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The George Eliot Collection (Middlemarch / Daniel Deronda / Silas Marner / Adam Bede / The Mill on the Floss)
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The next collection in the successful BBC Classics line comes to life with an assortment of all-star casts in five of George Eliot's beautifully astute literary works, all lovingly portrayed in critically acclaimed productions from the BBC. This 5-disc set includes Adam Bede, Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe, The Mill on the Floss, Middlemarch, and Daniel Deronda.]]>
The 1994 production of Middlemarch juxtaposes morals and money, grand ambitions with petty jealousies, and pursuits of the mind with bodily needs. A handsome young doctor named Lydgate (Douglas Hodge, Vanity Fair) comes to the provincial town of Middlemarch to start a new hospital; a headstrong young woman named Dorothea (Juliet Aubrey, The Mayor of Casterbridge) yearns to contribute to the greater good of the world. These idealists enter into marriages that derail all their intentions and lead them into lives they never imagined. The network of characters in this six-episode program, ranging up and down the societal ladder, create an intricate and utterly engrossing narrative as well as a magnificent recreation of life on the cusp of the Industrial Revolution. The cast, from the largest to the smallest roles, is impeccable. When a scene turns to a character you've only glimpsed before, the precision of the writing (by miniseries master Andrew Davies, Pride and Prejudice) and the vivid performances suck you into the life of this person who seemed like mere background scenery only moments before. The cumulative impact of Eliot's story will leave you gasping at its brilliant balance of romance and reality. Performers include creepy Patrick Malahide (The Singing Detective) and sexy Rufus Sewell (Dark City) among the familiar faces of dozens of inspired character actors. Don't let the literary pedigree of Middlemarch scare you off--the plot is as juicy as a soap opera, with a psychological fullness that makes every dramatic turn all the more gripping.
Daniel Deronda, Eliot's accomplished but underrated last novel, is effectively, often stirringly, adapted for this 2002 BBC production, which was scripted by old pro Andrew Davies (Middlemarch) and directed with wit and subtlety by Tom Hooper (Cold Feet). Set in the 1870s, Eliot's story concerns two strong-willed young people whose self-determination is under attack by legal constraints on their rights to an inheritance. The noble Daniel (Hugh Dancy) is of dubious birth; the fiery Gwendolen (Romola Garai) can't possess her late father's estate because she's a woman. They are sympathetic to one another, but not lovers: Gwendolen is obliged to marry into wealth and becomes an unhappy bride of the scoundrel Grandcourt (Hugh Bonneville), while Daniel must sort out his feelings about the much-maligned "Jewess," the beautiful Mirah. Despite Garai's somewhat questionable casting, this lengthy drama--evenly divided between the two leads--never lags in insight or passion.
The title character of Silas Marner, a member of a strict religious community, is wrongly accused of theft and has no choice but to move to a faraway village. For 15 years he lives alone, hoarding the money he makes from his weaving and gaining a reputation as a recluse, a miser, and perhaps even a witch. Marner's life changes dramatically one Christmas season, when his gold is stolen and a mysterious woman dies in the woods outside his cottage. She leaves behind a child that Marner, to the surprise of the other villagers, takes into his home to raise as his daughter. The arrival of the infant, whom he names Eppie after his mother, transforms Marner. His bitterness evaporates; he no longer cares about his lost money; and he commits himself completely to his adopted child, who grows up into a loving and beautiful daughter. But Marner's happiness may be threatened, because Eppie is really the daughter of the local squire, who was secretly married to the woman whose body Marner discovered. Remarried, but childless, the squire decides he wants to claim Eppie as his own. Ben Kingsley gives a subtle and moving performance as the simple weaver, and a strong cast gives him ample support in this 1985 BBC adaptation of George Eliot's novel. Silas Marner is not particularly complex--it's certainly a more modest undertaking than Middlemarch--but this sentimental Victorian tale, filled with historical detail, potential tragedy, heartless villains, and the redeeming power of childhood, makes for a very satisfying film.
Adam Bede is the very definition of a brash young man. George Eliot's young English country hero is headstrong and arrogant, and sees the world in black and white--not unlike his 18th-century countrymen, living and (barely) breathing by the strict moral code of the day. In this excellent 1991 BBC adaptation, Adam is played by the appealing Iain Glen, who shows he's as comfortable in a sweeping period drama as he is in popcorn fare like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider or the Resident Evil films. Adam is torn by love and commitment, and once he sets his sights on the fetching farmgirl Hetty (Patsy Kensit), he's convinced Hetty's love for his rich acquaintance Arthur is a sham, and uses force to get Arthur to break off their relationship. But what Adam has set in motion, the world will be reeling from for a very long time: in the wake of his impetuous act lie despair, heartbreak, a secret pregnancy, thoughts of suicide, a nd death. And still, the moral order must be upheld. Glen shows Adam slowly but truly growing up, realizing the consequences of his actions. (It doesn't hurt that he ends up with the lovely Dinah, played by the fabulous Susannah Harker of House of Cards and the 1995 Pride and Prejudice--why on earth has this talented young woman not become a huge star?) Viewing the characters' transgressions through 21st century eyes can make some of the plot lines feel remote--nearly unbelievable--but the all-too-human struggles of people trying to do the right thing will always ring true.
Based on her own childhood, George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss gets the deluxe treatment in this eight-part BBC miniseries. Set in 19th century Lincolnshire, the story centers on Maggie Tulliver (Georgia Slowe). Headstrong and undisciplined, she loves her brother Tom (Jonathan Scott-Taylor), but he has his doubts about her. Frankly, he finds his sister exasperating. An uptight, ambitious young man, Tom can't understand why she won't act like a proper young lady. While he's off at boarding school, for instance, she forgets to feed his rabbits and they die. Well-mannered cousin Lucy Deane (Moira Durbridge) is a mutual friend and peacemaker between the two. Over the years, Phillip Wakem (Anton Lesser), another neighbor, will also enter their orbit. Alas, Mr. Tulliver (Ray Smith) and Lawyer Wakem (Philip Locke) are sworn enemies. More studious than her brother (now played by Christopher Blake), teenaged Maggie (Pippa Guard) is drawn to the bright, if hunchbacked Phillip, but her ardor doesn't run as deep as his. Either way, Tom doesn't approve--nor, as it turns out, does Mr. Wakem. Further, as the fortunes of the latter rise, the Tullivers fall so far they lose their mill. But all is not lost. Tom will keep the family afloat when he finds employment with Lucy's father, Uncle Deane (John Stratton), around the same time Lucy's suitor, Stephen Guest (John Moulder-Brown), switches his focus to Maggie. Just when it seems relations couldn't get more tangled, the mill itself provides a neat, if tragic solution. Previously brought to the BBC in 1965 with Jane Asher, this fine, if somewhat stagy 1978 production was followed by a 1997 telefilm with Emily Watson.
Top Customer Reviews
This 1994 BBC adaptation of Middlemarch is well-cast. Douglas Hodge plays Lydgate, a doctor who arrives in the provincial town of Middlemarch intent on setting up a new hospital. Juliet Aubrey portrays Dorothea, a strong-willed and independent minded woman who is determined to improve lives. When these two young people collide, their lives change in a manner that they had never envisioned. This adaptation, thanks to an excellent script by Andrew Davies (who also penned the script for the glorious 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle) and the great cast, bring the life of a town on the brink of the Industrial Revolution to vivid life. There's also strong performances by Rufus Sewell, Patrick Malahide, etc. `Middlemarch' never plods but engages the viewer's interest with its sense of realism and romance. As a fan of the novel, I was greatly pleased by this adaptation.
Daniel Deronda (2002)
This BBC adaptation is based on George Eliot's novel of the same name . The main character Daniel Deronda[Hugh Dancy], is a young man of unknown parentage who is the adopted son of a wealthy man, Sir Hugo, and has all the trappings of wealth, yet yearns for a 'real' purpose and searches for his identity.Read more ›
Very fine adaptations of books by a very fine Victorian novelist.
I highly recommend this collection.
Daniel Deronda was my favorite film out of this collection. It also has a similar theme. People should be careful and marry for the right reasons, no matter what.
Silas Marner was a pleasant surprise. The main character is betrayed by all and even feels that God has betrayed him. The outcome is very interesting (I wont spoil it).
Adam Bede had a very important message, but the film itself was mediocre.
The Mill on the Floss was very good, captivating, and this story also had an underlying theme that forgiveness, love, devotion, and virtue are more important than anything else and that we should consider how we live and how we treat others because all that you have can be gone in an instant. In some ways, this film left me with a heavy heart.
Overall, a good collection.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
i had to return this product as it was hugely flawed; I think the dvd stopped with a message 'skipping over areas' 30 times. was using as a research project so it put me behind.Published 1 month ago by Julia Green
I don't think I can recommend this b/c I rec'd one of this set and had one DVD--Middlemarch-- that wouldn't work. Read morePublished 4 months ago by pj
I'm not far into this series. I've finished only one piece. Time will tell. BBC & Masterpiece are excellent and I cannot find enough of it these days.Published 5 months ago by AO
In the last DVD, you will find George Eliot's story. I recommend watching that first, as it makes the other stories more interesting. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Jeffrey Q.