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Vanity Fair


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Editorial Reviews

A&E and the BBC bring William Thackeray's classic satire to life in this lavish co-production. In a culture obsessed with status, Becky Sharp---beautiful, clever and poor---is determined to earn her place in society. Her childhood friend, Amelia Sedley, enjoys the privileges Becky lacks, little realizing how fickle these blessings can be. From posh London ballrooms and country estates to the battlefield at Waterloo, they pursue love and fortune in the self-absorbed world of the British upper crust. While the delightfully amoral Becky manipulates the men around her, Amelia's innocence and the vagaries of fate leave her at the mercy of others. Brilliantly adapted by Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice) from William Makepeace Thackeray's masterpiece, Vanity Fair faithfully preserves the bon mots and stinging satire that has made the novel one of the enduring classics of English literature.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Natasha Little, Frances Grey, Philip Glenister
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: August 16, 2011
  • Run Time: 300 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00505ETV6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,306 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

The characters are well acted.
M. G. Gagliano
Unfortunately, the execution is was a bit of a one-note.
Danie'
The best Vanity Fair adaptation.
Kay

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

114 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Halloran on January 27, 2000
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Thackeray's "Vanity Fair" is such a sprawling, grand example of the Victorian novel that any mere two-hour movie adaptation will be forced to leave out crucial elements. As it is, this six-hour BBC film version emits certain items (Jos Sedley's ultimate fate, the James Crawley episode), but is remarkably faithful to its source. Indeed, a television mini-series is the best way to adapt such a work, allowing the story to unfold and the viewer to become involved with the various characters.
This production is fantastic, with beautiful costumes, excellent performances, and a fine script. Chief among its attractions is Natasha Little in the key role of Becky Sharp. Miss Little is not only luminously beautiful, but manages to arouse our sympathies toward a virtually unsympathetic character. Special mention must also go to Jeremy Swift, whose portrayal of bumbling Jos Sedley is a delight. Miriam Margolyes (always wonderful) and Eleanor Bron appear in secondary roles. The rest of the cast is well-chosen and all play their parts with conviction.
The greatest hurdle a filmed version of "Vanity Fair" faces is how to convey the many shifts of tone which Thackeray goes through in the novel. This problem has been solved by use of an unusual score, which draws from such diverse sources as military marching bands, Strauss waltzes (wrong for the period but who cares?), and a bit of Kurt Weill. Murray Gold's score never lets us forget that we are in the world of Thackeray's biting satire, and not Jane Austen's more delicate world of comedy-of-manners.
All told, it will take a long time before this film treatment is bettered.
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 14, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
It would be hard for a movie to do justice to Thackeray's wonderful novel VANITY FAIR, but it is clear that this awesome 5 hour version is every bit as good. I bought the whole set of tapes as soon as I heard they were coming out, and love them. Every time I watch them, I get so involved in the characters that I can't wait to watch the next episode. I always laugh at the broad, witty comedy that brings the film to life, and at other times I have to cry, for example the beautiful scene when Dobbin finally admits to Amelia that he is in love with her, or when Amelia has to send her son to go live with his grandfather because she is too poor to take care of him...The film is excellently done, with lavish sets and costumes. I find all of the actors to be wonderful, Natasha Little in particular plays the tricky role of Becky to the hilt, so that we are simultaneously rooting for her and wishing she'll get what's coming to her. Little finds the right mixture of sympathy and wickedness to capture Becky. Also, Miriam Margolyes is absolutely hysterical as the outspoken Miss Crawley, constantly laughing, eating, gossipping, flirting, moaning about her aches and pains, talking with her mouth full, and stabbing her friends in the back--she's like Becky, minus the table manners. Many peole have complained about the musical score, but I think it was incredible. The use of mainly brass instruments is superb, and the horns blare with an evil charm just at the right moments. They are just the right touch, adding to the movie's boldness. The only thing that upset me was that in almost every shot, the heads of the main characters are always cut off--it's so annoying!Read more ›
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Ms Winston VINE VOICE on December 28, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have read "Vanity Fair" twice and intend to re-read this coming year. I remember seeing a BBC version with Susan Hampshire in the role of Becky Sharp back in the 1970s, as well as the 1930s Hollywood version with Mariam Hopkins on late-night television when I was a teenager. Now I understand that there is to be another Hollywood version, with Reese Witherspoon, of all the odd choices, to play Becky. Natasha Little is, in my opinion, an outstanding Becky Sharp, surpassing both Hampshire and Hopkins in the role. I cannot feature the vastly overrated Ms Witherspoon being able to give as subtle and natural a performance as Ms Little does in this A&E production. Ms Little is at once appealing and a monster, a woman "on the make"; in one very funny, and creepy, bit she is forced to turn down a marriage proposal from the coarse Sir Pitt Crawley, because she is already married to his dashing son. When Pitt Crawley leaves the room, it becomes clear that Becky would have married the vulgar old man for the security he offered had she been free.

The rest of the cast was very good, particularly the actors portraying Amelia, George, Rawdon, and Dobbin. There has been some criticism of the appearance of the actors, that they were too plain or even downright unattractive for the roles. One of the differences between British and American productions (particularly those made for televsion) is that in British productions the performers are more often selected for their talent than their appearance. Sometimes this backfires, as in the case of the remake of "The Forsyte Saga," when many viewers complained about Geena McKee being too plain for the role of Irene Forsyte, who was supposed to be a great beauty.
Read more ›
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