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Archive for March, 2010

Just passing on a couple of pieces of costume drama news. First off, the bad news is that the BBC is reportedly axing yet another of its few remaining period dramas, Casualty 1906/07/09. The Daily Telegraph newspaper had a report on this, quoting the main star of the series, Cherie Lunghi, who says the BBC is now more interested in making reality shows. I haven’t actually seen this series, but had heard good things about it so am disappointed it is being scrapped.

However, as one period drama bites the dust, another one is getting a second series. Land Girls, set in the Second World War, is set to return. I watched and reviewed the first series, which I found rather soapy although it did have some good moments, and it starred Nathaniel Parker, who is one of my favourites, although sadly he was written out and won’t be in the second series.

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Dame Judi Dench, Lisa Dillon and Dame Eileen Atkins as Miss Matty, Mary Smith and Miss Jenkyns.

First of all, sorry to have been silent – I’ve been busy again, but have been watching costume dramas even though I haven’t been writing about them! Elizabeth Gaskell is one of my favourite 19th-century authors and I’m now planning to have a season on my blog about adaptations of her work, starting with Cranford and its sequel and then going on to North and South and Wives and Daughters.

There were also 1970s adaptations of all these books, which I would love to compare with the more recent versions, as well as a 1964 Mary Barton and a 1982 version of her novella Cousin Phillis – but sadly none of these are ever repeated or available on video/DVD, so it seems unlikely I’ll get the chance to see them unless the BBC starts delving into its archives.

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Liesel Matthews as Sara Crewe in 'A Little Princess'

Frances Hodgson Burnett was one of my favourite writers as a child, and I read both A Little Princess and A Secret Garden countless times.  There have been many fine movie and TV adaptations of her work, but Alfonso Cuaron’s visually sumptuous version of A Little Princess has to be among the  best. I watched it a couple of times in close succession on satellite TV since setting up this blog, meaning to write a full review, but, once again, time got away from me, and this will be a short belated piece – though I did get around to gathering together some lovely stills. My favourite is the picture I’ve put at the top of this posting, of Liesel Matthews as Sara Crewe dreaming over a book in the window – a pose which really gets the essence of the character.

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Scarlett Johansson in Girl with a Pearl Earring

With Colin Firth nominated for an Oscar tonight, I’m reminded that I’ve been meaning to write something about one of my favourite films of his – Girl With a Pearl Earring, directed by Peter Webber. I’ve actually watched it twice since starting this blog, but failed each time to write a full review, and now my memories have faded slightly again. So this will just be a short posting about a couple of the main points which struck me, and an excuse to post pictures .

For me this is one of the most breathtaking historical dramas to watch, with the colour, lighting, costumes and Eduardo Serra’s cinematography working together to create the atmosphere of the 17th-century Dutch paintings by artists like Vermeer perfectly. I have read and liked Tracy Chevalier’s novel, but this is one where the adaptation appeals to me and sticks in my memory more than the book. I first saw it at the cinema  – since then I’ve seen it on TV and the effects still work very well, but it was best on the big screen.

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