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Posts Tagged ‘Richard E Grant’

I’ve just got back from a week’s holiday near Stratford upon Avon. While staying there, I was lucky enough to see two excellent RSC productions, of The Winter’s Tale and As You Like It – and, keeping up the Shakespearean theme, also watched a DVD of Trevor Nunn’s movie of Twelfth Night.  This must be one of my favourites out of the modern films of Shakespeare that I’ve seen, and it would be interesting to know how much is taken from Nunn’s stage productions.

Nunn’s version of Illyria looks visually sumptuous, with turbulent Cornish seascapes and beautiful countryside, while the costumes seem vaguely Victorian rather than Elizabethan. The music, by Sean Davey, adds to the haunting atmosphere. I was surprised at the way the film starts with the play’s “back story”, of the shipwreck – and the startling glimpse of Steven Mackintosh as Sebastian and Imogen Stubbs as Viola both dressed as women, taking part in an on-board entertainment. This seems to have been included to emphasise the play’s element of cross-dressing and to balance against the scene near the end where the two are seen both dressed identically as men.

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Richard E Grant as the Pimpernel in disguise

Sorry for being a bit slow in getting round to writing something about the second season of The Scarlet Pimpernel starring Richard E Grant.

I won’t write about this in as much detail as I did about the first season, which I think is better – but did want to say that I think it is worth watching, and the first episode of the second season, in particular, is probably my favourite out of the whole series.

The first series largely centres on the love triangle between Sir Percy Blakeney (Grant), his wife Marguerite (Elizabeth McGovern) and her ex-lover, now a spy for Robespierre, Chauvelin (Martin Shaw), who is Blakeney’s arch-enemy. However, in the second series both Shaw and McGovern are out of the cast – I don’t know what the reasons for this were but would guess that Shaw, at least, had other commitments – and Grant pretty well has to carry the series on his own. Ronan Vibert’s role as Robespierre is stepped up so that he becomes the main villain of the piece, and John McEnery is brought in as Sir William Wetherby, a new older sidekick for Percy. Both of these are fine actors and Vibert in particular is downright chilling as Robespierre – but  I must say that I missed both Marguerite and Chauvelin, and felt losing both these central characters together was a real shame, taking away from the romance and tension.

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I’ve now finished watching the BBC adaptation of The Scarlet Pimpernel, which was shown as two three-part seasons during 1999 and 2000, and has just been repeated here on BBC4. I started off intending to write just one posting about both seasons, but it is getting rather long, as I keep thinking of more to say, so I’ll make this one just about series one, and come back for part two in the next few days.

I gather this adaptation is controversial among diehard fans of the original books by Baroness Emmuska Orczy, for being “untrue” to the novels. However, I think it is a brilliant piece of television in its own right. Richard E Grant gives a dazzling performance as Sir Percy Blakeney/the Pimpernel, while Elizabeth McGovern and Martin Shaw are great too as Marguerite and  Chauvelin. I do also like the 1982 film starring Anthony Andrews, but this version  may just be my favourite. Although I enjoyed the books as a teenager, I haven’t reread them in many years – but the atmosphere of dashing romance, glamour and danger remains with me. I think that swashbuckling spirit is re-created in this series, however much the plot details are changed, together with a sense of the darkness underlying it all.

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Dickens’ Christmas classic must be one of the most -adapted literary works, with a bewildering range of versions from silent films to The Muppet Christmas Carol and various modernisations, some more successful than others. (I’m especially fond of the Bill Murray movie Scrooged.) 

Patrick Stewart

Patrick Stewart as Scrooge and Dominic West as Fred

Over the last few years, it’s become a tradition in my household to watch the TV film starring Patrick Stewart, so I thought I’d write a little bit about it for this new blog – and wish a happy Christmas to anyone reading along .

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