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4.4 out of 5 stars
Persuasion [VHS] [1995]
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221 of 223 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2004
I have watched this dramatisation of 'Persuasion' over and over again. It is beautifully acted with superb performances from Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root. The whole things is very understated and subtle but the body language is electric. The later BBC adaption of 'Pride and Prejudice' is more obviously romantic with sexy leads etc but 'Persuasion' is actually far more affecting. The supporting cast are wonderful and I particularly enjoyed Fiona Shaw's performance as Mrs Croft. As with many of the performances you really have to concentrate on what she is saying and she lends the words a thoughtful intensity. If you are a lover of Jane Austen the writer rather than simply adaptions of Jane Austen you will like this version. I much preferred it to Ang Lee's adaption of 'Sense and Sensibility' which took huge liberties with the book or the rather overheated recent version of 'Mansfield Park'. 'Persuasion' is a wonderful example of less being more.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2008
Persuasion is my favourite book and this adaptation does it justice. The tone of the film matches the tone of the book: whistful. Anne is beautifully portrayed by Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds is wonderful as the charismatic Captain Wentworth. It's far subtler than the more recent ITV adaptation, and because of that all the more beautiful. Scenes in this film would melt the hardest of hearts, yet it is still funny. The perfect comfort film.
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120 of 123 people found the following review helpful
on 11 April 2006
Simply the best Austen adaptation on film. The quality of this production is in the delicacy of small gestures and exposition of character in telling an entertaining story which is nonetheless energetically driven by its carefully drawn yet dramatic plot. The deft direction sucessfully brings out the character of even the supporting roles and, as a result, rewards repeated viewing as the layers become revealed and enjoyed with increasing familiarity. To name just a few: Amanda Root's development from dowdy to radiant; Corin Redgrave's vanity in checking the reflection of his hair in his dinner knife; Simon Russell-Beales perfect interpretation of a country gentleman and the gentle humour of the scene in which all the family confide their concerns with each other to a tactfully diplomatic Ann Eliott notwithstanding the contradictions inherent in the process. If you are an Austen fan you must own this.
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122 of 126 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 24 February 2006
When I heard that a new version of Persuasion was in the pipeline, my first thought was why bother? This BBC adaptation by director Roger Michell and writer Nick Dear (thankfully, Andrew Davies does not write all the BBC’s literary adaptations) is the best 19th century novel adaptation for television that I have ever seen. Whilst it takes some liberties with the text, these expansions of character and dialogue are not unseemly and mould themselves nicely within the plot parameters of Austen’s novel. The acting is superb with Amanda Root at the forefront and Ciaran Hinds, Fiona Shaw, Samuel West and Corin Redgrave providing extraordinary support. The photography is stunning, completely modern in its roving camera style at times, but never jarring as it was in the BBC’s recent adaptation of Bleak House (an adaptation that could have learnt from the daring, yet restrained style in direction and cinematography of Persuasion). I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 28 December 2007
This is absolutely my favourite T.V. adaptation of a Jane Austin novel. It is a real treat to watch from beginning to end: the whole thing is so well cast that every scene and every character have a charm of their own.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 5 December 2011
Though overshadowed at the time by its much more populist TV contemporary, Pride and Prejudice, this 1995 one-off BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's Persuasion has ably stood the test of time and is still an engrossing treat for romantics of all ages. It is, in fact, a perfectly realised and beautifully acted gem.

The tale unfolds around mousy Ann Elliot (Amanda Root), one of Jane Austen's most endearing heroines, as her quiet world is turned upside down by the sudden reappearance of the suitor she reluctantly rejected years before, dashing Navy captain Frederick Wentworth (Ciarán Hinds). Amid the stifling social conventions of Regency England, a tale of enduring passion, desperate hope and unrequited love is played out in a way that has never been bettered.

The performance of Amanda Root is a tour-de-force. Quite simply, she IS Ann Elliot, a shy, clever and able young woman whose spirit has slowly been battered into submission by her selfish family. And now the young penniless Navy officer she was persuaded to reject has returned a captain, and with a fortune in prize money to boot. Ann's silent agony is beautifully portrayed by Amanda Root and her awkward interactions with Wentworth are riveting and moving.

In fact, the performances throughout are top-notch, with Ciarán Hinds lending a suitably bluff no-nonsense dimension to his sea-dog character that complements his former love perfectly. But what are his feelings now? Corin Redgrave is a hoot as Ann's foppish buffoon of a father Sir Walter Elliot, and the obligatory Austen grotesques are present in the form of Ann's horrible sisters Elizabeth and Mary, played by Phoebe Nichols and Sophie Thompson respectively.

Much as the dialogue is authentic, so is the production as a whole, with every detail perfect. From the grand Regency interiors of Bath to the cosy squalor of seaside cottages, from dim evening candlelight to airy country lanes, this whole production takes us right back to Jane Austen's time and lands us there without a bump, a time when just a look or a touch conveyed so much.

So if you're looking for a truly authentic Jane Austen adaptation to enjoy then this is the one to choose. It's a mini-masterpiece of restrained passion in 103 minutes, an acting master-class and a thoroughly engrossing and moving delight that can be enjoyed several times over. This adaptation of Persuasion is Austen perfection and highly recommended.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 4 November 2007
"Persuasion" is my favourite JA novel and I love this adaptation of it. I have watched it over and over again and simply can't get enough of it! Amanda Root is an excellent Anne Elliot - you really want her to get her man at the end of it, after all that she endures - and Ciaran Hinds is a fantastic Captain Wentworth (and mighty nice to look at too, I might add!). The many glances and the limited conversation with meaningful comments they share is so well done and you really get a sense of the chemistry between them. The rest of the cast was also very well chosen in my opinion; of special note, Sophie Thompson does a wonderful job as Mary and I particularly like Fiona Shaw as Mrs Croft. A very enthusiastic two-thumbs-up from me!
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on 19 April 2007
Jane Austen's final novel has a subtle, haunting quality very hard to capture in abridgement. The recent ITV version, crass in tone and woefully undercast, fell short in every way; I went back for relief to Roger Michell's BBC production, not seen since its original broadcast on Good Friday, 1995, and I'm delighted to say my memory played no tricks. This "Persuasion" is perfection. There are two hours of sheer pleasure on this DVD not just for Austen enthusiasts, but anyone who cares for beautifully-crafted drama. Few modern adaptations have been as sensitive to the nuances of the book and the period (the BBC's "Middlemarch", perhaps). Notwithstanding some simplification in the plot, no moment of screen time is wasted. Without exception, the cast is superb: the warm and lovely Amanda Root gives a career-defining performance of few words but heart-stopping authenticity, and meets her match in Ciaran Hinds' impressive (if faintly Irish-sounding) Wentworth. The production design is spare, the costumes perfectly appropriate to each character, the natural lighting extraordinarily graded (almost to darkness in some scenes), and the locations, including an alternately wet and shining Bath, beautifully evoked. If you want artificial, over-coloured, Hollywood-style melodrama, look elsewhere: this is Austen for the connoisseur.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 18 October 2006
Pretty much as true to the book as you could wish for; I never get tired of watching this DVD. It's so restrained and understated in the best possible way; no overdramatics and OTT camera work. Amanda Root is wonderful; just plain enough in the beginning but really blooms throughout the story. Corin Redgrave is wonderful as Sir Walter; exactly silly and vain enough and I absolutely adore Ciaran Hinds as Captain Wentworth and the tension between Hinds and Root is fabulous. Truly, as Austen as Austen could be - everything about this production is impeccable.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
To my way of thinking there have been two truly great adaptations of Jane Austin novels. There have been many very good ones, and I've enjoyed most of the ones I've seen. The two that stay in my mind, however, are the BBC production of Pride and Prejudice with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, and this one, also from the BBC. They have in common clever and romantic plot lines, first-class production values, uniformly well cast actors who look the period, the skilled translation of Austin's words into the mouths of the characters, and two outstanding female leads. Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet and Amanda Root, who plays Anne Elliot here, are not conventionally beautiful women, but they are skilled actresses who can show emotion with their eyes and carry meaning with a glance. They glow with intelligence and common sense.

Anne Elliot (Root) is the daughter of a foolish, self-involved baronet (Corin Redgrave) who thinks more of society and people's places in it, especially his, than of anything else. Since Anne's mother died, he has squandered his wealth maintaining his view of what his position should be. Anne's sister is just as bad. Eight years earlier a relatively poor naval officer, Frederick Wentworth (Ciaran Hinds) had proposed to Anne, but on the advice of Lady Russell, a friend she trusted, she declined. Lady Russell had pointed out that the match was simply unsuitable. "He had no fortune, no connections," she tells Anne again. "It was entirely prudent of you to reject him." Now it's eight years later. Anne is 27 and has almost resigned herself to a life of spinsterhood and duty to her family. But by chance (and chance plays a part in Austin's novels), she meets Wentworth again. He is now Captain Wentworth and has made his fortune and his reputation in the Napoleonic wars. Her father, however, can see no point in the Navy. "I strongly object to the Navy," he says. "It brings people of obscure birth into undue distinction and it cuts up a man's youth and vigor most horribly!"

Persuasion is the story of how these two people, who have been seen as imperfect by many and who see each other as perfect, manage tentatively through the stilted conventions of the day, one to find the courage to ask again and the other to say "Yes" this time. Hinds brings authority to the part, but also a shyness. We catch him glancing at Anne and at first are unsure if he longs for her or resents her. Root makes a terrific heroine. She may even look a little plain, but she is intelligent, she cares for her relatives and her friends. She regrets the decision she made eight years ago, but doesn't know really what she can do within the limits of her world. And finally it comes down to the two of them needing to persuade themselves and each other to step out of convention and simply say to each other what they feel.

"Society" and one's place in society was all important. Calculation and artifice -- and money -- were far more important than ability or sincerity. Austin skewers with gentleness the pretensions of these self-involved people and their attitudes. She also creates a heroine who is humorous and shrewd. At one point, Anne Elliot is discussing the differences in the natures of men and women with Captain Harville, a friend of Wentworth's. "We do not forget you," says Anne, "as soon as you forget us. We cannot help ourselves. We live at home, quiet, confined, and our feelings prey upon us. You always have business of some sort or other to take you back into the world." "I won't allow it to be any more man's nature than women's to be inconstant or to forget those they love or have loved," Harville replies. "I believe the reverse. I believe... Let me just observe that all histories are against you, all stories, prose, and verse. I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which did not have something to say on women's fickleness." "But they were all written by men," Anne says with a smile.

This really is a wonderful movie.
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