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116 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Based on the sensational novel by Michel Faber

"Thrilling" -Daily Express (U.K.) "A deep, dark treat" -The Times (U.K.)

"Compelling, beautifully shot, and vividly acted" -The Daily Telegraph (U.K.)
"The outstanding drama of the year" -The Times (U.K.)

As seen on Encore

Enter a Victorian England you’ve never seen: gritty, dark, and unsettling. Based on Michel Faber’s international bestseller, this four-part BBC series follows the fortunes of Sugar (Romola Garai, Atonement, Emma), a notorious prostitute who longs for a better life. Sexually adept, ambitious, and clever, she casts a spell on William Rackham (Chris O’Dowd, Bridesmaids, The IT Crowd), feckless heir to a perfume business and husband to a wife slipping slowly into insanity. As their lives intertwine, events are set in motion that will change them forever.

This provocative psychological thriller boasts a stellar cast and a boldly original look and feel, exposing 1870s London as a place where violence and madness lurked everywhere. Garai is “electric” (The Telegraph Magazine, U.K.), O’Dowd “a revelation” (The Daily Telegraph, U.K.), and Amanda Hale “brilliant” (The Times, U.K.) as Rackham’s wife, Agnes. With Gillian Anderson (Bleak House, The X-Files) as monstrous madam Mrs. Castaway and Richard E. Grant (Gosford Park) as creepy Dr. Curlew, “this striking Gothic melodrama…[is] lurid in the best sense” (The Scotsman, U.K.).

Special Features

SDH Subtitles
BONUS Deleted scenes (11 min.); interviews with Romola Garai and Chris O’Dowd, director Marc Munden, and key crew members (20 min.); and character biographies

Product Details

  • Actors: Romola Garai, Chris O'Dowd, Amanda Hale, Shirley Henderson, Gillian Anderson
  • Directors: Marc Munden
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: ACORN MEDIA
  • DVD Release Date: September 25, 2012
  • Run Time: 274 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0074FUSFG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,639 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
The four part British production "The Crimson Petal and The White" showcases a world with little hope and much depravity. And yet, it revels in this exquisite misery! It is so bleak and so dark, in fact, it is sure to turn off certain viewers. But its willingness to push into this unpleasantness (and beyond) is just what makes this miniseries so compelling and so very different. It is a masterful presentation, to be sure, recreating a London of the 1870's with rich period detail in both costuming and sets. But this is no staid and refined period piece. It is explicit and graphic in depicting the underbelly of the city. Set partly in the streets and the brothels of London and partly in the realm of the aristocracy, "The Crimson Petal and The White" tells the story of one prostitute's efforts to bridge this gap by any means necessary. And what she finds as she moves toward better conditions are every bit as alarming and disturbing as what is shown on the mean streets! Really, there is no respite in this world! But that's exactly why I liked this brutal and uncompromising program, it never goes soft or promises anyone happiness.

Romola Garai play Sugar, a world weary working girl, who really knows how to manipulate a mark. She harbors violent fantasies and dreams of a different life. Setting herself apart as a premium girl, she pursues an avenue of escape with single minded obsession. One day, she meets a rather timid john (Chris O'Dowd) who seems smitten with her and is genuinely easy to bend to her will. When she recognizes that he is a man of great wealth, she maneuvers to become his mistress. She insinuates herself into the life of his mentally damaged wife and eventually gets close to his troubled daughter.
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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Harold Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWER on August 1, 2012
Format: DVD
Compulsory & addictive, it mimes froth of Victorian London Sts. Cinematography, costumes & sets force viewers deeper into its dark psychological story. The plot and writing are less than stellar. Lead characters portrayals leave one mesmerized by the despicable dearth and poverty of a Dickensian era. Catherine Cookson's poor and low-class tales come to mine too. Don't expect glamor and Victorian gaiety, but every form of crime and dereliction known of the time, 1874. No sympathy, it's lost in strong crass depictions that leave little to imagine. Mad, cunning women are played so well the viewer begins to hate, not adore these characters. Yet it's a mini-series you'll love hating.

The camera's eye, focused on the disgust of the dirty streets and rooms, is filmed so cunningly it resembles Impressionism art done with dark color. Not a love story, but debauchery glistening from mud, vomit, blood and ale. Stunning visuals obligate viewing. Romola Garai (Emma; Amazing Grace) turns sharply from roles like "Emma." As Sugar, she's sweet/sour in her portrayal both with and without clothing as she passes from prostitute, to mistress, to governess. Her Mom and Madam (Gillian Anderson- Bleak House) is so convincing she seems to have literally taken a turn into the underworld. Mrs. Fox (Shirley Henderson- Wish Me Luck: Series 3) seems unable to decide which side of the orgies she desires. William (Chris O'Dowd) will disgust men and women, with and without garments. Plenty more adding to a coarse, disturbing image of poverty and orgy coming to life. Adults only, strongly recommended.

SUBTITLES for all 4 episodes (an hour each) and bonus material.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By M Snyder on September 19, 2012
Format: DVD
I have read the book twice and plan to read it again. For those of you that did read the book - it follows the novel closely. I also plan to purchase this movie and watch it again.

It is shocking in nature with the sexual content and the street life of the poor and the prostitutes, but I think it represents what it would have really been like in that time period. There is no romanticized view to the movie and is not your typical period piece (which I am a huge fan of by the way) so if that is what you expect you might not want to watch it.

I thought the characters were well casted based on the characters in the novel and the scenes and costumes were eerily beautiful.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Sarah on July 15, 2013
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If you've never read the novel, I can see why this mini series could put you off it entirely.

Readers love the novel because it gets into the heads of the characters and brings them to life. You feel their emotions and hear their thoughts and inner most secrets. The author is so skillful, you get to know the characters from the inside out and almost come to think of them as living people... Sadly it's these types of books and characters that are nearly impossible to bring to life on screen, no matter how talented the actors or directors are. Almost always, these books are lost in translation to the screen, and that's whats happened here to a certain extent. While readers will be able to forgive many of the flaws in this film adaptation because they know what the characters are thinking/feeling in any given scene, people new to the Crimson Petal world are likely to be disappointed.

In the novel, we come to know Sugar as a terribly abused young girl with a brilliant intellect and rich inner world, who is desperate to escape the brothel of her madame - who is also her own mother - Mrs. Castaway. We're privy to Sugar's every thought, feeling, hope, and fear as she slowly and skillfully navigates her way up through the rigid caste system of Victorian England. We watch her undergo tremendous personal growth, changing from a bitter, cynical, angry person into someone who breaks the cycle of abuse and conquers her past and her inner demons to be able to feel genuine love, affection, and happiness...

However, as we lack that inside view of the Sugar of the TV adaptation, she comes across poorly on screen. There's only so much inner dialogue even the most skilled actresses can outwardly portray. Film Sugar is almost drugged acting, and at times seems nearly deranged.
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