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Aristocrats

4.3 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Decades of history unfold in a dazzling saga of privileged lives and sisterly devotion

As seen on Masterpiece Theatre

With characters, drama, and romance vivid enough for a masterwork of fiction, this story is all the more fascinating because it is true. Based on Stella Tillyard’s acclaimed biography that "made history sexy again" (London Sunday Times), it paints an intimate portrait of 18th-century upper-class life in England and Ireland through the eyes of four beautiful high-born sisters. Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox were great-granddaughters of a king, daughters of a cabinet minister, and wives of politicians and peers. Well-educated, strong-minded, and distinctly individual, they take charge of their own lives, tempting scandal with their unconventional ideas about love, marriage, education, and fidelity.

Starring Serena Gordon, Geraldine Somerville, Anne-Marie Duff, Jodhi May, Siân Phillips, Alun Armstrong, and Julian Fellowes in a sumptuous BBC production.


Special Features

  • "The Making of Aristocrats" 30 minute featurette
  • Stella Tillyard bio
  • Cast filmographies

Product Details

  • Actors: Serena Gordon, Anne-Marie Duff, Jodhi May, Ben Daniels, Julian Fellowes
  • Directors: David Caffrey (II)
  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • 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: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: August 8, 2006
  • Run Time: 293 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000G6BM0K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,144 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Aristocrats" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John D. Cofield TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 8, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
Aristocrats is the epitome of the costume historical dramas the British do so well. It is the story of the five Lennox sisters: Caroline, Emily, Louisa, Sarah, and Cecilia who, as the daughters of the Duke of Richmond and great-granddaughters of King Charles II, stood at the apex of 18th century English society. They lived lives of splendor in magnificent homes with dozens of servants, but their love lives were tumultuous and tortured. Unusually for that period, they held significant political influence through their husbands, sons, and lovers and were witnesses to much climatic history from the mid 1700s through the early 1800s.
If you have only seen the version of Aristocrats shown on Masterpiece Theater in 1999 you are in for an extra treat with this video set in that many deleted scenes have been included, adding to the richness of the drama and making the story much more complete. (We see Cecilia's sad fate, for example).
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Format: VHS Tape
"I remained convinced that our prestigious family with its significant connections could still hold sway over history." Thus spake Emily, Duchess of Leinster, in 1798, shortly before her son, the notorious and dashing Irish revolutionary, Edward Fitzgerald, was executed for the murder of a British soldier. The world they knew was rapidly changing, and, indeed, there was little, if *anything*, the Duchess or her aristocratic family held sway over anymore, except each other. But a few short years before, she and her sisters were among the most admired and privileged women on earth. The five sisters, Caroline, Emily, Louisa, Sarah and Cecilia, were the great-granddaughters of Charles II with his mistress, Louise de Keroualle, the Duchess of Portsmouth. Their grandfather, the king's illegitimate son, was Charles Lennox, 1st Duke of Richmond. His son, also Charles, became the 2nd Duke of Richmond. The 2nd Duke married an Irish woman, of whose backround, both were deeply ashamed of and desperately tried to conceal. When their eldest daughter Caroline, an intelligent woman with a thirst for sophisticated pleasures, eloped with Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland, the Duke and Duchess were mortified at her insubordination - marrying a politician against the wishes of her father brought swift judgement upon Caroline, and she was banished from her family. Caroline missed her family greatly and grieved over their estrangement, but from her home, Holland House (the same one on the Holland House liquor labels), she kept discreet correspondence with her sisters.Read more ›
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Format: DVD
Had Jane Austen been born a royal and become the acute observer of human relationships that she would become in the mid-eighteenth century instead of the early nineteenth this is very likley the tale she would have told. For although this mini-series charts the social and political changes of the 1740's through the 1790's, social and political change alone are not what command our attention here, rather those changes only acquire importance as they affect the personal and public lives of one line of marriagable aristocrats as they look for and sometimes find suitable partners. As in the novels of Jane Austen the focus is on the trials and tribulations (as well as the politics) of courtship, marriage, and the management of social existence that keeps the process in motion from one generation to the next.

Episode one features the story of the Duke of Richmond's eldest daughter Lady Caroline. Lady Caroline is a woman who prefers books to fashionable society and though she is courted by young men her own age its only the free-thinking Voltaire reading Mr. Henry Fox, a good twenty years her senior, that attracts and captivates her most lively attribute, her mind. Mr. Henry Fox is a rising star in the King's cabinet but since he is not of noble birth and since he has a reputation as a libertine who has fathered at least one child with a stage actress, Lady Caroline's father refuses to approve of the match. Since they know they cannot marry with permission the two elope and the result is that Lady Caroline is banished from her parents home. The Duke of Richmond, proud as he is of his noble status, was an illegitimate child, the result of one of Charles II's royal flings, and his wife was an attendant to the Queen.
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Format: VHS Tape
Perfection! The actors, costumes, scenery, and mannerisms were consistant with the era portrayed. A fascinating storyline that happens to be a true story, it exceeded my expectations and I was completely enchanted. I have just ordered the book that is the companion to this film and eagerly await its arrival. If you enjoy films of this era that accurately portray the people and their culture then I guarantee you will adore this achievement in filmmakking. Bravo to PBS & BBC for another classic. By the way, rotten tomatoes to the networks adaptions of "The Love Letter" and "The Inheritance." A public school's drama class would have given these the respect and accuracy they deserve. (A grown woman wearing her hair down?? Never!!! And using today's slang?) Please leave these period pieces alone if you can't do them justice. Thank you.
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