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Bleak House (2005)

Gillian Anderson , Alun Armstrong  |  NR |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (795 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Gillian Anderson, Alun Armstrong, Charlie Brooks
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Warner
  • DVD Release Date: February 28, 2006
  • Run Time: 510 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (795 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000CEXG0U
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,752 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Bleak House" on IMDb

Special Features

  • The 15-episode series on three discs

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Andrew Davies isn't much of household name in the U.S., but he's the king of the BBC mini-series. His skillfully adapted scripts for Pride & Prejudice (the beloved Colin Firth version) and many, many more are peerless examples of classic novels done right--cunningly edited and shaped to let all the rich emotion and sharp intelligence spill over with zip and vigor. Bleak House is no exception; it's one of the best Dickens adaptations to date. The mini-series form allows Dickens' panoramic view, brimming with eccentric characters and complex turns of plot, to sprawl out without losing an iota of suspense or momentum. Two innocent young orphans (Patrick Kennedy and Carey Mulligan) are the potential heirs to a fortune, but their fates are snarled in a monumental legal battle known as Jarndyce and Jarndyce. But the heart of the story is another orphan, Esther Summerson (Anna Maxwell Martin), whose mysterious parentage proves to be intertwined with the fate of the Jarndyce wards and the aloof Lady Dedlock (Gillian Anderson, The X-Files). Dickens' story twines through an excoriating vision of the legal system to heartbreaking domestic drama to a murder investigation to near-Gothic horror, all broken into utterly delicious half-hour segments (after the hour-long opening episode). Martin is utterly beguiling, homely at one moment and luminous the next; Anderson's grippingly eerie and brittle performance will delight her fans. But to single out anyone seems absurd, because every character--from the vicious lawyer Tulkinghorn (Charles Dance, White Mischief) to the foppish parasite Skimpole (Nathaniel Parker, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries) to the simpering clerk Guppy (Burn Gorman)--is intricately drawn, all hitting a mesmerizing balance between caricature and stark emotional honesty. Bleak House demonstrates that humor, pathos, and social criticism can all be contained in one wonderfully entertaining package. --Bret Fetzer

Product Description

Bleak House

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
244 of 256 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Actually better than the earlier version February 14, 2006
Format:DVD
For once, I am happy to find a remake of a fine old Masterpiece Theatre offering that is as good as the original. "Bleak House" is currently available on an DVD with Diana Rigg as the most familiar name; and except for some incomprehensible line readings by a young character named Joe, it is a very good account of the Dickens novel. Having already appeared on Public Television, the remake has Gillian Anderson (yes, the one from "X-Files") as Lady Dedlock, and a cast of 80 speaking roles, many of which are played by actors that will send you searching the cast listings that go by too quickly at the end of each episode.

The eight parts will be shown so that the first and last will run two hours and the four in between an hour each. I found the complex plot actually easier to follow in this version than I did in the earlier one. And while I prefer Rigg to Anderson, I think I can easily recommend this new adaptation over the other.

The story--lawyers will hate it--involves the infamous Court of Chancery in which disputes over estates can be buried for years until the lawyers' fees make further legalizing unnecessary. Against this background, the case of Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce being a major part of it, we have the story of John Jarndyce (Denis Lawson), his ward Ada (Carey Mulligan), her companion Esther (Anna Maxwell Martin), and Ada's beloved Richard (Patrick Kennedy).

The latter becomes obsessed with the case, while Esther becomes involved in the mysterious past of Lady Dedlock, who happens to recognize the handwriting on some legal documents delivered by the utterly immoral family solicitor Tulkinghorn (Charles Dance). I will not reveal any more of the plot, lest it spoil your enjoyment.
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89 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deadlock. Debtor's Prison. Dickens! February 20, 2006
Format:DVD
A simply magnificent production of Dickens. Read the Amazon editorial review above, I agree with all of it.

Dickens can be difficult to translate to film. His cartoonish drawings of his characters, both literal and literary, are the stuff of political lampoon. And he IS interested in politics; the politics of class, culture, the legal system, and how his characters are trapped in them, by situation, and by their own human choices. His characters and story lines are so intricate that they must have been manna for the readers of his (no tv, no film) time period, but they can sometimes be dry and dull for a modern audience.

Enter the skillfull writing of THE MASTER ADAPTOR Andrew Davies, and a production that careens and slams prison doors from one story to another, and we are briskly carried along... in this story of secrets, blackmail, and the endless wait for the legal system to do... something... anything.

As with most BBC casting, it is excellent... every single character not only LOOKS as they should, but can really act. Nice to see Gillian Anderson break through and prove that yes, american actresses really CAN run with the best of them, if they get the chance to. Anna Maxwell Martin as our lead protagonist is simply wonderful. She has the kind of looks that we do not get to see in the hollywood casting system. Her character does not rely on her appearance, because she knows she can not, but she becomes so dear to us, we care deeply about her, and her complexity and calm in the midst of chaos reveal her true inner beauty. Through her we see the souls of others as they respond to her.
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163 of 182 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Victorian Mystery January 23, 2006
Format:DVD
I caught the first two hours of this adaptation of Dickens Bleak House on Masterpiece Theatre on Sunday night and I was immediately hooked. If you love dark Victorian mysteries this is a must see. I remember hearing promos for the show stating its starring Gillian Anderson but I thought it was some English actress with the same name as Scully from the X-files. What a shock when I realized I watched Scully for I did not realize it at the time it was her. Ms. Anderson becomes Lady Dedlock replacing her FBI professional pant suits outfits for a Victorian frock. Although common elements to both characters are repressed emotions and icy personalities. I have not read the novel but the show is emphasizing the mystery aspects of the story with Lady Dedlock trying to hide a secret from her past, how everybody's fate is somehow bound into the Jarndyce case over disputed wills and what role if any Esther plays in all of this. Also, the series focuses a sharp eye on the byzantine legal world of Victorian England that makes the US legal system seem the epitome of efficiency. Charles Dance is great as the ruthless barrister Tulkinghorn who sets his sights on uncovering Lady Dedlock's secret. Anne Maxwell Martin is great as the innocent and virtuous Esther Summerson. Besides Ms. Anderson some might recognize Mr. Dance who has seen roles in various movies and TV series including the villain in the Eddie Murphy Buddhist action-adventure movie The Golden Child, and Denis Lawson, who plays the benevolent John Jarndyce, was Wedge Antilles in the original Star Wars movies. Like any Dickens novel this TV series is filled with interesting often eccentric secondary characters from the young law clerk Mr. Guppy to Miss Flite. Read more ›
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More than platonic? Probably not.
I quite agree with you. It is obvious that Lady Dedlock, though having not verbalized it, is aching for the daughter she misses and manifests that longing by the way she interacts with Rosa.
Mar 25, 2009 by Zarah Mayes-Horowitz |  See all 3 posts
One of the 3 disks went wonky! Be the first to reply
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