60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very uncivil war with a view!
I first saw this series when it was first shown on Channel 4 and was overwhelmed by the production design. Although the story is a variation on "Forever Amber" and showcases plenty of bodice-ripping interludes, it is overshadowed by the quite magnificent scenery, restricted colour palettes and costume design, possibly the most authentically impressive of any I have seen...
Published on 5 Mar 2010 by A. Luddite
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Category romance with an epic background
A Ménage à Quatre Drama with brilliant costumes and an impressive assembly of characters. We follow the turmoil of the times of Oliver Cromwell and Charles I through the experiences of Angelica Fanshawe, played by a convincing and beautiful Andrea Riseborough. Through her we get to see many persons and events. From the land owning gentry to the very poor as...
Published on 4 Aug 2009 by Gisli Jokull Gislason
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60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very uncivil war with a view!,
This review is from: The Devil's Whore [DVD]  (DVD)I first saw this series when it was first shown on Channel 4 and was overwhelmed by the production design. Although the story is a variation on "Forever Amber" and showcases plenty of bodice-ripping interludes, it is overshadowed by the quite magnificent scenery, restricted colour palettes and costume design, possibly the most authentically impressive of any I have seen in a television drama. The set pieces of Charles I's court, trial and execution are astounding and Peter Capaldi must have really immersed himself in research to have achieved the perfect mirror image of the monarch himself, somehow juxtaposing the regal arrogance of God's annointed with the trembling humanity of the condemned man and achieving what Bernini is said to have remarked upon receiving Van Dyke's portrait; "He hath the most unfortunate face I have ever looked upon".
There are weaknesses, of course. Historical facts have been twisted to accomodate the plotline and there is little evidence of Oliver Cromwell being the devout family man of his private life, as his own family are never seen. There is a confusion in direction, with Sexby changing sides in almost every episode but then this is essentially a story of love in war.
Story aside, this is an extrordinary visual event; put away the text books and enjoy the view. Fantastic.
108 of 115 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Swashbuckling, lavish and gritty drama,
This review is from: The Devil's Whore [DVD]  (DVD)As with many 'period' dramas, The Devil's Whore is guilty of bending the truth somewhat. The best way to approach this sort of drama is to take it for what it is, a very entertaining series that, admittedly, would have probably been given 5 stars had it been longer, but the condensing of what was originally intended to be a ten episode drama into 4 episodes was the consequence of the BBC's decision to bump the drama to Channel 4.
Andrea Riseborough is a huge success as the intoxicatingly unconventional Van Dyck-esque Angelica Fanshawe, the central (fictional) character who unites the important people and events of the Civil War and Interregnum. But this political upheaval provides more or less the background to her life.
Starting out as a doll-like debutant courtier, she is troubled by having seen the Devil during certain instances in her life (a little bit of an unnecessary inclusion to an otherwise excellent story-line in my view).
Angelica is married with the encouragement of her guardian, King Charles, to her cousin and childhood friend, Harry Fanshawe. At this time,she comes into contact with hardened mercenery Edward Sexby, and is initially both repelled and intrigued by his thirst for battle and his drifting way of life. As the grimness of the Civil War unfolds, Angelica's boyish husband finds himself in deep water in command of Roylist troops. Demonstrating his military inexperience, he suffers an ebarassing defeat by Cromwell's troops, and King Charles is less than forgiving to the unfortunate pair.
Widowed and helpless, Angelica attracts unwanted advances from a chauvenistic merchant and accidentally gets embroiled in a murder scandal that won't seem to leave her alone. She crosses paths with Edward Sexby, and the pair, world-weary from their shoddy treatment at the hands of the royalists, change alliegence. Angelica is still in constant danger though, and Sexby, who harbours a secret love for her, is her only protector.
By this time, Angelica meets the charismatic political idealist Thomas Rainsborough, and they almost instantly fall in love, but in a time of such treacherous political instabilty, their happiness cannot last.
The action is gritty and suspenseful, even if large chunks of history are left out and Oliver Cromwell is shown in a somewhat lenient light. Michael Fassbender deserves credit for his strong performance as the principled but passionate Raisnborough. But it is John Simm that, for me, steals the show. Standing with quiet but passionate devotion on the sidelines of Angelica's life for so long, his masculinity and mystery is genuinely compelling, and he is the true swashbuckling hero of the drama as he wades in to defend Angelica and save the day and win her love, in uncertain times, danger, betrayal and retributution constantly lie around the corner and Angelica finds she has to take the law into her own hands and rely on her wits for her survival and happiness.
All in all, a thrilling, quality drama that just deserved to be longer.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Viewing for History Buffs,
This review is from: The Devil's Whore [DVD]  (DVD)It is a tragedy that The Devil's Whore was never made as it was originally intended, in its full extended version. As it is, it is a flawed masterpiece.
The irritating signs of violent editing, to squeeze the story into four paltry episodes (events jump by as much a 3-4 years at a time) is more than made up for by the vivid characterisation of one woman's rite of passage to emancipation and graphic portrayal on the only full-blown revolution the UK has ever experienced.
Gratifyingly absent is the saccarine overlay of Cavalier romanticism of previous TV series like By The Sword Divided.
The characters portrayed on the Parliamentary side - Cromwell, Rainsborough, 'Free-born' John Lilburne - are terrifying and admirable at the same time, advocating ideas centuries ahead of their time (universal sufferage, equal rights for women) and attempting to yank the conservative population of England into the modern age, whether it wanted to or not. Who'd have ever thought a popular TV series would make popular characters of The Levellers and The Diggers?
This is absolutely required viewing for anyone who wants the real story of the English Civil War, free of the naive simplicities of 1066 and all that!!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent,
This review is from: The Devil's Whore [DVD]  (DVD)Excellent, well made, well acted docudrama, bring the relatively unknown story of the British civil war to the masses. Highly recommendable, a classic drama of a quality surprising of channel 4 and up there with the best of bbc in my opinion.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, Poignant, Profound,
This review is from: The Devil's Whore [DVD]  (DVD)An amazingly compact narrative packs a remarkable amount of emotion and philosophical musing into a sweeping narrative; this is television that delivers all the satisfactions of the old-fashioned novel.
With a title like "The Devil's Whore" we are prepared for a rip-roaring bodice-ripper...and while bodices are indeed ripped...nay, shredded!...there is oh so much more going on here. Love long-denied over decades of tumultuous civil war, labyrinthine tests of loyalty, vengeance played out over decades, and various other devices create a nonstop narrative drive; try coming to the end of one episode without wanting to watch the next one at once. But at the very heart of this story is an inquiry into the deepest questions of existence: who are we amid our fellow humans, what force or forces rule the universe, and what does freedom really mean? A restless intelligence moves through this story, suffusing it with heartbreaking insight.
Kudos to the whole cast, to a counter-intuitive musical track, and to the splendid visual sense that informs the whole production.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The acting in this one is worth the money but the story is very entertaining.,
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This review is from: The Devil's Whore [DVD]  (DVD)Fassbender, West and Simm - in one romantic romp - what more is there to say? Oh, Andrea Risborough is just wonderful!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A definite MUST SEE!,
This review is from: The Devil's Whore [DVD]  (DVD)This period drama contains everything that you could wish for...action, romance, tragedy, elements of comedy - mainly due to the perfect wit given by john simm's character - aspects of religion, and not to mention the beautiful costumes! Andrea Riseborough gives a truly fantastic performance among this brilliant cast. The story line is exciting and enticing and will have you glued to the screen and unable to sit still. In addition the music score perfectly completes this drama.
31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable achievement,
This review is from: The Devil's Whore [DVD]  (DVD)I loved watching this series when it was shown on Channel four. Both leading actors, Simm and Riseborough, were excellent and the supporting cast didn't let them down.John Simm on his own would have made watching this worth while.His character is so full of contradictions that he is fascinating. A blood-thirsty mercenary, fiercely loyal,capable of dealing with unrequited love without taking advantage when it would have been so easy for him, his silent, brooding presence is mesmerising. Capaldi made a very convincing king Charles the first, showing facets of his personality that enabled us both to understand him and sometimes pity him. Dominic West is a first quality actor and his portrayal of Cromwell was interesting in all its ambiguities.Difficult to like and difficult to loathe! I am no historian so I won't give an opinion on accuracy. Visually, this series was striking and I must congratulate the make up artists who managed to age Riseborough in a very convincing manner. This is so rarely the case it deserves to be mentioned.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth buying!,
This review is from: The Devil's Whore [DVD]  (DVD)One of the stand out features of this series is the imagery of the production, it has a beautifully gritty feeling to it in terms of colour and photography.
One of the first things I did after watching this DVD is go out and find out more about the characters featured which in my opinion shows that is well worth watching, if you watch something and have not learnt anything or have no desire to learn more about what you have just watched then you've just wasted your time.
I've seen a lot of TV box set series and this is up there with some of what I consider the best although I only gave it 4 stars as it just didn't go on long enough for me and I know it was originally meant to be 10 episodes, using Angela Fanshaw to tell the story of the English Civil War I thought was particularly effective technique and I was introduced to some of the arguments and debates that raged at that time.
After watching this I was ashamed of how ignorant I was of the English Civil War, I actually know more about the American Civil War! Thomas Rainsborough was the first character I went away and looked up as I found him to be particularly interesting.
Its worth buying this on DVD as it something you would watch more than once, especially if you come to it as ignorantly as I did, you'll go away looking things up and then rewatching it.
The cast is brilliant with Dominic West (The Wire) and John Simm, Tom Goodman Hill, Michael Fassbender, Andrea Riseborough, Peter Calpaldi in particular was excellent as King Charles I.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Close, but still Hollywood!,
This review is from: The Devil's Whore [DVD]  (DVD)Firstly let me say I really enjoyed this production. It had the feel for the period which is so often lost in big productions. The storyline is excellent and thw whole thing very watchable. If you are into historical drama I would say this is a must.
What was missing was the real sense that England was going through one of the bloodiest periods of it's history with a nation torn to pieces and brother set against brother. Clearly something was going on but to the uninitiated you would not really guess what and why? The story came over as several seperate jeopardies our herione had to pass through.
I was left with the feeling that this was a bigger production cut down to fit four episodes. As an amatuer historian I had to ask where was Tom Fairfax? What happened to the glamourous Prince Rupert who appeared then simply disapppeared? Marston Moor? Naseby?
Having said all of that, a damn good ripping yarn and I guess that is what the BBC wanted!
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The Devil's Whore [DVD]  by Andrea Riseborough (DVD - 2009)