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The previous posters I feel are nit picking at what is one of the most glorious productions I have enjoyed in many years. Not having read the books from which the series is taken, I came to it not knowing what to expect. It is beautiful, glowing with a golden warmth, a lyrical love poem to the people and village life of England just over a century ago, making it hard to return to daily life without regret. It reminds me almost of Laurie lee's Cider with Rosie, the love with which this time and people are conveyed, the richness, glowing like late afternoon sunshine seeps into our drawing rooms as we watch and makes one long for a time and place long vanished. The heart which has been put into this production, into the performances by every member of the cast and production crew, the love portrayed, I can't find a better word for it, warms one, melting away the chill of 21st century living. The poor not dirty enough some say?! Perhaps it will surprise some to know that the poor of that time, as now, had their pride and kept as clean as circumstances would allow, which meant at least clean looking. The other users comments are churlish, this is the most lyrically beautiful, heart warming & charming series I have ever seen. The humanity and touching wisdom in the way characters are portrayed, slowing revealing the reasons for their behaviour are truly moving. Everyone involved in this production should be cheered to the rafters and begged for an encore. I hope, as do all I know also, that the screenwriters will be asked to take the series on from where the books end, and never stop giving us new tales of this golden idyll, where the community sheltered those living within it's boundaries, as an extended family does, as opposed to our dislocated times. If you watch this series, you will be fully rewarded, your only regret will be that you can't enter the screen and stay forever in Candleford. The performances by everyone are rich with humanity, pathos, comedy and utterly stunning. I have grown to love everyone that lives there and everything about Candleford, so will you. It is a joy & does one good.
After Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre and this winter's Cranford, I
thought that the BBC couldn't do any better: that it had reached its
peak. Boy, was I wrong. I was apprehensive about watching Lark Rise
because of this, but those doubt were removed immediately as I fell in
love with all the characters, especially Julia Sawalha, who surpasses
herself, obviously moving away from her most famous role as Lydia
Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, and she does so delightfully!
The hamlet of Lark Rise is so sleepy, and yet just as enthralling as the 'modern' town of Candleford. All the little stories within each episode, as well as those expanding throughout the entire series, make it a joy to watch, and an awesome way to pass the evening and forget all of one's woes. In producing two enchanting series so close to one another, the BBC has certainly surpassed itself.
I have to disagree with the reviewer who says this was 'dreadful'. Film
and television adaptations of ANY novel inevitably have to be stylised.
I found the performances excellent, and have to pick our Julia Sawhala,
unrecognisable from here Saffy days, and her presentation of the
dialogue was a wonderful balance of sincerity, wit, warmth and pathos.
I might agree that Dawn French was 'larger than life' but along with Liz Smith the presence of these 2 actors in the cast gave it instant familiarity.
Now, 'dire dialogue'? I don't think so, we were ROARING at the sisters Pearl and Ruby, teary-eyed at the scenes of 'Twister', and watched EVERY moment of the 10 episodes.
Visually, INCREDIBLE, beautiful sets shot carefully and I felt it WAS 1850! I REALLY hope the BBC are planning a second third, fourth and FIFTH series ! THAT is how GOOD it is.
As the BBC replied to the critic 'What Lark Rise to Candleford does do very well is to draw in an audience who normally wouldn't watch this sort of programme.' It certainly drew me in ~ I will now read the books, so YES it's helping bring literature to a TV audience! My vote? 9 out of 10.
I have not read the books and so do not know how true it is to them but as a drama in itself i think that it is brilliant! There are many story lines yet they all link into one, the acting is superb and hilarious, an extremely worthwhile period drama and I am very pleased to say that my cousins who are 15 and 17 year old males, are absolutely obsessed and I am very pleased that it is appealing to such a wide range of people and educating them. Who knows, we could have them watching Jane Austen next!!!!!!!! We record it on a Sunday night and as we do not have any spare evenings until Friday night to watch it, I am practically tearing my hair to see what happens! I love this and don't want it to end!
As someone who "reads lots of books and is not a member of the Dawn
French fan club" (as per previous comment from NIFOC2005), I would like
to say how much I enjoy this production.
I have not read the books it is based but I can understand that some people might not find it a faithful production, but then again how many TV series based on books are that faithful! It would be impossible to please everybody.
What this series is however, is beautifully made with wonderful actors and wonderful Sunday night viewing. It is not complicated but is very addictive. Week by week you seem to grow to love the characters and the places more. It reminds me in a funny way of "Darling Buds of May" with its gentle pace and lovely scenery and a glimpse of a different bygone era, which although it probably never existed it is still nice to watch and imagine it did. And anything with the lovely Brendan Coyle in gets my vote!
I am really enjoying this series and do not want it to end, I believe the BBC are commissioning another series thank god. At last something to enjoy and look forward to on a Sunday night. Julia Sawahla is excellent and i really feel for her character and i hope she will be in the next series as it won't be the same. I have preordered the series from amazon and and i cannot not wait to receive it, The acting from all involved is brilliant right down to Dawn French. The set is Magnificent it almost makes you want to go back in time, the costumes especially that of the Pratt sisters are magnificent i love the way they wear the same clothes nearly all the time. Excellent and Delightful show.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A couple of other reviewers have complained about this series not being
faithful to Flora Thompson's books - thank god for that, is all I can
say. The books were among the most dreary, plodding tales I have ever
read, and they left me depressed for days. I couldn't see the bucolic
charm for all the squalid poverty and starving.
However, the series has been a pleasant surprise. I watched a few minutes of the first episode because I'm a big Julia Sawalha fan, and couldn't believe how she managed to inject a huge dose of humor and likability into the whole thing. Plus I think the 'vignette' approach which made the books so boring actually makes the series quite good - each episode can focus on one or two of the little anecdotes of the story.
There's no question they've sanitized the visuals - I'm quite certain that the 'real' Lark Rise people didn't have actual staircases in their houses, or much in the way of pictures on the walls (in fact I seem to recall the books making it clear that the houses had ladders to lofts, a paucity of candles, and no gas lamps, as they do in the TV show). And people have more teeth than they probably did in real life.
But who wants to see toothless people living in dark, dank sheds, anyway? I do agree that the Dawn French character is misplaced and/or overdone - I know she's supposed to be a quite literal representation of the big-heartedness of the cheerful poor person, but she ends up seeming an awful lot like the nut-job she plays in Jam and Jerusalem, and ultimately just an example of the stereotype of how stupidity, irresponsibility and poverty are inextricable.
If you don't like costume drama, this isn't going to change your mind. But it's an engaging adaptation of a singularly unengaging book, and if you've ever liked Julia Sawalha in anything, you should give this a try.
I get so tired of modern drama based around dark, cynical, unpleasant
characters. Lark Rise to Candleford is so different. The characters in
this little community manage to rise above their conflicts, see past
each others' foibles, and support and love each other.
The program's good-heartedness is reinforced by a gorgeous soundtrack, beautiful camera work, amazing sets, scenery, and costumes, fine directing, and a rich cast of interesting characters.
Granted, it's a fairy tale, but it's a mighty pleasant one. And after all, what's so bad about with having one show on television that actually leaves you feeling better about people?
This is my first comment in this forum. I think the casting was very
well done. I am torn as to whether it tops Cranford. I have to admit I
have a soft spot for Cranford.
I believe the casting of Twister and Queenie reminds me so much of my grandparents. They were well casted together. Twister had me in stitches in many scenes. While Dawn French was a little over the top I believe it to be her character anyway so it did not take much away from the series.
Julia was perfect for the part she did very well with all her scenes. Do not think it was disappointing at all.
The landscape was "extraordinary"...without a doubt a rival to many of the great landscapes in North and South, Cranford and wives daughters.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Am a U.S.viewer, watching Series 1 on an all-region DVD player. I
ordered this series as something my elderly mother might enjoy and have
become engrossed myself. Sounding initially like a British variant on
LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, CANDLEFORD turns out to be a rich
spectacle which discovers complexities in itself after pleasant but
lightweight opening installments and by episode 4 becomes something
altogether finer (I've seen only 1-7 so far). I think it not entirely
accidental that this same fourth episode engineers a lengthy hiatus for
LARK SPUR's most egregious blemish, the already oft-slammed Dawn French
as the hamlet's debtor-reprobate. French isn't distractingly familiar
in the U.S. but her lazy anachronistic performance, straight out of the
classic "Coarse Acting" handbook, is an irritant just the same. Might
as well note the other flaws that persist, noted in the more critical
IMDb critiques: the usual over-explicit music; some wobbly continuity
from one episode to the next (particularly notable in the lack of
carryover after the milliner-sisters' traumatic reunion with their
father); the disregard for the 18 mile separation of communities so
forcefully laid-out in episode 1 and subsequently ignored; and, yes,
the absence of squalor. Can't comment on the adaptation's disregard for
the source-book since I haven't read it.
But lordy, how much else excels! The writing, encompassing parlor-protocol and pub-chatter, has Dickensian swagger. If LARK SPUR's creators disembarked from the original text, they found their independent stride within a few traversals of their 20-or-so characters. Note how the Welsh postman, an evangelical stereotype and already tiresome within the first hour, in Episode 5 has a spiritual crisis, conveyed in a layman-sermon whose earnestness emits a skittering undertone of near-madness (wonderfully performed by Mark Heap). The porcelain lady-of-the-manor of Eps. 1-2 by 6-7 emerges as a tragic heroine. Twister, Lark Spur's aged comic layabout and scrounger, in Episode 6 has recall of a long-dead sister he imagines come back to haunt him in scenes as rapturously sad and true to senescent remorse as any great tragic work (Karl Johnson, an actor I've never noted before, is extraordinary). More than simply showcasing the series' mostly wonderful cast, the collective of directors grows increasingly muscular in their framing of scenes as LARK SPUR progresses: a complex moment in Ep. 7, in which the squire's wife watches her husband across the street and submits to the goading of shopwomen she dislikes, imagining the worst, is shot with an economic forcefulness that moots distinctions between TV and cinematic filming. Nothing "twee" about craft of that order-- nor about the series itself, once past its establishing episodes.
Yet subtleties noted here are secondary to something LARK SPUR has in fixed place from the start: Julia Sawalha's post-mistress, and her rapport with lifetime friend and village squire Ben Miles, an attenuated near-romance that in abstract sounds an embarrassment-- two terrific actors who appear to realize they have found gorgeous grown-up roles in the unlikeliest of projects, and like the rest of the production's cast/crew, perform as if BBC's calculations about "Sunday night programing" wholly underestimated their work. I cannot push these Reg. 2 programs at friends, who haven't the equipment to play them, and so I can only enthuse here. This is beautiful serial television.
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