The tragic tale of Maggie Tulliver, the miller's daughter, who defies her embittered brother in standing by the man she loves - shocking the stifling society in which she lives - in an attempt to pursue her blighted dreams.
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18th-century England and Ireland viewed through the eyes of four beautiful high-born sisters - Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox, great-granddaughters of a king, daughters of a cabinet minister, and wives of politicians and peers.
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Peggy Ann Wood
Set in 19th century Lincolnshire, the story centers on Maggie Tulliver (Georgia Slowe). Headstrong and undisciplined, she loves her brother Tom (Jonathan Scott-Taylor), but he has his doubts about her. Frankly, he finds his sister exasperating. An uptight, ambitious young man, Tom can't understand why she won't act like a proper young lady. While he's off at boarding school, for instance, she forgets to feed his rabbits and they die. Well-mannered cousin Lucy Deane (Moira Durbridge) is a mutual friend and peacemaker between the two. Over the years, Phillip Wakem (Anton Lesser), another neighbor, will also enter their orbit. Alas, Mr. Tulliver (Ray Smith) and Lawyer Wakem (Philip Locke) are sworn enemies. More studious than her brother (now played by Christopher Blake), teenaged Maggie (Pippa Guard) is drawn to the bright, if hunchbacked Phillip, but her ardor doesn't run as deep as his. Either way, Tom doesn't approve - nor, as it turns out, does Mr. Wakem. Further, as the fortunes of... Written by
Kathleen C. Fennessy
Every once in a while, a reader will write to me complaining about some of my comments focusing too much on narrative structure, and ignoring the direct emotional connection with the story. This is largely the intent of my comments, to remark on how stories are told. I'm convinced that a new vocabulary for storytelling is evolving now, and its highly introspective, referencing the storytelling in the story.
Lots of commentors will talk about whether the story has juice, connection, power. I want to delve into why, and what might be part of a toolbox if you want to make powerful stories.
Hardly anything could be more fun than to do this with films of old books, especially novels that themselves were at the edge of emergence in a massive advance in storyforms. This is.
Eliot is interesting. She's after Austen, who introduced introspective irony and conflated the humor of surrounding society (in her case class structure) with human emotions. The Bronte sisters in different ways inserted raw passion into this vessel. Eliot was interested in both but was more of a technician, worrying about the design of the vessel, the conveyor of emotional impact. If she were alive today, she'd be thinking about quantum logic and rivers of time. She might be among the most powerful souls weaving the world.
But she's not; she's frozen in her time, but still a bit magical. And in this book we have all sorts of contrived devices that seem not so: legal and sibling contests, inevitability of love and river, honesty in milling selves.
So. Along comes TeeVee, that great grinder of imagination and they do what they think is merely dramatizing, a sort of adding pictures to text. As with most BBC efforts, it is massively incompetent because it misunderstands the material. Somehow it assumes that if you retain events and dialog you convey the soul of the thing. But in this case, the soul is as much in the container; the skin, the shape, the face.
There isn't the slightest nod to structure, excepting the necessity to chunk it into half hour pieces with each piece having a logical pause. One or two actors actually have some competence, and the encounters among the four sisters has good timing. But unless you simply want to tread water in the sea of imagination, stay away.
Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
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