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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun but not (entirely) factual
I have been hooked on the Preraphaelite Brotherhood since I was a teenager. A print of Hunt's "Light of the World" adorned my bedroom wall for years, and Rossetti's damsels fired my adolescent imagination, in the days when one didn't talk about sex.

Living abroad, I missed the TV showing of "Desperate Romantics", but jumped on the DVD as soon as it came out. My...
Published on 1 Nov 2009 by Gillian Baermann

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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Spoiled by inaccuracy
Having been interested in the pre-raphaelites for a long time, I greatly looked forward to watching this dramatisation, hoping to see these extraordinary characters brought to life. While I understand that dramatisation does demand some artistic licence with historical events, I found this production played way too fast and loose with the facts, and seemed to sacrifice...
Published on 18 July 2010 by Diana


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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun but not (entirely) factual, 1 Nov 2009
By 
Gillian Baermann (Elmshorn, Germany) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Desperate Romantics [DVD] (DVD)
I have been hooked on the Preraphaelite Brotherhood since I was a teenager. A print of Hunt's "Light of the World" adorned my bedroom wall for years, and Rossetti's damsels fired my adolescent imagination, in the days when one didn't talk about sex.

Living abroad, I missed the TV showing of "Desperate Romantics", but jumped on the DVD as soon as it came out. My first reaction was: "No! This is not they!" Rossetti all too often often comes across as a shallow cad, which he probably was. However, the final shot takes liberties, even with this libertine. We see him gambolling across the grass with his book of poems under his arm, having exhumed them from wife Lizzy's grave. What we are not told in the film is that he then suffered extreme guilt, which probably contributed ultimately to his substance abuse and mental breakdown. We are left at the end of the series with the feeling that he got away with living fast and loose. As far as the other characters go, Hunt's religious fervour is beautifully portrayed, and Ruskin is just how I imagine him to have been, intellectual, dignified, but lacking in masculinity. Millais comes across as priggish and boring, where he was arguably the most brilliant of the painters in question. But who the heck is Fred? It jars to have an omniscient narrator commenting on these larger-than-life figures, especially as he never existed. The women, without exception, are beautifully chosen, and, to use the Preraphaelite term, stunners.
My opinion: Once past the first episode, I suspended my disbelief, and became, yes, hooked. The whole thing is a romp, raunchy, sexy, modern, fun. The opening titles and the introductory music are superb, and there is definitely enough truth in the storyline to present a fascinating picture of these incredible men (and women). Watch it!
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Entertainment, 6 Aug 2009
By 
M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Desperate Romantics [DVD] (DVD)
In the last few years the BBC have shown how good they are at making programmes that have been more quirky and 'out of the box'. When you think of Rome or Larkrise to Candleford you know where I am coming from. What the writer of this series, Peter Bowker has done is made something that is highly entertaining, informative, based on fact but with a little licence taken, such as was done with the brilliant Casanova [2005] [DVD].

Rossetti, Hunt and Millais were the main members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood as shown here, but there were others. Combining fact with fiction and adding some humour this series will hopefully make people more aware of the art that has been produced in this country over the years and may even encourage people to look deeper into our history.

Today where we see some absolutely bizarre things that are promoted as art it seems funny to us that back in the nineteenth century these artists could cause such a stir in the art world by these paintings, which to us are not shocking or even obscene. What the Brotherhood set out to do was revitilise the Royal Academy and art in this country and in that process they also became superstars.

With brilliant casting and great writing this series is not only highly interesting but also fantastic entertainment. I would recommend this to anyone and also Franny Moyle (an executive producer of this series) has written a great pop art history book that gives a more factual approach to the Brotherhood which makes a great accompaniment.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sex, drugs and rock'n'roll - Victorian-style, 24 July 2009
This review is from: Desperate Romantics [DVD] (DVD)
This is an engaging romp about the louche, proto-punk "alpha-fops" who founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The name reflected their rejection of Raphael's "grand manner" as they championed a more realistic style combined with symbolism (mostly Christian and mythological).

Using a fictional narrator (the diffident but awestruck diarist Fred Walters), and a brash, glam-rock score by Daniel Pemberton, Peter Bowker's dramatisation of Franny Moyle's Desperate Romantics: The Private Lives of the Pre-Raphaelites recreates real events. Flame-haired hat-shop girl-turned-model/Muse Lizzie Siddal models for Millais's iconic ''Ophelia'' in a full bath warmed by dozens of candles; Charles Dickens pours scorn on John Millais's ''Christ in the House of His Parents,'' accusing it of blasphemy; the repressed influential critic John Ruskin (Tom Hollander - wonderful) is sexually repelled by his wife Effie, leaving the way open for her to fall in love with the engaging, affable Millais.

The story follows the hungry, ambitious group through the dingy brothels and shops, on their search for Muses and models; in their studios, getting and losing inspiration - and having sex; humbled by old fogeys, while seeking sponsorship at Royal Academy (R.A.) exhibitions. Oozing talent and testosterone, Rossetti (Aidan Turner) emerges as the leader of the pack, although the personalities are all distinctive and beautifully acted.

Beginning in the prime of their lives, this adaptation inexorably points towards the dark outcomes that lay ahead for some of the Brotherhood (notably not Millais - he became President of the R.A.).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Here in your living room, right here, right now, 23 April 2011
By 
L. Camidge "Linda Camidge" (Penzance UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Desperate Romantics [DVD] (DVD)
Like thousands of other people with an unhealthy pre-Raphaelite biography habit (okay, obsession), I could supply a long and tedious list of the "errors" in this series. But factual accuracy (as Dickens knew) can only take us so far. It is made pretty clear that Desperate Romantics isn't in that game; isn't even trying. We are supplied with a clear weekly disclaimer, a witty title that refers to another work of TV fiction, and anyone following up their viewing with even the most cursory research will discover soon enough that one of the main characters is a complete invention.

The past has gone and we can never really know - viscerally - what it was like. And there is a risk that, the more we read, the more our knowledge of other days and other lives is freighted with knowledge at the expense of engagement. But by some alchemy, imaginative TV and film can wreak a marvellous feat of resurrection. When the modern imagination takes up the past - rifling the texts, rampaging in the (usually metaphorical, but in this instance literal) graveyards and taking all manner of liberties - the result is often compelling.Costume drama of the conventional kind just doesn't do it, at least not for me. No, it's that wrenching round of the past to align with the present; the striking and deliberate archaism dropped into otherwise contemporary phrasing; flamboyant 21st century sexuality played out against nineteenth century lighting, set-dressing and costume. Your favourite bit of cultural history is here in your living room - and this time you can see and hear it live. Whether you're ready or not, whether it's realistic or not, it's come through into your 21st century head.

And so this wonderful, post-modern world we live in brings the dead alive, although probably not as they would have wished. We'll never know about that, although one assumes that if any of the real-life protagonists had retained enough of an individual identity in the great beyond to know or care what modern TV has made of them, Broadcasting House would have been in receipt of a few disabling thunderbolts by now. The most deserved of these would have come from William Morris, the only character who strikes a false note in that the portrayal seems neither sympathetic nor prompted by what we know of his life and thought. Random injustice to the greatest thinker and human being, if not the most creative individual, amongst the lot of them - and he didn't really have to be in this series at all, did he? So the representation was gratuitous as well, and perhaps politically motivated.

Okay - so, like all the best pleasures, my enjoyment of Desperate Romantics has been attended with some unease. As the Victorians probably knew all too well, rightness - in the sense of rectitude rather than fitness for purpose - and propriety are tricky matters to address when they compromise our joys. As we are not Victorians, these issues are unlikely to exercise a TV company in comparison with ratings, word-of-mouth buzz, or saleability on DVD. And isn't it a nice little irony that the Pre-Raphaelites themselves did the mediaeval world much as their own has now been done by, and that the same parallel could be drawn between Rossetti's treatment of Dante's story and the BBC's treatment of his own.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DESPERATE FOR MORE, 10 April 2011
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This review is from: Desperate Romantics [DVD] (DVD)
Started to watch this when it was on the tele and was hooked .The story is humourous, sad and full of drama.I loved the cast particularly Aidan Turner and Rafe Spall,great actors.I knew little of the artists and their lives before this,but was very interested after, plus i love the victorian era.Wish they would make more like this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good fun!, 17 Mar 2011
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This review is from: Desperate Romantics [DVD] (DVD)
OK not a factual account of the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood but nevertheless an exciting romp that I thoroughly enjoyed having missed it when it was on TV. If it gets people intersted enough in Art to pick out the anomalies.... good!And Aidan Turner..... blimey... if only I were 30 years younger!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Desperately Romantic!, 28 Feb 2011
This review is from: Desperate Romantics [DVD] (DVD)
Saw the first few episodes when this wonderful show aired on TV but lost track of it at the time. Now having finally bought the DVD I can say I regret not sticking with it! I watched it all in one day, and what a day it was!

You don't need knowledge of the PRB to enjoy this, in fact it very much stands by itself. If you have a passion for history, art, love, sex (Yes there is a lot!) and of course bromance then Desperate Romantics is for you. Although if like myself you know about The Brotherhood to some length anyway then this show serves as a nice extension of that knowledge, not to be taken completely historically accurate but definitely a lot of fun!

The cast is amazing. Rafe Spall was the perfect William Holman Hunt; intelligent, deep, rigid, stern...and of course a little mad! Aidan Turner's Dante Gabriel Rossetti was well...outstanding! He possessed all the right qualities and showed both the good and bad sides of Rossetti's personality extraordinarily well. And talk about intense! If you haven't already I suggest you check out Turner reading some of Rossetti's poetry on youtube. Really inspiring!

Desperate Romantics is not your usual costume drama. It is energetic, fun, sexy, witty, at times sad but above all incredibly entertaining! It's a very good introduction to the PRB, and I hope it will encourage people to look into their work as it is truly magnificent! I give it five stars!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An investment you will not regret, 15 Mar 2011
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This review is from: Desperate Romantics [DVD] (DVD)
You want to know about artists lives, or what the creative process implies, you care for 19th century painters, or you are an incurable romantic at heart. This dvd set will give it all. Excellent cast, A Turner awesome as usual, Amy Manson as lovely as ever. Good book, spot on scenario, excellent directing, what one can ask for, but...more!!!!!!!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars pre-raphaelites, 19 Feb 2011
This review is from: Desperate Romantics [DVD] (DVD)
Excellent BBC Drama. Brings the Pre Raphaelite era to life. Puts the meat on the bones, so to speak. The acting is superb, the costumes totally believable of the time. A chance to see 'behind the scenes' of some of the greatest artists of Victorian England.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and enlightening, 31 Aug 2009
This review is from: Desperate Romantics [DVD] (DVD)
Just to add to the huge amount of critical praise that this BBC2 series has received on amazon - I didn't really expect to enjoy this, but found myself being drawn in by revelations about Ruskin, Millais, Hunt, Rosetti and Siddall that I couldn't believe was true whilst I was watching the programme, only to find, after doing some desktop-based research that the events depicted in the series are based closely on the reality.

I particularly enjoyed the euphamisms that the series churned out every week - the writers must have had fun coming up with expressions like "the last time I get to longe a stunner" and "my below-decks", whilst others are probably a bit too racy to type on an amazon review....

A fun, informative, eye-opening series about an important time in British art, made all the more entertaining by strong acting, a rompish storyline and hilarious dialogue. Definitely one not to miss out on.
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