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Vanity Fair [DVD]

Natasha Little , Frances Gray , Marc Munden    Parental Guidance   DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
Price: 10.64 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Vanity Fair [DVD] + Middlemarch (Repackaged) [DVD] [1994] + The Mill on the Floss (Repackaged) [DVD] [1997]
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Product details

  • Actors: Natasha Little, Frances Gray, Tom Ward, Nathaniel Parker, Jeremy Swift
  • Directors: Marc Munden
  • Producers: Gillian McNeill
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: 2 Entertain Video
  • DVD Release Date: 4 July 2005
  • Run Time: 300 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009WL8OG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,569 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Thackeray's Vanity Fair had already been filmed by the BBC in 1987, when in the costume drama boom which followed the success of Andrew Davis' adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (1995), the Corporation commissioned him to write this new version. It is a tale of driving social ambition against a background of the Napoleonic wars, with Natasha Little, also to be seen in The Clandestine Marriage (1999), making a purposeful Becky Sharp. Virtual newcomer Frances Grey is the more appealing Amelia Sedley, while Nathaniel Parker, here Far From The Madding Crowd (1998), is the foolish Rawdon Crawley. The difficulty in adapting Thackeray--he also wrote the novel on which Kubrick's appropriately cold Barry Lyndon (1974) was based --is that he created unsympathetic characters for the purpose of satirising, "greedy, pompous men". Unlikable heroines do not make for popular television, and the danger is that we come close to empathising with arch-manipulator Becky Sharp. Nevertheless, there is still acid in this version, which stays close to the letter, if not always the spirit of the original. Add to that a decidedly sarcastic music score by Murray Gold, and if Vanity Fair isn't the absolute best of BBC drama, it certainly has a nasty bite. --Gary S. Dalkin

Product Description

Andrew Davies adapts William Thackeray's novel in this 1998 BBC dramatisation. Becky Sharp (Natasha Little) is a scheming governess who tries to seduce her best friend Amelia's (Frances Gray) buffoon of a brother, Jos (Jeremy Swift), in an attempt to climb the social ladder. Becky then turns her attentions to aristocratic bounder Rawdon Crawley, while the mild and meek Amelia marries her childhood sweetheart, George Osborne. However, fate has a few twists in store for both women.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The BBC comes up with the goods! 3 Jun 2006
This excellent 6 part miniseries of WM Thackeray's masterpiece really delivers. Natasha Little has the right mixture of beauty and guile to convince as Becky Sharp. Nothing is overplayed in her superb central performance. The rest of the roles are perfectly cast too. Any fan of the book will not be disappointed.

The miniseries is stylishly filmed. Parade-like music captures the mood of the piece wonderfully. Noone quite does period drama like the BBC!
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous 19 Aug 2007
By Bezzer
I can quite understand why some people don't warm to this adaptation of the book - it's very bold and 'in your face'. That, however, is very much in keeping with the style of the novel. I feel sure that Thackeray would have been delighted with the way his characters have been brought to life! In both the novel and this TV series, they are not so much characters as caricatures - they are designed to be 'over the top' and unrealistic. That is how Thackeray gets across his message - the greed, artificiality and hypocrisy of polite society in the 19th century.

This TV adaptation does indeed have a 'cop out' ending but Thackeray's own treatment of this area was not consistent - he shies away from actually confirming Becky as being guilty of this final crime as though that was a bit too much even for him! I don't think this detracts from the quality of the adaptation at all.

This is a richly filmed, brilliantly acted and hysterically funny series that I think is a 'must see'.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless classic brought to life 5 Jan 2008
By Four Violets VINE VOICE
Anyone loving the book and wanting a faithful depiction of its events and characters is well advised to stick to this version rather than the more superficial and trivialised version with a (heavily pregnant) Reese Witherspoon.
Natasha Little is Becky Sharp personified, a beautiful but penniless social climber; and who better suited to be the faithful, plodding Dobbin than adorable Philip Glenister.
Becky Sharp is a complex, never entirely likeable character, always in control, always manipulative, as she schemes her way through life in the setting of England in the throes of the Napoleonic Wars; but Natasha Little and the rest of the cast do splendid justice to this timeless classic of love, friendship - and betrayal.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally on DVD 4 July 2005
By pseudopanax VINE VOICE
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The long overdue release of the Marc Munden's quirky production of Thackeray's Vanity Fair is something to celebrate. After the unsatisfying big screen adaptation by Mira Nair in 2004, this version with its jarringly beautiful score and precise characterisations from Natasha Little, Frances Grey, David Bradley and Miriam Margolyes, to name but a few, is a welcome antidote to the brighter and more firmly mainstream BBC adaptations of other 19th century novels such as Wives and Daughters and Middlemarch. Munden takes Andrew Davies' script and confidently stamps it with his own vision, which is by turns viciously bitter or brightly comic yet marvellously consistent with the novel. The ending is disappointing, as with so many of Davies' adaptations, he just seems to run out of steam by the end. Nonetheless, this underrated series is one of the best of the BBC's literary adaptations.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! 6 Jun 2006
Great casting/acting/costume/background, in fact great everything! Stuck close to original book. My only criticism is that awful music & no DVD extras e.g. interview/making of, etc.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars faultless... 24 April 2012
By fabrice
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is not Jane Austen or, (happily) Downton Abbey. This is by far the best adaptation I have ever seen of an 18th century style novel. Thackeray was not polite and polished. He was writing before society had become dominated by prudish manners. It was an earthy, tough, dangerous world where life was relished because it could end so suddenly. It was a time of social turmoil when opportunists could become rich or ruined overnight. It was the age of Gilray cartoons, heavy drinking a high crime rate and sexual freedom. All this is captured in this glorious romp.

Becky is perfect, a designing minx but so charming and so alluring that it is entirely credible that man after man and women too fall at her feet. Yes of course the characters are comic caricatures. That is the whole point. This is a satire. But the production is so intelligent and all the actors so proficient that it matters enormously who wins or loses. From the smallest detail of the robust cuisine, (watch out for the tripe) through the gorgeous costumes to the moments of strong emotion at Waterloo, and Rawden's dicovery, I can't think how it could be better and I can't recommend this production enough. Gobble it up.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent adaptation 7 Sep 2005
By A Customer
Vanity Fair is an excellent BBC adapation, worthy of note. Perhaps even comparable to Pride and Prejudice. The screenplay is quite different, which lends itself more to W.M. Thackery's slighty less glowing vision (than Austen's) of English society. It seems quite surprising that it has not met more popular demand. The acting is quite superb and will keep you riveted to your seat (probably for the full 321 mins!). If the new adaptation with Witherspoon et al is a Morris Minor, then this is a Bentley.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best BBC period dramas 9 Jan 2010
This is one of the best BBC literary adaptations I've ever seen. Witty, with a great sense of humor, plus fantastic acting and script. I can't believe it is so badly known by the British audience. My only explanation is that it might be just a bit too sharp and caustic if you like love stories with happy endings and, perhaps, those people looking for something a bit more authentic might not get through the appearance of yet another period drama. I have watched it a few times and enjoyed every minute. I would say it's worth giving it a go.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
I have enjoyed Vanity Fair ever since I first saw it. I bought the DVD to make sure I had a copy for a life time
Published 1 month ago by P. M. R. Gibson
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful, addictive production
I have watched this production of Vanity Fair many times and each time squirmed a little more at the fabulous, dark, almost Gormenghast like characterisation - Every actor is... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mrs Cecilia A Fattorini
4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly patchy but nonetheless enjoyable
Having only just read Vanity Fair, I opted for this BBC adaptation, rather than the Reese Witherspoon movie. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sebastian Palmer
5.0 out of 5 stars Vanity Fair
Excellent BBC adaptation (when are they not excellent, mind you?) of Thackeray's famous novel. The actors are perfect in their respective roles and you really can't help watching... Read more
Published 4 months ago by B. Juez
3.0 out of 5 stars Fair Adaptation
Just completed the book which slightly differs from this adaptation, can't help but feel a lack of empathy for either of the two women in this story, goes from one extreme to the... Read more
Published 8 months ago by J. Mckenzie
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Humour
I love this version of Vanity Fair, far better than Reese Witherspoon. The faded colours, the cranky music, lecherous Sir Pitt, oddball Miss Crawley, the character list is endless. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Patrish
3.0 out of 5 stars wheesht!!
not sure I can recommend this as the music played through the episodes really spoiled it for me. Someone tell the brass band to wheesht
Published 9 months ago by fat cat and me
5.0 out of 5 stars Tremendous !!!
Natasha Little IS Becky Sharp !
Played with just the right amount of restrained coquettishness. Read more
Published 10 months ago by R. J. Pringle
5.0 out of 5 stars Witherspoon withers
Natasha Little is magnificent here. Whatever made Reese think she could do it better. Vanity? Philip Glenister is wonderful as Dobbin.
Published 12 months ago by susan ann crawford
3.0 out of 5 stars Its okay
Its quite a good story and one worth seeing, the story is average as some period drama s can be.
Published 14 months ago by julie
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