140 of 149 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant Forsyte remake for the modern generation.
For those of you who are very fond of the original black/white series, do not fear. This new adaptation takes nothing away from the beloved earlier version, but rather takes a fresh and modern look at the novel.
We begin in the late Victorian period with the Forsytes, a very rich and powerful family who appear to have it all on the outside, but underneath lies...
Published on 9 Jun 2008 by H. L. GLAZIER
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Adaptation
I have to agree with Judith about this version. I know they adapt books and I am not a purist as I thought they did sterling work on Lord of the rings triology considering what a mighty work Jackson and Co had to contend with, but I felt Irene was all wrong. Nothing against Gina McKee, but she was all wrong for the part. Nyree Dawn Porter was so lovely in the 60s...
Published on 20 Mar 2010 by C. Brown
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140 of 149 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant Forsyte remake for the modern generation.,
This review is from: The Complete Forsyte Saga [DVD] (DVD)For those of you who are very fond of the original black/white series, do not fear. This new adaptation takes nothing away from the beloved earlier version, but rather takes a fresh and modern look at the novel.
We begin in the late Victorian period with the Forsytes, a very rich and powerful family who appear to have it all on the outside, but underneath lies deceit, betrayal, unhappiness and affairs.
Young Jolyon Foryste (Rupert Graves) is stuck in a loveless marriage with only his young daughter, June, as his happiness. When Jolyon falls in love with his daughter's nanny and leaves his wife, he is cast out by his father, Jolyon Forsyte Sr (Corin Redgrave brilliantly cast) and left to live in poverty.
Years later, Jolyon Sr is now looking after his beloved granddaughter, June (Gillian Kearney) and has come to deeply regret his estrangement with his son.
As he tries to rebuild a relationship lost, meanwhile the story now has shifted focus to the other side of the family - to Jolyon Sr's brother, James Forsyte, and his son Soames and daughter Winifred.
Young Soames (Damian Lewis), a solicitor attached to his father's business, has been brought up to think that men have higher rights over women and that people should follow codes of honor and duty.
When he meets pretty Irene (Gina McKee) he instantly becomes infatuated by her. Despite her reservations and concerns, Irene is pushed into marrying Soames for security. However she soon finds herself suffocated by a lonely marriage, after Soames becomes possesive and overbearing.
As her hatred towards her husband grows, tensions arise within the Forsytes, and tragedy ensues when Irene embarkes on a passionate affair with June's fiancee, the handsome Phillip Bosinney (Ioan Gruffudd).
The second series continues to be as addictive and enthrawling as the first, with a new generation of Forsyte's taking centre stage just as the 19th century unfolds - bringing with it new fashions, art, music and technology.
As the years roll by, cracks appear across the whole family when Forsytes fall in love with other Forsytes, money is gambled away, affairs ruin friendships, and a whole generation of old and new come and go.
The Forsyte Saga is an exciting and addictive drama that you never want to end. The acting and casting is superb. Rupert Graves and Damian Lewis in particular shine in their roles, the supporting cast (including Gillian Kearney, Amanda Root and Ben Miles) and later in the second series the two young leads (Emma Griffiths Malin and Lee Williams) are brilliant and the bright costumes and locations just adds to the perfection.
The only thing I would say I didnt like was the casting of Irene (Gina McKee). McKee is without a doubt a brilliant actress, and here she does well, but she doesn't look the part. I don't see why Soames and her future lovers, including Phillip Bosinney, would be so infatuated by her. She is not especially 'attractive and beautiful', as she is constantly described and her portrayal is also very under stated.
However If you love period romances and dramas, then this modern Forsyte Saga complete series is for you!
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best period drama series since Pride & Prejudice,
This review is from: The Complete Forsyte Saga [DVD] (DVD)The Forsyte Saga is so much more than just a period drama- it encapsulates a bygone time in its sweeping satire of Victorian family life and class values.
The plot focuses on the two conflicting sides of the Forsyte family, the children of elderly brothers James and Jolyon. Firstly, we have the open-minded but principled Jolyon Jnr (Graves). Having married a woman he did not love, Jolyon finds himself falling for Helene Hilner, his young daughter June's governess. When he commits the then scandalous act of leaving his wife for Helene, Jolyon is cut off by his father, Jolyon Snr (a perfectly cast Corrin Redgrave), and the rest of the family. Jolyon sets out to make a living with his artistic talents while he and Helene have two children, Holly and Joly. Years pass, and Jolyon Snr, now June's guardian, comes to regret his estrangement with his son, and seeks to make amends.
The other focus of the plot is on James's son, Soames (Lewis). Soames, the strictly proper but repressed 'man of property' meets and falls in love with the captivating and free-thinking Irene Heron, an orphan whose materialistic stepmother virtually forces reluctant Irene (Gina McKee) into marriage with him. Despite her friendship with Winifred (the charming Amanda Root) Soames's sister, and the now grow-up June, Irene just can't reconcile herself to this unsuited marriage and her controlling husband. When June's free-spirited architect fiance, Philip Bossiney (Gruffyd), arrives on the scene commissioned by Soames to build a country retreat for Irene and him, Irene realises what she's been missing and embarks on a dangerous affair that ends in tragedy and destruction.
The second series, To Let, focuses on the relationship between Jolyon's youngest son, Jon, and Soames's only child, his beloved Fleur. Set after WWI in the decadent 20s, the Forsyte family are still a constant force despite the changes that have wracked society. These star-crossed lovers who are determined to be together at any cost inadvertantly force their parents to confront their pasts, but can their relationship survive the revelations that ensue? Fleur, who begins as an indulged and coquettish beauty, is grounded and softened by suffering into acceptance that money cannot buy everything. One is left feeling that she will be happy despite this. Again, this saga follows on the themes of love, posession, loss, and the salvaging of something good from past wrongs and hurts, not just for the Forsyte family, but for society in England after the first World War.
But the Forsyte Saga shows life goes on and is touching, charming and humerous despite the grimmer aspects of the plot. The plot is much more three-dimensional than the synopsis I've just given, and the simplistic idea of heroes, victims and villains is much more carefully dealt with. The beauty of this production is that is encapsulates human flaws and the innate spirit of human goodness and redemption utterly. Damien Lewis deserves a wealth of credit for his portrayal of Soames, a much more complicated and understandable character that at first sight.
My only concern with the casting was that of Gina McKee as Irene. I felt that she wasn't quite alluring and captivating enough, in every aspect, to be as desired as she is in the book. I felt McKee played her slightly too aloofly, although she warmed up during the second half. The rest of the cast are, rarely, all excellent. Rupert Graves gives the performance of a lifetime as the Rosetti-like Jolyon Jnr, Amanda Root is perfect as the warm-hearted, witty and hard-done-by Winifred, and Ben Miles as her loveable ne'er do well husband provides much humour to the storyline. Barbara Flynn gives a great performance as Soames's and Winifred's loving and loyal mother, Emily, and Gillian Kearney is fabulous as the impassioned and compassionate June, who matures as the saga unfolds. Of the second series, Emma Griffiths Malin deserves credit for her performance of Fleur, and Oliver Milburn is humerous, charming and sincere as her 'consolation prize'.
This is one period drama that should not be missed. Utterly enjoyable, lavishly produced and a real gem.
55 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Forsyte Saga or the Art of Letting Go,
This review is from: The Complete Forsyte Saga [DVD] (DVD)The 2002/2003 Forsyte Saga version of John Galsworthy's novels, starring Damian Lewis, Gina McKee, Amanda Root, Colin Redgrave and Rupert Graves, is a Granada and WGBH Boston co-production. Although, many would label the series a remake of the 1967 BBC version, it is not. This is a free adaptation of Galsworthy's three novels and two interludes (The Man of Property, Indian Summer of a Forsyte, In Chancery, Awakening and To Let). The saga chronicles the lives of an upper-middle-class British family, from the beginning of the 19th century to the 1930s. Directed by Andy Wilson, produced by David Boulter and Sita Williams and adapted by Kate Brooke and Phil Woods, the Forsyte saga is definitively a saga that shakes things up. In two discs and ten episodes, we will follow the story of Soames Forsyte (Damian Lewis) - a rich solicitor who pictures himself as the family's upholder of moral values - and other characters. Soames also has a genuine gift for always saying or doing the wrong thing, at the wrong time and to the wrong person. Which he does when he marries Irene Heron (Gina McKee - astonishingly beautiful). Unfortunately, it will take him almost the ten episodes to realize that. Meanwhile, we follow the busy lives of the other Forsytes, their ups and downs and the way they relate to the family's values (money, possessions, power), especially when confronted with those of no-property (Irene, young Jolyon, Bosinney, Jon and at times, the old Jolyon too). The interesting thing about this saga is the way it deals with its own subject matter. When we might expect a traditional costume drama, with one-dimensional characters, the saga is actually everything but predictable. In fact, the complexity of the characters - Soames being the most tortured and troubled one - is well-rendered in the visual style of the series, oscillating between long and close-up shots, between old fashion feels and boundary-cross scenes of intimacy. Nothing is completely what it seems, people often wear masks, yet underneath the facade they too experience passions, betrayals and violent impulses and got dragged into intrigues. There is a sense of modernity alongside the Victorianism, an outsider view of bourgeoisie, which gives away Galsworthy's own experience of playing both sides, so to speak. There have been rumours that Galsworthy put a lot of his own life into Soames and Irene characters, as a way of settling scores with his oppressive class, the way he had to live a painful double life with his beloved mistress Ada Nemesis Pearson Cooper, whom he would eventually marry, despite the family's disapproval. If anything, Galsworthy/Irene/young Jolyon are daring 'characters', jumping out of the cosy nest in the name of love. Of course, there is a terrible price to pay for that, but who said life ought to be easy and pleasant? Perhaps, this is why I enjoyed the 2002/2003 Forsyte Saga so much. While much of the story is about possessions, and all the silly things they make you do, I still can relate to these characters (especially Irene). Its language and concerns are modern enough to make you part of the story, to identify perhaps with some of the flawed characters. Shot almost entirely near Manchester, the Forsyte Saga is a delight for both the eye and the heart. The four disc box-set comprises the ten episodes, along with English and HOH English subtitles. There is an interactive menu for a total running time of 699 minutes. Lastly, a special treat with the main theme soundtrack interpreted by Bryn Terfel (Life is a Dance We Must Learn). I don't know for you folks, but at the end of the saga, I felt nothing but the pressing need of letting go things and enjoy just being here. Zen and all that...
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Adaptation,
This review is from: The Complete Forsyte Saga [DVD] (DVD)I have to agree with Judith about this version. I know they adapt books and I am not a purist as I thought they did sterling work on Lord of the rings triology considering what a mighty work Jackson and Co had to contend with, but I felt Irene was all wrong. Nothing against Gina McKee, but she was all wrong for the part. Nyree Dawn Porter was so lovely in the 60s version, and yes, blonde and passionate when she found love. Even when Gina McKee was happy, she still looked as if she'd been slapped in the face with a wet fish. On the other hand, I loved Corin Redgrave and Rupert Graves. Bosinney very good too. I also had trouble with the ageing. And I couldnt cope with Barbara Flynn being Damian Lewis' mother, at one point I thought she was his sister! But I think thats because I still remember her in very sexy roles. She suddenly seems to be playing lots of staid, matronly parts. Is this what we do to actresses over 40?
One good thing though, its made me want to re-read the novels.
I would recommend this dvd as a preliminary to reading the novels for anyone who hasnt read it but be ready to be disappointed.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just wonderful,
This review is from: The Complete Forsyte Saga [DVD] (DVD)I have read all of the Forsyte Saga books and this is a terrific version of the story. Every one of the cast is perfect in their roles and just as I imagined them - except Irene. I have to say that although Gina McKee gives a wonderfully sensitive performance, she just isn't the blonde-haired, dark-eyed, delicate beauty that Galsworthy describes.
However, if you are not a purist about that, then the rest of the story will delight. The older version of the Saga tends to try and make Soames out to be a bit of a villain - which he isn't really. Yes he is chauventistic and a bit of a straight-laced Victorian, but the story is all about the changing values and mores of society at a turbulent period in history. We see in Soames someone who is confused and frequently lost as all the values by which he and his parents have lived their lives are swept away at the turn of the new 20th century with technology and social upheaval. The story focuses on these changes through the lens of the effects they had on one family - the Forsytes - who had epitomised the successful Victorian family. This is an excellent version of it - and I just wished they'd gone on and made the next series of episodes that Galsworthy wrote about (The White Monkey/ The Silver Spoon /Swan Song) about Soames and his relationship with Fleur when she's married to Michael Mont.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant,
This review is from: The Complete Forsyte Saga [DVD] (DVD)I bought this product as a gift for my mum and she absolutely loved it!! It's a great period drama for anyone who's interested in anything like that!!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great,
This review is from: The Complete Forsyte Saga [DVD] (DVD)Charming and scandalous. It is fabulous story and production. The acting is very good and the characters have very beautiful costumes and intriguing relationships. Love love love.
I haven't seen the original but I find it splendid!
20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Well .... sorry folks, but I did NOT like it!,
This review is from: The Complete Forsyte Saga [DVD] (DVD)Yes, the costumes, scenery, etc., were great BUT a lot of the body of the actual book was altered - I know that an adaptation from a book has, of necessity, to have a lot of additional dialogue, obviously surmized from the book, but WHY alter a lot of the actual scenes Galsworthy wrote?
The same conclusions of the book are arrived at but, the actual leads up to them differ greatly; another real annoyance about this version is the way the actual characters were cast, witness, in the book, Irene was willowy and blonde ( her hair colour actually described by Galsworthy as feuilles mortes) - in the TV version she was played by a tall, thin actress with hunched shoulders, who had DARK hair and who is nothing like the actual beauty Galsworthy described. She actually looked throughout the whole series as if she was suffering from an obscure physical pain and NEVER looked happy, even when she was supposedly blissfully married to Young Jolyon. I could understand it during her 'Soames' years but not ALL the time.
Fleur, also, in the book had 'shingled' hair and was tiny but in this version was played by someone who looked entirely different. Why do TV companies feel that they know best; have the main instigators never actually read the books they decide to adapt? Young Jon Forsyte (Irene's son by young Jolyon) was blond in the book, very DARK haired in this version.
I could go on....so just have to say, the only characters who actually fitted the Galsworthy description were June (Young Jolyon's daughter by his first wife), with the exception that HER hair colour was wrong too, and the handsome Ioan Gruffydd, VERY well cast as the Byronic Philip Bossiney. There again, June, when she was supposed to be in her early fifties, still looked about 25, along with most of the other actors who all looked too young for their supposed ages - the technicians in the make-up department of this adaptation obviously were unable to fulfil their role. (They did not have to age Ioan Gruffydd as his character died young).
I have to say that Damian Lewis, who played Soames, is an excellent actor and did his best, but Soames with bright red hair ( albeit slicked down to try to conform)I ask you? All, in all I did not like this version, as you can probably tell, but, nevertheless, for people who have not actually read the Forsyte Saga it makes fairly good entertainment.
52 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Si graçieux et magnifique!!!!!,
This review is from: The Complete Forsyte Saga [DVD] (DVD)Mon anglais est si mauvais que je m'abstiens par égard pour tous d'en faire étalage!!! Ce commentaire surtout destiné aux personnes françaises qui comme moi adorent ces superbes sagas en langue anglaise pour leur grande et superbe qualité et qui une fois encore ne démentent pas leur réputation: c'est grandiose! Et contrairement à ce que je peux lire sur les quelques réserves autour de Gina McKee pour le rôle d'Irene, je la trouve personnellement d'une grâce infinie, simplement parce qu'elle épouse les traits mondains et libres des peintures de J.S Sargent ou de Boldini et qu'elle incarne là cette douce liberté qui a fondé la femme moderne. Dommage que nous n'ayons pas en France beaucoup d'acteurs d'une telle envergure. Seul bémol: pensez à nous avec un sous titrage en français!!!
5.0 out of 5 stars A true family saga,
This review is from: The Complete Forsyte Saga [DVD] (DVD)An absolutely excellent story to watch and get involved in. Had to watch in small doses as it was so intense and the acting so professional one really got involved in the plot.
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The Complete Forsyte Saga [DVD] by John Carlise (DVD - 2009)