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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality viewing, sadly like its subject matter now part of history,
This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)I bought this wondering whether my memories of the quality of the stories, the acting and beautiful locations in India would match the reality of watching this series 25 years on.I am delighted to say that the quality I recalled was not idle nostalgia but was based on a true recollection of the sheer quality of the production values and the enjoyment of watching a long series over a number of weeks ,just as was done in the 1980s.The slow pace IS one of the great virtues affording time for the characters and varied parallel stories of the Raj in India to develop and allowing one's own thoughts about that period to mature.The finest acheivment of ITV and a worthy contender to the BBC's "Tinker Taylor.." series and "I, Claudius" as the finest British TV ever. I sadly feel it is true"They don't make programmes of this quality now"
79 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Granada's Crown Jewels,
This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)In the 1980s, Granada Television went for it. They realised they had the talent and the expertise to challenge the BBC's hitherto unassailable dominance of the 'classic serial' world. They also had the money to do a production proud.
'Brideshead Revisited' was the first epic from the Manchester-based company that made us all sit up and take notice: it was executed with such skill and sensitivity that no-one has ever forgotten it. We all wondered how they could possibly follow it. Follow it they did, almost at once, with 'The Jewel in the Crown' - which was actually in production at around the same time as 'Brideshead'.
This extraordinary series, based on 'The Raj Quartet' of novels by Paul Scott, turned out to be a piece of such powerful drama that it is virtually unassailable.
Yes, it's set in the dying days of the British rule in India - that painful time of handing over sovereignty, while all around are the ravages of World War II.
Nowadays, when it's still fashionable to beat ourselves up over the way the British carried on in the colonies, it's useful to have a drama like this to put some of the background into context. This exquisite series does it very well. Punctuated with the sparing but very effective use of authentic newsreel footage, it's an intense and often harrowing tale of divided loyalties, brooding passions, and twisted sexuality.
The rape of a young Englishwoman (Daphne Manners is definitely an adult - not a schoolgirl, as wrongly stated in the product description) triggers a drawn-out series of events whose outcome can only be tragic for those involved - and whose consequences are as far reaching as the hills that so often grace the horizon in this beautifully-shot piece of work.
It has often been been said that television drama is electronic theatre - not poor man's cinema. Here, a happy balance has been struck, and the luminous photography gives the whole thing an epic quality that is all too rare on the small screen.
The casting is perfect throughout, with a calibre of acting seldom equalled these days. Veteran stars (actors who really were stars of stage and screen) grace the credits: Peggy Ashcroft, Eric Porter, Rachel Kempson and the glorious Fabia Drake - these famous names rub shoulders with a galaxy of superbly-chosen younger performers; as an ensemble, the cast is second to none, blessed with a script by Ken Taylor that is so well constructed and written that every clipped and strait-jacketed line conveys the seething and tortured relationships of these fascinating characters.
A worthy companion to 'Brideshead Revisited', 'I, Claudius', 'War & Peace', and the 1967 'Forsyte Saga' these fourteen wonderful episodes can justifiably be regarded as one of the finest jewels in the crown of television drama. Once seen, this series is hard to forget.
Trust me, it's DEFINITELY one for the collection, as a reminder of just how well things were done (no, they do not make 'em like this nowadays) and repeated viewing serves only to make the crown glitter even more brightly.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vastly better picture quality than the U.S. version,
This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)I'm in the U.S. and for years the only DVD available of this masterpiece was one with truly terrible picture quality. It literally looked like a home-made dub from a bad VHS tape. About once a year I would check out video retail sites to see if a newer release was in the offing. No such luck on the home front, but I started seeing mentions of this 2009 UK release including favorable comparisons with the old one.
I ordered it, and the reviews are right. The picture quality may not be exactly HD, but it's vastly better than the old US release . . . about a good as one could reasonably expect from film shot for TV in the early 1980s. Also, this version has subtitles, which were lacking in the old version (my wife has a hearing problem) and there are modern comments tracks on some of the episodes.
If you're in the states or Canada, you'll have to have the ability to play a region 2 PAL disk, but then, if you're interested enough to be reading this, you probably have that ability or know someone who can work it out for you. Ordering in the states from Amazon UK is a non-event: your log-in and one-click settings work just the way they do on the US site.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars jewel in the crown,
This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)I failed to see this in its original incarnation as an example of the golden age of ITV (cv: adaptation of Waugh's Brideshead). It is an immense epic which is not afraid to confront big issues which continue to haunt us Brits: how we managed the empire; how class still matters; grammar/public school and maleness/maternity. We've loved watching these 14 episodes, though night thoughts ensue in the early hours' wakefulness. Definitely worth buying-at this rate: twelve hours of intrigue and pleasure. How we all hate Meyrick!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Jewel in the Crown,
This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)This was a brilliant series in its day -- the sort of thing television doesn't do any more -- and stands the test of time well. It has been digitally re-mastered and is a joy to watch. Amazon, as always, is the perfect retailer.
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elite Literary Adaptation (And Not A BBC Product). Spellbinding.,
This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)One doesn't really associate ITV/Channel 3/Granada/LWT - whatever you wanna call them - with quality literary/costume adaptations, but this early '80s series about the last years of the British in India is not only that but superbly acted and visually beautiful, rich in texture and alive with enigmas, metaphors, unanswered questions.
I've just got through watching for the sixth or more time, with equal pleasure, and have been inspired to pick up the novel/s which inspired it.
The jewel in ITV's crown, intelligent, serious, exotic, and with nothing of the circus about it.
Recommended with the greatest enthusiasm.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Colonialism and the British class system,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)I too watched and enjoyed this series when it was first televised. Of course at that time we'd had nothing like "Heimat" - not to mention "The Wire". I've just finished watching the series for the second time on this DVD set. I enjoyed it immensely - for much the same reasons as many other reviewers have commented on. I would however say that the script sometimes flags a little. I found the excessive amount of time devoted to the "Barbie Batchelor" character played by Peggy Ashcroft a little wearisome.
The most revealing thing about this series is the light it throws on the British class system (I almost wrote "caste"...) I imagine we're all aware that the colonial system was run by the same classes who controlled everything at home, even if they often consigned their dimmer offspring to service in the colonies. There isn't a single likeable and well-adjusted working-class or even middle-class character in the story. Indeed the entire plot revolves around the loathsome grammar school boy Ronald Merrick's attempts to ascend the social ladder.
Whilst the story does a fine job of outlining the conflicts within the Indian independence movement it also reveals the vile social attitudes prevailing within the British ruling classes. Of course these days they've learned to disguise these attitudes much more effectively. However the instant recognition registered between characters the moment "Chillingborough" is mentioned gives cause for reflection on the current make-up of the British Cabinet. Plus ça change, as we say in Europe...
Not having read every review here let me add, in case no one else has, an honorable mention of Judy Parfitt for her brilliant reading of the foul, alcoholic, Mildred Layton. This performance stands with Tim Piggot-Smith's as JITC's principal villains.
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars better and better,
This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)This famous saga, without becoming dated in the least, goes on informing us of the kind of political intrigues and cover ups the British went in for completely at the expense of justice during the second world war in the lead up to Indian independence. It is a story which cannot fail to stir hearts and deals with such political issues within the parameters of the lives of individual characters and their experiences, mostly interwoven around the rape of a upper middle class English woman who falls in love with an Indian.
Personally I prefer it to the book which is its foundation The Raj Quartet of Paul Scott, which is fragmented and not an easy read.
The production is lavish and the acting utterly superb from all.
This particular anniversary edition has additional features including a chatty over film commentary which for real fans of the series is amusing and interesting.
The prevailing emotion that I am always left with after this series ends is a feeling of deep regret that the British ever occupied India but at the same time such a deep affection in my heart for India and the Indians which would never probably have been quite so deep without the long 'relationship' that developed during all the years we Brits were there.I for one hope that the Indians can find it in their hearts to forgive us and hope that they may realise that despite all the horrors that occur when a country occupies another that in this case there is a deep affection there too as well as shame in the hearts of many Brits.
The Jewel in the Crown (The Raj quartet)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JEWEL IN THE CROWN - Anniversary Edition available in the U.K.,
This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)Jewel in the Crown is an excellent production. We have watched it time and time again over the years. However, this particular edition is only available in the U.K. We ordered through them. The DVD arrived promptly by airmail and was securely packaged. We were very impressed with Amazon U.K.'s service Needless to say, we were delighted with this new edition of Jewel in the Crown. It is clean and bright...beautifully restored! Many thanks indeed.
Alex Donahoe, Sarasota, Florida, USA
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wellconsidered,
This review is from: The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] (DVD)I think this works superbly on a number of different levels. (1) The story itself is complex and the narration is less than straightforward, but Granada took the risk that they would be appealing to an adult (?a BBC) audience and refused to pander. (2) The production values were suberb. In terms of costs, filming on location for what must have been months could only have been epic - no TV company today (or their accountants) would countenance it, but it paid off. Visual authenticity was in the bloodstream of all 13 episodes. (3) The acting was superlative - four pages would be better than four words, but just trust me!(4) Above all, the series portrayed the moral ambiguities involved when an imperial power seeks to disengage with honour from a polity which has been created over the previous 300 years. This is not the place to enter into the debate about the rights and wrongs of colonialism, with particular reference to India, but one of the great strengths of the series (and the Scott novels) was that it allows us to draw our own conclusions, because it set such an overwhelming, almost geopolitical, theme in a very human context.
I used to believe that Brideshead Revisited was the acme of British television, but The Jewel reaches further, wider and deeper. Look on this, 21st century TV executives, and weep. Look on this, 21st century viewers,and rejoice.
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The Jewel In The Crown: The Complete Series [DVD] by Christopher Morahan (DVD - 2009)