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Gripping story, clunky production
on 31 January 2012
Having been enthralled by Wilkie Collins' novel, I felt it my duty to watch the BBC production of the same. It was always going to be a difficult screenplay, as the book is written from the perspectives of numerous different characters. The production shows its age, (early 80's) by its unnatural lighting and substandard sound, lacking the polish of more recent productions of this type. If one had not read the book, you would I think be a little confused about the goings on, as compressing the novel into 269 minutes was always going to mean things were left out. I suppose what is most disappointing is the superficial character development - Marian is such a strong, unusual character in the book, yet that is not fully explored in the movie. I was also hoping for more stirring passion between Walter and Laura - after all, their love is crucial to the story, and a little more suspense. In the book, it was so thrilling to realise that they didn't know that she had heard their plans, but then she subsequently doesn't know that they know that she knows... Wonderful stuff!
The Count does an okay job as the villain, but is not nearly as obese as the book would imply. The soundtrack is frankly appalling (apologies to the dedicated composer).
On the positive side, there is no radical departure from the book, and it kept me interested until the end, although my husband fell asleep. If you are a fan of period drama, I recommend you add it to your viewing schedule, but it is not destined to be a favorite. Read the book!