The Forsyte Saga is nothing if not superior soap opera. It could all have gone horribly wrong, haunted by the spectre 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, seamess direction.
Risks were taken to banish the old ghosts, particularly in the casting. In the event, Damian Lewis' 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 marvellous cameos and splendid acting, the top honours go to Corin Redgrave and Rupert Graves for their hauntingly sensitive interpretations of Old and Young Jolyon, as well as to Amanda Root's increasingly exasperated Winifred; and Gillian Kearney's sharply intelligent and worldly June. All rounded characters without a weakly written cipher in sight. --Piers Ford
The Forsyte Saga is an immense drama of sex, power, and money. It chronicles the lives of three generations of a powerful Victorian family. Superior, arrogant and confident on the surface, beneath the imposing veneer lies a festering core of unhappy and brutal relationships, riddled with jealousies and tensions.
At that heart of the Saga is Soames Forsyte, a rich and successful partner in the family law firm and a staunch upholder of the old moral code. But his fiery, tormented relationship with his beautiful wife Irene upsets his complacency and, as Irene embarks on a passionate affair, the Forsyte Family is cruelly ripped apart in a bitter feud.
A classic of English literature, The Forsyte Saga paints a fascinating picture of early twentieth century London life, charting the progress of a great dynasty from the height of the Victorian era through the turbulent transition into the modern age. The Forsyte Saga is a compelling drama of love, adultery, obsession and deceit, providing an enticing glimpse into a passionate and flamboyant existence.
DVD extras include:
Making Of The Forsyte Saga
This amazing story is (inevitably) historically accurate, and is in my opinion totally believable. The casting seemed to me to be unquestionable and since the majority will fail to read the lengthy saga, I would suggest that entering into the story with an open mind will only allow the audience to enjoy this truly moving story of love and possession the more.
For all those interested in period drama, the DVD/VHS is well worth acquiring!!
ITV's The Forsyte Saga is the TV adapted version of John Galsworthy's two-out-of-the-three Fosryte Saga novels. It surpasses the BBC 1960s version by a long shot. The Forsyte Family is a wealthy Victorian family with little care for those around them and absolute greed in gaining the best for the family name. However the family divides after a scandal involving a young Irene Heron (Gina McKee - The Lost Prince). Irene marries the lawyer in the family, Soames Forsyte (Damian Lewis - Band of Brothers), an epitome of all things Victorian and old and a favourite of the old Victorian aunts, Ann, Juley (Wendy Craig - Butterflies) and Hester. However the scandal which Soames causes by thinking he owns Irene, spilts the family for generations to come. The Forsyte Saga chronicles the life of this one family from the 1870s up to the early Edwardian Period. Be prepared for many deaths, marriages, scandals and relationships in this gripping and nostalgic look at life for the wealthy in the 19th Century.
My other main criticism was that the characters did not seem to age that much considering that about 30 years elapses from the start of the series to the end.
For example, it was difficult to believe that Rupert Graves was playing a man who should have been 54 years of age by the end of the series! Soames also did not look like a man in his late 40s.
There were some compensations. Corin Redgrave as old Jolyon gave a genuinely moving performance and the costumes were excellent.
However, all in all I would recommend that anyone interested in the Forsyte Saga should invest in the black and White videos.