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.
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
One of the weaker adaptations of the George Eliot Collection but still above decent
As with all George Eliot's writing Mill on the Floss is well worth the read. It is not quite complex or layered as Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda but the characterisation is still rich, the conflicts and social commentary sharply observed and the emotions high. Although it is the book from Eliot that is adapted the most(I admit that I've yet to see the other versions, have heard a lot of good things about the 1997 version), Mill on the Floss is still very difficult to adapt. This adaptation is one of the weaker ones in the collection, the weakest being Adam Bede(still quite good) and the best being Middlemarch(which is outstanding) but does a respectable job, it is long(necessary) and wisely takes its time telling the story. In that regard it doesn't always work, it can lack momentum and does drag, at the same time though because there are omissions the storytelling also can feel rushed and not always flowing as it ought to in a jumpy sense. You do miss the scene where Lucy visits Maggie after Maggie's aborted elopement, one of the book's most poignant moments. And John Moulder Brown is very annoying as Stephen, the character is a very shallow one in the first place but that and Stephen's conceit are taken to extremities here and generally you don't just get what anyone sees in him. Him aside, this adaptation is very well-acted if perhaps somewhat stagy for some.
Anton Lesser really stood out, he does wonderfully with the role and is both grotesque and affecting making it easy for us to be repulsed by him as well as pitying him. Ray Smith is nobly powerful, Lucy is appropriately vivacious and Judy Cornwell is every bit as sympathetic. Christopher Blake portrays Tom's arrogance very well and Maggie is played with spirit and delicacy. The children do competently match their adult counterparts. The characters and their relationships and conflicts(Maggie and Tom's especially, and Maggie, Mill on the Floss' central character is still very complex) are well realised, these are characters that are not black and white but ones with strengths and flaws(always a strong point with Eliot). The story does have great emotional impact, especially the ending, the romance between Maggie and Tom very touching, the rivalry between the Wakams and Tullivers having some intensity and Mr Tulliver shows genuine love for his family. While the spirit of the book is still there, if not as well-paced or as cohesive as it could have been. The script respects Eliot's style and while it takes its time to tell the story there is a certain tautness as well meaning that it doesn't feel overly padded. The music is unobtrusive, sensitive and haunting as well as sympathetic to the drama and the adaptation is well-made. It's darker and more soft-grained than the other four adaptations in the collection but just as atmospheric and evocative. The attention to detail is done in a way that is not too rich-looking or bleak and the scenery is beautiful. All in all, decent as an adaptation and on its own but falls short at the same time. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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