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In an era when women were to be seen and not heard, the unforgettable Lillie broke every taboo without a backward glance. The series chronicles her long life, and in so doing presents one of the best portraits of Victorian England ever filmed.
We watch Lillie as a young tomboy, grow to an awkward adolescent, a stunning woman, and a beautiful old woman. Each stage of her life is portrayed perfectly by Annis, the makeup transforming her body while her awesome talent transforms her character development as Lillie.
Lillie is one-of-a-kind, a calculating woman of immense presence, grace and substance. Unfortunately, she becomes trapped in a loveless marriage, but she devises her own way to cope.
Taking full advantage of her beauty, Lillie deliberately attracts as many as a dozen lovers and admirers including the married Prince of Wales and notorious Oscar Wilde.
As her husband slowly drinks himself to death, she relies on her looks, wiles and self-assurance in the London Society of the 1870s to embark upon a sensational career as a marginally talented actress.
With guile, Lillie creates a truly unique life of the courtesan, eventually gaining prestige by going on the stage and touring America many times over.
Throughout her life she endures financial ruin and scandal, yet maintains her celebrated lifestyle. Because Lillie lives to be a very old woman, viewers are given an honest glimpse of the Victoria Era through the span of her life.
As with every BBC miniseries dealing with period stories, the acting, staging, filming and music is all well above top notch.
Part of the plot of the 1940 film "The Westerner" is concerned with Judge Roy Bean's infatuation with an English actress named Lillie Langtry. That character shows up in "Lillie" just once but memorably, but the scene does raise the question of how just another pretty face could so become the rage of England and America without its owner having any other particular talents (they say her acting was amateurish at best)--except an iron will to get what she wants and a high degree of intelligence.
As played by Francesca Annis, whose own good looks make the story believable, Lillie suffers an early disillusionment when she marries Mr. Langtry (brilliantly played by Anton Rodgers) because he is a "gentleman" (= an utterly useless person) with a yacht. Then she quickly realizes he has far less fortune than she thought and even less understanding of how a wife should be treated (after their wedding night, he spends the rest of the day in town). In the years that follow, although she becomes the mistress of the Prince of Wales (Denis Lill) and of several other men, Langtry doggedly refuses a divorce--and his end is possibly just what he deserves or rather a bit more than he deserves.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Thank you so much for the prompt sending of Lillie. I loved this production when it first came out 35 years ago, and then disappeared. Watching it again is such a pleasure. Read morePublished 14 hours ago by chappell holt
Would think most women would enjoy this story, even for the fashions.!Published 21 days ago by Bluesky
Love this series so much, love the price of DVD and love the qualityPublished 1 month ago by Dodger Dog 13
We thoroughly enjoyed this production. Saw it many years ago on PBS and happy to see it again. Only full-screen and HD could have improved the experience.Published 1 month ago by Thom
absolutely brilliant performance by Francesca Annis. Would loved to see more of her. One of the best performers of her generation.Published 2 months ago by Kulk
An honest, unflinching portrayal of pretty people and their foibles. Beautifully costumed and filmed, and really touching at the end.Published 2 months ago by DIANE M DONOVAN
I watched this about 20 years ago and never forgot the wonderful characters, the story, and the life of an English woman who did not follow the rules or quite fit the mold. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Barbara Wells
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