman. Romola Garai and Jodhi May were perfect in their roles, and Hugh Dancy was superb in his slight reserve and humility, matching the character in the book. Edward Fox was on the mark in his supporting role, and all the rest of the cast were terrific.

My rating is down one point from a 10 only because of the slight disjointedness in the film. Others have commented on the appearance of two films together, and the difficulty of interweaving them. It wasn't a distraction, but it was noticeable – as though the script should have given us smoother connections between stories. But this is a tremendous film and most enjoyable foray into Victorian England.

I have to give Eliot kudos for one more thing that no one else seemed to comment on. That was the dialog around the table during the Jewish meal. Mordecai said that the Jews would not reach an end to their low esteem until they had a land of their own – in the eastern Mediterranean. What great foresight by a writer 75 years before the worldwide emigration of Jews to the Holy Land after World War II, and the establishment of modern Israel in the late 1940s.

I compliment the BBC for putting Eliot's great books on film, starting in the 1990s. Anglophiles and all of us who enjoy great movies and stories, will cherish these films for years to come. They are a great way to expose the young generation of today with some of the great literature and history of 19th century England.

The world would indeed have loved to have more of Eliot, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope and Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson), even though most lived a little to a lot longer than the average age of life expectancy at the time. In 1850, that was 40 for males and 42 for females. Trollope (1815-1882) lived to be 67; Eliot (1819-1880) lived to be 61; and Carroll (1822-1898) was 66 when he died. Dickens also beat the average age of death, living to 58 from 1812-1870. But Austen (1775-1817) and Bronte (1816-1855), lived to only 42 and 39, respectively.
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