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Archive for the ‘George Eliot’ Category

There was an article in the Independent newspaper here in the UK a few days ago  about the forthcoming movie of George Eliot’s Middlemarch, supposed to be due for release in 2010. Apparently Focus Features, which has made quite a lot of costume dramas including the most recent Pride and Prejudice and Gosford Park, is now on board, and it looks as if Sam Mendes is going to direct although Martin Scorsese had seemed interested too.

Andrew Davies is also said to have completed his script…  so it sounds as if it is all going to happen, although there’s no casting news as yet as far as I’m aware.  I’m not sure how a movie from such a huge book can possibly match the 1994 mini-series which I reviewed on this blog a little while ago, but I’ll still be very interested to see it, and just hope Davies’ script isn’t messed around with as much as it apparently was for the disappointing (in my opinion!) remake of Brideshead Revisited.

Also, very welcome news, the article says there is now a lot of interest in further movie costume dramas because of the good reaction Jane Campion’s Bright Star got at Cannes. Since period dramas on TV seem to be an endangered species at the moment,  I’d love to see the movie studios stepping in and making more of them for the big screen.

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After watching the Andrew Davies version of Middlemarch, I was keen to see his other major George Eliot adaptation, Daniel Deronda. Unfortunately, as with so many of the other films I keep writing about, it isn’t available on DVD in region 2 –though  it used to be, and I’m using the sleeve of the deleted DVD as an illustration since I prefer it to the region 1 sleeve. So, once again, I had to buy on import.

DanielDerondasleeve2Watching this not so long after Middlemarch, it struck me just how many similarities there are between the two dramas, and, of course, also between the two source novels. Both have a heroine and a hero who are not romantically destined for one another, but who become friends and whose stories sometimes counterpoint one another.  Both also show the central characters constantly hemmed in and pressured by other people’s expectations.

In Daniel Deronda, Daniel and Gwendolen meet in the series’ opening scene, at the casino in Monte Carlo, and, looking at this beautiful young couple, you might well think they are going to end up together – but, in fact, their stories are about to fork off in very different directions, only occasionally intertwining.

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Continuing my George Eliot theme, in the last few weeks I re-watched the most recent BBC production of The Mill on the Floss, starring Emily Watson as Maggie Tulliver. I know there is also an older (1978) mini-series, and I’d eventually like to see this too to compare the two, but that one is yet another of the productions only available in region 1, so not available here in the UK for rental.

Emily Watson and Ifan Meredith as Maggie and Tom

Emily Watson and Ifan Meredith as Maggie and Tom

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After enjoying a repeat viewing of the 1995 Pride and Prejudice, I decided to re-watch another major Andrew Davies adaptation from around the same period . This time I went for the BBC’s six-episode version of George Eliot’s Middlemarch, made the previous year, with a superb  cast,  headed by Juliet Aubrey and Rufus Sewell… though Robert Hardy actually gives my favourite performance.

Rufus Sewell, Juliet Aubrey and Robert Hardy

Rufus Sewell, Juliet Aubrey and Robert Hardy

This is another production which was originally shown when my children were very young and so I almost certainly failed to take it in properly at the time. Watching it again now, I found myself full of admiration for it, and think it is every bit as good as the Davies P&P – dare I say, maybe even better. It’s been a long while since I’ve read Middlemarch, so  I can’t comment in any detail on how near the adaptation is to the novel, although clearly, with such a long book, large chunks are bound to have been lost or condensed into smaller scenes or sequences of dialogue. In any case, I do think this mini-series, directed by Anthony Page,  is a complex work of art in its own right, creating a powerful picture of the tensions and rivalries within a small community, and within two marriages. 
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The 1991 TV production of George Eliot’s Adam Bede,  a tale set in the late 18th century, is one of many costume dramas only available on region 1 DVDs.  Fortunately for me, though, it was shown over here in the UK on satellite TV station TCM, so I was able to record it from there rather than forking out for it on import.

adambede11The film has a fine cast, headed by Iain Glen in the title role as Adam and Patsy Kensit as Hetty Sorrel. Glen was  then young and handsome with a lot of wavy hair, and would surely look almost unrecognisable to anyone who only knows him from his recent starring role in a very different costume drama, Channel 4’s City of Vice. Kensit, a well-known film and TV actress in Britain,  had long dark hair rather than her familiar blonde locks, and to me looked somehow a little as I imagine Hardy’s Tess, especially in a glimpse of her eating strawberries seductively. (more…)

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