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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MIND IS A TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE..., 6 Sep 2003
By 
Lawyeraau (Balmoral Castle) - See all my reviews
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This international award winning film adaptation of Catherine Cookson's best selling book of the same name should delight Ms. Cookson's devoted fans and anyone else who enjoys period pieces in which class conflicts are the central theme.
Set in England in the 1840s, a desperate widow with three children, two boys and a girl, takes the post of housekeeper to a crusty member of the gentry who lives in solitary shabby splendor in a home that has seen better days. Living in genteel poverty, he is intrigued by the fact that his housekeeper and her children are literate. Moved by this family who has infused some interest into his formerly desiccated life, he decides to dedicate some personal effort to educating the children.
Unfortunately, he has a dark side that causes a rift in the family he seems to have adopted as his own. Alienated from the oldest son who has little interest in learning, he continues to teach the other two children. The daughter, in particular, thirsts for knowledge and she takes to his tutoring as a duck takes to water. Consequently, she develops a deep affection for him, which he reciprocates. When he dies, she is a well-educated young woman with an appreciation for books.
After his death, however, her mother, angered by the terms of her late employer's will, forces her daughter to go into service as a laundress in a wealthy household in order to earn an income. There, the daughter's intelligence, literacy, and education causes endless trouble, both upstairs and downstairs, and class conflicts begin to raise their ugly head. When certain events transpire in the household that cause her to escape her drudgery, her life takes an unexpected turn, and the world soon becomes her oyster.
This is a handsome production with wonderful performances by the entire cast. It is sure to delight those who enjoy period pieces, as well as those who enjoy the novels of the late Catherine Cookson.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best, 8 Feb 2008
By 
W. Hamilton (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is one of the best in the fine Catherine Cookson series produced by Ray Marshall. The story is less involved than some others, but it has more than enough twists and surprises to sustain an interesting narrative. However, its key strengths are a fabulous cast, and settings, costumes and locations that realise an historical authenticity rarely bettered. It is probably unfair to single out one actor from a stellar group, but Geraldine Somerville's vivid and engaging performance as the central character Biddy is outstanding. The music in this production is also a treat.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A winner all the way., 5 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Black Velvet Gown [DVD] (DVD)
Having come to the end of this DVD, I got the impression that it was about the lack of education amongst the lower classes. Who were frowned upon by their 'educated' peers, if they dared to educate themselves....A widow with 3 children becomes the housekeeper of a reclusive scholar. He has leanings towards the elder boy. Who sets upon him with a scythe and makes him into a cripple. The scholar educates the girl who is responsive to his teachings. However, circumstances force her to take on a menial job at the local manor house. Here, because of her knowledge, she is looked down upon by the majority of the servants. Her employers aren't happy about her brain power either...................This story is set in rural Northumbria in the 1830s.................Another captivating story by CC.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 13 Aug 2014
By 
Rudi Viszkok (West Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Black Velvet Gown [DVD] (DVD)
My wife loves this Dvd.
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