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The Forsyte Saga, Series 1

4.4 out of 5 stars 732 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

An all-new adaptation of john galworthy's classic tale of a rich and powerful english family rocked by sexial jealousies, infidelities and the turbulent transition to the modern age.

Amazon.com

Granada Television's adaptation of The Forsyte Saga achieved the seemingly impossible in spring 2002, matching the BBC's 35-year-old black-and-white classic version with a richly cast and superbly directed take on John Galsworthy's first two novels. The success of these six 90-minute episodes proved that despite the current emphasis on miniseries and dramas developed around the hot actor of the moment, our appetite--and attention span--still craves ensemble pieces that are given space and time to develop. It also demonstrates that nothing generates television gold like a compelling family drama crammed with lust, rape, class conflict, and the insuperable power of money.

The Forsyte Saga is nothing if not superior soap opera. It could all have gone horribly wrong, haunted by the specter of its BBC predecessor--a television legend for anyone over 40. Instead, it succeeds entirely on its own merits with scarcely a weak link--from Stephen Mallatratt's taut and fluid script to David Moore's carefully measured, seamless direction. Risks were taken to banish the old ghosts, particularly in the casting. Damian Lewis's repressed Soames and Gina McKee as his ill-matched bride, the enigmatic Irene, are inspired choices delivering complex portraits of unhappy, damaged human beings who deserve our sympathy. In a sea of marvelous cameos and splendid acting, the top honors go to Corin Redgrave and Rupert Graves for their hauntingly sensitive interpretations of old and young Jolyon, as well as to Amanda Root for her increasingly exasperated Winifred and Gillian Kearney for her sharply intelligent and worldly June. --Piers Ford


Special Features

  • Complete U.K. broadcast edition
  • Making-of featurette
  • Behind-the-scenes photos
  • John Galsworthy biography and booklist
  • Cast biographies

Product Details

  • Actors: Gina McKee, Damian Lewis, Maggie Fox, Ben Miles, Alistair Petrie
  • Directors: Andy Wilson, Christopher Menaul, David Moore
  • Writers: Jan McVerry, John Galsworthy, Kate Brooke, Phil Woods, Stephen Mallatratt
  • Format: Box set, Closed-captioned, Color, Anamorphic
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: October 8, 2002
  • Run Time: 426 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (732 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006FHZE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,061 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Forsyte Saga, Series 1" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I approached this remake with an open mind, having already been enchanted by the novels and the original series on PBS. This series is good, but suffers greatly from miscasting of pivotal character of Irene Heron Forsyte. Gina McKee, a talented actress, does not convey the mystery and allure of Irene the way Nyree Dawn Porter had already done in the original series. Gina McKee's coldness and drabness makes it hard to believe that men would be captivated by her. For instance, I found it hard to believe that Philip Bosinney would throw over sweet and pretty June for this coldblooded woman. Nyree Dawn Porter on the other hand was Irene Forsyte, matching the description of Galsworthy as a beautiful woman with brown eyes and blonde hair who was charming. Ms. Porter effectively portrayed the aversion she had for Soames Forsyte, her first husband, and the warmth and devotion she showed to her second husband, Young Jolyon and their son, Jon. She made it easy to understand why Bosinney would leave June for her.
The male characters were better: Rupert Graves, Ioan Gruffaud, Damien Lewis, and Corin Redgrave were wonderful. Damien Lewis captured the tormented Soames quite well and Ioan Gruffaud was an improvement over the actor who played Bosinney in the earlier series. Corin Redgrave was an outstanding Old Jolyon and Rupert Graves was sympathetic as Young Jolyon. The only problem was that Ms. McKee's Irene looked more mature than her love interests, Philip and Young Jolyon. Irene was sixteen years younger than Young Jolyon, but Rupert Graves looked younger than Gina McKee. Ioan Gruffaud looked more suited to the actress playing June than the more mature Irene.
The scriptwriters I felt took liberties with the novel that really clashed with what the characters were all about.
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Format: DVD
Some of my readers might have very warm recollections of the 1967 black and white BBC mini-series (from before, I believe, the term was coined) that brought to life in 26 episodes and 21 hours all six of the nine novels written by John Galsworthy under the supertitle "The Forsyte Saga." Few video adaptations quite as good were to come again until "The Pallisers" attracted millions, and both would be very difficult to improve upon. Well, Granada has tried with what might be an 18 part remake of the Galsworthy saga; and the first series of 6 is now available on three DVDs from Acorn Media.
Taken on its own terms, it is extremely good--but not perfect--and had me and wife pretty well riveted to the screen on three successive evenings. It did not, however, erase fond memories of the earlier version. Now the 1967 version was "studio-bound, with static camera work, long scenes and long speeches" (as the press release puts it). What the release leaves out was superb acting by established stars and by newcomer Susan Hampshire whose Fleur made her a star.
For example, Eric Porter made Soames a sympathetic human who hurt himself more than he hurt others, especially his miserable first wife Irene. In the 2002 version, Damian Lewis, looking like a demonic Steve McQueen, is 99% pure villain; and his mother's recollection of how he loved a pet cat to death does little to soften his character. It is only in the very last minute of the last episode that he softens--but I will not tell you why.
Another problem is the actress playing Irene, Gina McKee. The original Irene was portrayed by the extremely beautiful Nyree Dawn Porter; and all of the comments in the script about her looks were not contradicted by what we saw of her.
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If you like soap operas you'll like this. I gave it three stars because the acting is good, but too many annoyances -- one being the casting of the Irene character. She and Bosinney seemed very miscast. He looked like a child next to her. My dislike of her character or maybe it's the actress herself, plus the dysfunction makes it unenjoyable. Damien Lewis is a wonderful actor, and he plays the part of nasty Soames quite well, but it's very unenjoyable to watch. I'd rather do laundry.
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I don't know what compelled me to finish the entire season. I guess I was just hoping that it would get better. It didn't. My biggest problem with it is that there is no one who is compelling or charming or even attractive. There's no one with chemistry. There is no character to feel sympathetic toward. Of course, the rape scene is horrible and makes you hate Soames, but it doesn't make me really root for Irene either. She's not a likable character. There's no one to get behind and cheer for. Everyone is equally boring and unappealing.

Also, when Joliyn (idk how to spell that ridiculous name) and Irene end up together and his daughter walks in on them in bed after Irene has just had their child?! And she didn't even know they were together? Worst father of the year. The plot line is so twisted yet still not particularly interesting.
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Format: DVD
Having read the books and now having seen both the 69 version and the 2000 version I am somewhat mystified by some of the reviews. First let me say that I am generally a fan of "original" works rather than remakes. I love black and white and am not at all bothered by dated production values or styles. This said, the 2000 version is far and away superior to the 69 version. The performances here are vastly more nuanced and subtle, especially Damien Lewis as Soams. His predecessor was not only too old for the role but I find his performance very self-conciouse and one note. As for the huge uproar over the casting of Irene, I expected to be bowled over by the original, I was not. Here again a very stagey and also vacant performance. Gina McKee is an Irene who attracts not only with her grace and beauty. She is attractive because of her sensitvity her insight and her unwilingness to bow to Victorian social standards. The very things that attract Soams to Irene are the things that make it impossible for their marriage to work. The other characters are also, with rare exception, played better here than in the original especially June, Young Jolyon, Bossiney and Winifred. Do not let a bow to nostalgia cloud your judgement. This is by far a superior piece of work.
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