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|Index||24 reviews in total|
If you thought that North and South 2004, Bleak House 2005 and Jane
Eyre 2006 were heroic steps forward in period adaptation you are
absolutely going to adore this. I'm hoping, on the strength of the
first episode, that we may be about to ascend new heights.
Liberties are taken. The material is being reinterpreted for the screen with a dashing disrespect for fidelity that is bound to offend those critics who watch screen adaptations with their Everyman edition on their knee but what Thomas has done here is bring the spirit of Gaskell and the humour of the age (specifically northern humour), magnificently to life.
Eileen Atkins' performance alone will carry this series to every Award ceremony worthy of attention but there is so much more you may be left agape with wonder or clapping your hands with glee at the stories surrounding Cranford's womenfolk, many condemned to spinsterhood by the Napoleonic Wars. And there's much more still to come.
You won't see the novel reassembled piece by piece, but what you'll get instead is a mordant, hilarious, moving, masterpiece of the art of adaptation and a brilliant cast extracting every last every drop of juice from the fruit (sucked separately, of course).
Cranford is vibrantly alive and kicking as it never has been before. Bring on the rest. If you please.
As a typically boofheaded Aussie bloke, it is very hard to admit that i have found myself weeping like a child, during each episode. My wife and I have been keen viewers of BBC drama over a period of 25 years or so and both agree that this must be the most incredibly beautiful series that we have seen! I am humbled by the strength of the female characters and how delicately simple the plots. I can but only give all involved in this series a huge bouquet. I have never been overly impressed by Dame Judy until now. She is incredible in her role as Matti. 10 out of 10.The actress who plays Mary is also a favourite. The right mix of humour and pathos will make this a memorable series for years to come.
Not a dry eye in the house as this came to a close last night. Absolute perfection. Never has a better cast been assembled for a t.v. drama. For me, Imelda Staunton shone, with her fantastic comic timing, but they were all excellent. A departure from the usual Dickens or Austen ( which I adore) in that the plot is more episodic and less dark. There are no obvious villains and few mysteries to unravel. More of a 19th century Archers. However, the insight into the people of the time and into social history is fascinating. Some hilarious lines mixed with occasional haunting tragedy which makes you empathise with its many characters regardless of their faults. Everyone I know has been watching this and all would rate this as the best thing on t.v this year.
I cannot believe that anyone could miss this wonderful piece of work. I have just watched the final episode with tears streaming down my face! Partly due to the content and partly due to the fact that there will be no more of this feast of period drama/comedy/social comment.Not one performance has jarred not one piece of dialogue does not uplift ones heart. I cannot praise the whole thing enough (perhaps you may have noticed)!! It would be unfair to single out one of the actors for special praise as they were all so exemplary and masters of their craft. Versatility, though, was seen by Philip Glenister's part. To have seen him as the detective in Life on Mars then see him do Cranford just shows what a wealth of talent the British scene has. I want to see it again!!
Nobody does period drama better than the BBC and this one was no
exception. It is hard to find any fault with it all, fantastically shot
and all the actors (especially Judi Dench, who made me cry) were
terrific. I am growing to love Elizabeth Gaskell on the TV, after the
previous adaptations of Wives and Daughters and North and South comes
Cranford. Such a change from all the Dickens and Austen series we
usually get. What a terrific writer she was. This story in some way was
less dramatic than the other two adaptations, almost like a kind of
soap opera, full of wonderful women characters, with every actress
perfectly cast and no-one scene stealing. All in all another triumph,
Just watched the BAFTAs. Why didn't Cranford win?? It should have.
It is one of the best pieces of work I've seen in all of 2007. A juicy mixture of stars and I looked forward to every Sunday. Beautifully shot and acted and single handedly put me on to period dramas now. Ms Pole needs to come back on the screen. A real class act of a project!! Judy Dench is subtle but endearing. Someones not much actually happens and yet you wonder why on earth is it still so incredibly captivating. It's really works because everyone of the characters is beautifully played, and the story line is layered and passionate. And did I mention Ms Pole!! I am now a big fan of this actress. I LOVED HER. Don't miss this gem.
I am at heart an Austen girl, and I will admit that I find that the BBC's adaptations often far outrank any other, and Cranford was no exception. I have yet to read the books but have dropped heavy hints to Santa. The BBC has, if I'm honest disappointed me recently, but for one Cranford' quality programme I can almost forgive for everything else. Pure excellence. Cranford had me in tears for every episode, and often begging for the happy ending which given the often dark nature of the narrative was unlikely to come, and often didn't. Wonderful performances, from the Sirs and Dames, down to the youngster who played Harry Gregson, and with wonderful characterisation, which made the characters lovable and known and even gives unseen characters and histories unseen depths which are sometimes unavoidably and sadly missed in period pieces. A wonderful job. One request, may 'Cranford' never meet Hollywood, they won't be able to do it better than the BBC! Does anyone know when it comes out on DVD?
This was Austen, Dickens and a bit of George Eliot all together and then some. The bad people not quite as cruel as Dickens. Class System naturally present but not as pronounced and little to none of who has how many thousand pounds and the need for dowries as in Jane Austen. And like (Mary Ann Evans) George Eliot's epochs, decisions and choices we make have consequences. There is laughter, joy, tragedy, misunderstanding, partings, reunions, love, gained, lost, unrequited. What makes this a tour de force is the Cast. Every performance exceptional beyond words, Jewels both from the women and the men. So many from the treasure chest of British thespians female and male. It is only amazing that Dame Maggie Smith or her stellar son Toby Stephens were absent in this Royal feast of actors. All somewhat overwhelming compared to the mediocrity of performance served up from Hollywood. Of Dame Judi Dench one could wax lyrical without end. However, Dame Eileen Atkins as always profound, who has now a career of nearly 50 years, as actress, writer, creator of television and theatre productions and is so extraordinary that adjectives do not suffice. To leave any name out is an injustice but in this space necessary. Francesca Annis' performance must be mentioned not only for its perfection but for her continued beauty and ethereal quality that mesmerises and haunts the spectator. More than 30 years I have rejoiced each time I have seen her. This production is among the finest of what BBC can do. It is rich beyond measure in its script, direction, decor and costume. Visually and Intellectually a Feast.
The opportunity to watch so many of Britain's great female actors
working together in parts that allow them to demonstrate just how good
they are is one of the two immensely satisfying aspects of Cranford,
the five-part, 291-minute drama imported from Britain by way of
Masterpiece Theater. The other is the story itself -- a kind of
Austen-like tale of good manners, gossip, punctilious courtesies and
extraordinarily detailed production values. Cranford may be a genteel
and gentle soap opera, but it glows with warmth, humor and the
occasional dramatic crisis.
Cranford is a small English village, tidy and well kept. The time is the early 1840's. The village hasn't changed much over the years. The established ladies of the village plan to keep it that way. For the next 12 months of Cranford we'll see a new, young doctor come to town, the affects of a train line being built closer and closer to the village, romance and marriages, typhoid, death and poverty. We'll see why some think the lower classes should not be taught to read or write, how it really hurts to have your leg amputated, how a woman of a certain age who is not married may well expect to live a lonely life. We'll also see friendships, misunderstandings, the love for a cow and the deep comfort of accepted ways. Keep in mind that the story isn't simply a bucolic tale of a world long gone. We're going to deal with class distinctions, poverty, condescension to women, and customs that can strangle affection. There are several story lines that develop and weave around each other.
At the heart of the story are the women of Cranford, for whom gossip is a way of life. Eileen Atkins plays the elderly Miss Deborah Jenkyns, a severe woman who is not without feelings and who is the acknowledged arbiter of what is proper. Her sister, Miss Mattie Jenkyns, played by Judy Dench, is a bit scatterbrained but a warm and empathetic person. And we have Miss Pole (Imelda Staunton), a lightening transmitter of juicy information; Mrs. Forrester (Julia MacKenzie), a widow who is a bit of a ditherer but good-hearted; and Miss Jamieson (Barbara Flynn), better off than the others which she is careful to display, and more conventional, but prepared to be brought around. There is Mary Smith (Lisa Dillon), who comes to live with the Jenkyns sisters to escape a busybody stepmother and who finds more than she thought she would. Thankfully, she has a good mind and a sense of humor. And there is Lady Ludlow (Francesca Annis), the grand, aging lady in the grand estate nearby who learns to acknowledge that others may be correct, while not seeming to apologize for her class standards. What of the men? They're around, but for the most part they exist simply to provide the framework for the women's stories. Such superior actors as Michael Gambon, Jim Carter and Martin Shaw play them.
When we leave Cranford five hours after we arrived, we've smiled a lot, teared up a few times, and have come to admire these women, their capacity for friendship and their desire to keep the future from arriving too soon. If you hear the term "heartwarming," don't be put off. This program is intelligently written and is acted with extraordinary and underplayed skill.
"Cranford" is the type of drama, in writing (starts with a novel),
acting and directing that the British do so well, a period piece that
runs the viewer through the gamut of emotions -- frustration, anger,
joy, relief, etc. -- in reaction to oh-so-subtle variations of human
behavior, by illustrating the mores of the time, from quaint to
maddening by modern standards on one hand, to the human generosity
which defies them on the other.
As befit the greatest tales, there are several main characters with deftly interwoven stories here, so one must look elsewhere beyond these comments for knowledge of the characters and plot; but let me conclude by saying that "Cranford" has more HEART than any piece I've seen in quite some time. Shown as a "Masterpiece Classic" on America's PBS network, "Cranford" truly, truly, truly lived up to the Masterpiece moniker, with a capital M.
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