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Jealousy and suspicion haunt the novel and the film
"He Knew He Was Right" (2004) is a BBC TV mini-series directed by Tom Vaughan. It's an accurate transition to film of a novel by Anthony Trollope.
Louis Trevelyan (Oliver Dimsdale) marries Emily Rowley (Laura Fraser) and takes her to London. They are extraordinarily happy until Colonel Osborne, Emily's godfather, (Bill Nighy) begins daily visits to Emily. Her husband is jealous, which is reasonable enough in the context of the film. However, he makes the serious mistake of forbidding her to see Osborne.
Emily is high-spirited, and refuses this demand, and matters spiral down from there. Scholars have written that the plot is a reflection of Shakespeare's "Othello." Of course, the central theme of "Othello" is jealousy, but, to me, that's where the resemblance ends. Remember that the character Othello is an outsider. Louis Trevelyan is wealthy, and he moves smoothly in London society. I think the closer parallel is to Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale." In "The Winter's Tale," King Leontes has a beautiful, loving, virtuous wife, but he becomes suspicious of her fidelity. There's no Iago to ferment suspicion--it just arises. In both Shakespeare and Trollope, the unfounded suspicion brings about terrible consequences.
The major plot of "He Knew He Was Right" is, indeed, tragic. However, Trollope has brought us four sub-plots, all involving true love that is initially thwarted. (Well, I'm not sure about how true the love is in one of the sub-plots, but there's plenty of thwarting involved.)
As always, the BBC has given us fine production values, and an excellent supporting cast. Oliver Dimsdale does a fine job as Louis Trevelyan. Laura Fraser is brilliant as Emily Trevelyan. The plot depends on her to be loving, virtuous, stubborn, and forgiving, and she manages to portray all these qualities perfectly. The camera loves her, and it's obvious that director Vaughan is aware of this. He has chosen to let her beautiful dark eyes convey to us what she is thinking and feeling. It was a superb casting choice. It's worth seeing "He Knew He Was Right" just to watch a talented actor play the part that's perfect for her.
Because this BBC mini-series was made for TV, it works well on the small screen. Find a way to see it. You'll be glad you did.
P.S. At certain key moments in the movie, characters turn to us and tell us what they are thinking. It's an interesting device at first, but ultimately I found it annoying. Luckily, these moments of direct communication from the character to the audience become less frequent as the film progresses.
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