As seen on Masterpiece Theatre “Romantic adventure, complete with raging ambition, terrible betrayals, frustrated loves, daring deeds, and a marvelously dashing hero” —The New York Times
Hailed as a British Gone with the Wind, Poldark created a sensation on PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre with its dashing, romantic hero and his infamous exploits. Based on the novels by Winston Graham, this classic miniseries demonstrates the enduring appeal of a gripping storyline and unforgettable characters.
Returning to Cornwall after the American Revolution, Capt. Ross Poldark (Robin Ellis, The Good Soldier) finds his life at home has fallen apart. His estate is in disarray. His former flame, Elizabeth (Jill Townsend, Cimarron Strip), is engaged to his cousin. And his family’s copper mines have become targets for the Poldarks’ bitter rivals. Duels, smuggling, and attempted murders unfold as Ross strives to resurrect his fortunes and find true love. This spellbinding saga dramatizes the deep rifts in British society on the brink of industrialization, played out against the rocky, ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast.
16 episodes; approx. 821 min.; 4:3 full screen; color; British drama; not rated; SDH subtitles
Originally released in 1977, Poldark
is a sweeping drama that is just now being released on DVD for higher-quality viewing. While it does look as though it were made in the '70s, because of its video soap opera sensibility, to call Poldark
dated is a moot point. This historical tale is set in Cornwall's distant past and features heroic Brit Ross Poldark (Robin Ellis), just back from fighting in the Colonies after the Revolutionary War. Broken into 16 parts on four discs, Poldark
opens with mayhem. Ross returns to his small village to discover his father has died, corrupt businessmen threaten to confiscate his properties, and his house has fallen into disarray. Worse, his love, Elizabeth (Jill Townsend), has become engaged to his cousin, Francis (Clive Francis), out of desperation. The first four episodes chronicle Poldark's determination as he digs himself out of the financial and romantic holes he's been forced into. But as in any good melodrama, as soon as one set of problems is resolved, another arises: Poldark meets a young orphan girl, Demelza Carne (Angharad Rees), who is to become, alongside Elizabeth, his female counterpart throughout the series.
As with its contemporary equivalent, Cranford, Poldark vividly portrays the lifestyle and language of its historical period. The sets and costumes are beautiful. Yet while Cranford is told from the female perspective, Poldark represents a male view. Far from conventional or conservative, however, Ross's views sometimes shock his community, and politics enter heavily into the latter half of the series. A rivalry between Ross and greedy landowner George Warleggan (Ralph Bates) grows steadily, until revolution ensues. Constant battles between the Warleggans and the Poldarks, including Ross and his cousins Francis and Verity (Norma Streader), get tiresome and are not as riveting as the love dramas that unfold concurrently. By the last episode, each family is so war-torn, and the characters so aged by their hardships, that it's difficult to understand why property and financial success was so crucial in this culture. As Ross, in the very opening sequence, votes for a Native American point of view, to the shock of the landed gentry he accompanies in a horse-drawn carriage, it becomes clear that Poldark, while rooting itself in romance and intrigue, gently chides the society it portrays for the avoidable follies that were its pitfalls. --Trinie Dalton