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Cranford: The Collection (Cranford / Return to Cranford)

209 customer reviews

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(Jan 19, 2010)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Cranford: The Collection (DVD)

Adapted from Elizabeth Gaskell's novels, the five-episode miniseries Cranford focuses on female characters in the 19th-century British town to thematically contemplate encroaching modernity in rural England. With the camera roving house to house, each drama within the grander story is constructed of scenes featuring dialogue between several gossipy ladies obsessed with moral code, romantic ideas about courtship, and social occasions. Three main characters, the ever-appropriate Deborah Jenkyns (Eileen Atkins), her sweet sister, Matilda (Judi Dench), and their younger, more savvy relative, Miss Smith (Lisa Dillon), continuously weigh in on situations, providing a dependable view when other ladies, like the nosey Miss Pole (Imelda Staunton) are too judgmental. In fine period dress, the women of Cranford remind the viewer of how little action was needed in their small-town lives to provide unceasing entertainment. The series'most intriguing aspect lies not in the ample female conversation but rather in its display of earlier technologies and ways of life. Part One, for example, quickly launches a main narrative thread that runs throughout the series, namely the arrival and assimilation of London doctor, Frank Harrison (Simon Woods), into village society. Dr. Harrison's medical practices, such as his refusal to amputate a man's arm because it's broken, are all the more radical because they are so fundamental by today's standards. In subsequent episodes, he recommends Miss Smith get spectacles to cure her headaches, and saves his love's life by cooling her fever after conservative doctor, Dr. Morgan (John Bowe), recommends the old school practice of burying her in blankets in front of a raging fire. In Part Two, Lady Ludlow (Francesca Annis) throws a garden party at her estate, treating all the women in their fancy hats to a new novelty: ice cream. This scene foreshadows Ludlow's future concern at a railroad plan involving her land that would connect Cranford to Manchester, symbolizing the ruin of this idyllic setting. In fact, fluffy and clever as some scenes are, death and rebirth assert themselves in each showing, both physically and idealistically. Part Four shows an auctioning off of a deceased man's antiques, and focuses on issues of class and women's education, as Mr. Carter teaches a peasant boy to read while his assistant fumes at her trappings as a seamstress. Part Five ushers in a new period of medical emergencies, securing Dr. Harrison's shaky position in town. In total, Cranford offers a powerful, if sentimental, look at how death begets life, love, and passion. --Trinie Dalton

The two-part saga Return to Cranford opens to a struggling Cranford, a traditional English village that in autumn 1844 is airing the conflicts that accompany progress. Miss Matty Jenkyns (Judi Dench), after having closed her business in the last series, is happily babysitting the child of her maid, Martha (Claudie Blakley). This gives the ladies in town something to gossip about, as does every other small event in this chatty group. The same women populate this new Cranford--the snooty Miss Jamieson (Barbara Flynn), nosy Miss Pole (Imelda Staunton), Miss Forrester (Julia McKenzie), Peggy (Jodie Whittaker), and Erminia (Michelle Dockery)--while a few new men added into the mix creates options for love interests throughout. In Part One, Peggy, visiting her dead father's grave, bumps into William Baxton (Tom Hiddleston), a young and dapper gentleman who becomes a central character in Cranford's growing divide between those who want a railroad coming through town and those who don't. While politics are sorted, scenes alternate between heated public debates and intimate domestic exchanges to make Return to Cranford as charming as the first incarnations of this historical drama. The emphasis on the ways the women in town navigate thorny social situations remains primary in Return to Cranford. Babies are born and the elderly pass away while the ladies busily decide what to make of it all. While Part One focuses on catch-up, showing where each crone stands on the latest current events, Part Two attempts more to challenge outmoded cultural values such as elitism and to show how the community members toughen up to become a courageous bunch. Unfortunately, Miss Matty discovers that solidarity is hard to come by in this small village, and Part Two is as much about a town falling apart as it is about ways to heal sore feelings and a violated landscape. Ultimately, life marches on in this pleasurably fictionalized glimpse into England's past. --Trinie Dalton

Special Features

  • Behind the scenes
  • Making Of

  • Product Details

    • Actors: Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins, Philip Glenister, Michael Gambon, Francesca Annis
    • Directors: Simon Curtis
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
    • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
    • Subtitles: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
    • Number of discs: 3
    • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
    • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
    • DVD Release Date: January 19, 2010
    • Run Time: 468 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B002XTBECY
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,361 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
    • Learn more about "Cranford: The Collection (Cranford / Return to Cranford)" on IMDb

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    109 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Z Hayes HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on January 14, 2010
    Format: DVD
    Cranford Collection
    Cranford (2008)

    Cranford aka the Cranford Chronicles, based on Elizabeth Gaskell's story is a stellar production. It is a lush period drama and is very authentic in its portrayal of people living in a little hamlet called Cranford. The sets are beautiful as are the costumes, and of course the production is elevated to a level of excellence by its impeccable casting. Writer Heidi Thomas does a wonderful job of adapting Elizabeth Gaskell's story [purportedly based on Gaskell's own hometown] and though liberties are taken, the stellar cast more than makes up for whatever deficiencies there may be in the faithfulness of the adaptation. Dame Eileen Atkins [Miss Deborah Jenkins] and Dame Judi Dench [Miss Matty Jenkins] portray two spinster sisters in 1842 who live in the little town of Cranford. Far from being a quiet little hamlet, this little town hums with activity and village gossips, especially a Miss Pole [Imelda Staunton]who flits around from one hearsay to another, avidly passing on any little nuggets of gossip to the other inhabitants.

    Cranford is set aflutter by the arrival of a new doctor, Dr Harrison [Simon Woods] who is young, handsome, single and very much into trying new methods of treatment, to the initial consternation of the townspeople. Dr Harrison finds himself attracted to a beautiful local lass, Sophy [Kimberly Nixon] though he inadvertently attracts the romantic affections of other single women in Cranford. But the story does not merely focus on romance, as there are other more serious themes underlying the series.
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    37 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Annie Oakley on March 4, 2010
    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    I happened to catch part of this story on PBS and was so intrigued that I just had to have the series. I was not disappointed as it was quality performances and the DVD quality was top notch. Anyone who loves these types of movies will be delighted with the Cranford series.
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    25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Bogart on February 18, 2010
    Format: DVD
    Having long been a fan of Regency-era costume dramas that tend toward the romantic, my journey into the small English town of Cranford, circa 1842 -- with a passion for the smaller domestic dramas of life -- was a fresh and uncharted voyage. Based upon 19th century novelist Elizabeth Gaskell's work, this BBC mini-series is a conglomeration of Gaskell's adapted novellas; not only Cranford itself, but also My Lady Ludlow, and Mr. Harrison's Confessions.

    The town of Cranford in the North West of England in 1842 is poised on the brink of change. Long governed by an unusually high population of older, single women, its culture revolves around propriety and social calls. The slightest hint of change in fashions, residence, or circumstance prompts a torrent of talk. Still, despite the oft-times virulent stream of misunderstandings and troubled times, Cranford is a town with deeply held friendships and strong loyalties.

    Cranford: The Collection is a beautiful two-volume boxed set that includes both the original Cranford with five parts on two DVDs, and the two parts of Cranford: Return to Cranford on a single DVD. With each episode running approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes, this is no lightweight drama; Cranford: The Collection boasts a total running time of 468 minutes, excluding each volume's "making of" segment with insights into the writing process, filming, period costumes, and more.

    Performed by an absolutely dazzling cast of British talent, Cranford fairly soars on the wings of its talented ensemble. Peopled with many well-recognized actors - Eileen Atkins, Alex Jennings, Michael Gambon, and many others - the centerpiece of Cranford's heart is Judi Dench's portrayal of Miss Matty.
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    21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Lady Godiva on February 22, 2010
    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    This is an excellent movie with a cast to match. It was wonderful entertainment and enjoyment. I recommend it for anyone interested in the time period.
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    18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By M.M. Bryan on February 18, 2010
    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    For those of you who love the romantic and proper days of the Victorian era, this series is for you! These are the days when men courted women, and women dreamed of marrying, raising children and running a household. Men were chivalrous and proper and women were classy with impecible manners. It's a shame, sometimes, that progress happens, because these are times when innocence and virtue were not bad things. Just the tiny events that happen in Cranford were made much bigger by reactions, overreactions, gossip and horrible misunderstandings. Not to mention, the very saddest times were overcome by family support, deep and lasting friendships, and a deep faith in God and, well, kindness to one's fellow man. Judi Dench is wonderful, as are most of the lesser-known cast members (although there are several well-known actors who are superb - Imelda Staunton being one). Wonderful on a cold Saturday or Sunday night when nothing is on cable.
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    14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By HikerBiker425 on January 22, 2010
    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    This was an absolute delight to watch! I can completely relate to certain aspects because I live in a small town and word gets around fast- much like it does in Cranford with all of the women. There are times of great humor, sorrow, anticipation, and drama. Very well-rounded story with great character development and a deliciously written plot describing life in the 1840s. As a history major I can attest that the costumes and customs shown are completely accurate, for those of you who care. Even my fiance enjoyed watching this- we watched all 5 episodes the night I got it. Then we watched them all over again the second. He like it so much he was the first to ask if we could buy the "Return to Cranford"- and all this coming from a 27 year old male I find quite quixotic. We are both big fans of historical and period films. This tops our list! We recognized many of the actors/actresses and all of them work wonderfully together. Overall, couldn't ask for anything more! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!
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