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4.2 out of 5 stars82
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 3 June 2006
This excellent 6 part miniseries of WM Thackeray's masterpiece really delivers. Natasha Little has the right mixture of beauty and guile to convince as Becky Sharp. Nothing is overplayed in her superb central performance. The rest of the roles are perfectly cast too. Any fan of the book will not be disappointed.

The miniseries is stylishly filmed. Parade-like music captures the mood of the piece wonderfully. Noone quite does period drama like the BBC!
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on 19 August 2007
I can quite understand why some people don't warm to this adaptation of the book - it's very bold and 'in your face'. That, however, is very much in keeping with the style of the novel. I feel sure that Thackeray would have been delighted with the way his characters have been brought to life! In both the novel and this TV series, they are not so much characters as caricatures - they are designed to be 'over the top' and unrealistic. That is how Thackeray gets across his message - the greed, artificiality and hypocrisy of polite society in the 19th century.

This TV adaptation does indeed have a 'cop out' ending but Thackeray's own treatment of this area was not consistent - he shies away from actually confirming Becky as being guilty of this final crime as though that was a bit too much even for him! I don't think this detracts from the quality of the adaptation at all.

This is a richly filmed, brilliantly acted and hysterically funny series that I think is a 'must see'.
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VINE VOICEon 4 July 2005
The long overdue release of the Marc Munden's quirky production of Thackeray's Vanity Fair is something to celebrate. After the unsatisfying big screen adaptation by Mira Nair in 2004, this version with its jarringly beautiful score and precise characterisations from Natasha Little, Frances Grey, David Bradley and Miriam Margolyes, to name but a few, is a welcome antidote to the brighter and more firmly mainstream BBC adaptations of other 19th century novels such as Wives and Daughters and Middlemarch. Munden takes Andrew Davies' script and confidently stamps it with his own vision, which is by turns viciously bitter or brightly comic yet marvellously consistent with the novel. The ending is disappointing, as with so many of Davies' adaptations, he just seems to run out of steam by the end. Nonetheless, this underrated series is one of the best of the BBC's literary adaptations.
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Anyone loving the book and wanting a faithful depiction of its events and characters is well advised to stick to this version rather than the more superficial and trivialised version with a (heavily pregnant) Reese Witherspoon.
Natasha Little is Becky Sharp personified, a beautiful but penniless social climber; and who better suited to be the faithful, plodding Dobbin than adorable Philip Glenister.
Becky Sharp is a complex, never entirely likeable character, always in control, always manipulative, as she schemes her way through life in the setting of England in the throes of the Napoleonic Wars; but Natasha Little and the rest of the cast do splendid justice to this timeless classic of love, friendship - and betrayal.
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on 7 September 2005
Vanity Fair is an excellent BBC adapation, worthy of note. Perhaps even comparable to Pride and Prejudice. The screenplay is quite different, which lends itself more to W.M. Thackery's slighty less glowing vision (than Austen's) of English society. It seems quite surprising that it has not met more popular demand. The acting is quite superb and will keep you riveted to your seat (probably for the full 321 mins!). If the new adaptation with Witherspoon et al is a Morris Minor, then this is a Bentley.
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Magnifique adaptation en mini-série de l'aeuvre la plus connue de W.Thackeray. Ce livre-fleuve est parfaitement adapté, l'interprétation est magnifique particulièrement Natacha Little.
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on 6 June 2006
Great casting/acting/costume/background, in fact great everything! Stuck close to original book. My only criticism is that awful music & no DVD extras e.g. interview/making of, etc.
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on 20 September 2005
If you like your drama sharp and funny, then "Vanity Fair" is for you. Thackeray is merciless in his portrayal of English society, although this adaption is much kinder to the character of Becky Sharpe, seeing her as a modern woman who is just trying to survive, rather than a heartless social climber.
Basically, the story is all about two women: Becky and Amelia. Becky grew up too soon, and is a woman at 15, whereas Amelia is still a child; Becky is a cynic and worldly-wise, Amelia is trusting and loves everyone. Becky is poor, with nothing but her looks and her wits; Amelia is rich, and is engaged to a childhood friend. From then on, all is turned upside down in the turmoil of early 19th century England, as the Napoleonic Wars intervene in the girls' lives, with Becky desperately trying to improve her lot while Amelia floats along. Fortunes are won and lost, hearts are broken, reputations are made and ruined. It is the faithful men who come off best: Becky's Rawdon, a rake turned into a loyal husband, and William Dobbin, who loves Amelia from afar while she is engaged to his dashing friend George.
The ending of the adaptation is much more sanitised than the book, where Becky is implicated in the murder of Amelia's elder brother, ambiguous to the end. There is also the small but important matter that Becky is turned into a scheming brunette and Amelia into a sweet blonde, when in the book, it is the other way around! Becky is blonde with green eyes, while Amelia has chestnut hair with great blue eyes. Colouring is not something many people look at when casting, but given Natasha Little is blonde anyway, I don't see why they changed it; it smacks of modern stereotyping. Otherwise, this is an adaptation rather different from the usual Dickens & Austen fare, and highly recommended.
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on 11 July 2006
My wife and I had a great time seeing this. The godfather of adaptations, Andrew Davies, as usual constructs an effective and egaging series out of a classic novel (which i haven't read). The plot twists and turns, the pace and humour is kept up and the characters all have something distinctly human about them. I found the acting superb and believable, so all is good. What makes this a top series, however, is the dynamic filming, direction, costumes, production design and music. Some might find it over the top, i found that the style - which sometimes borders on the surreal - completely catches the bizar nature of the social game everbody is playing. First class - go enjoy.
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on 18 March 2012
Natascha Little is fantastic as Becky, really shining through in the part. I've watched this and the Reese Witherspoon version back to back and RW is simply not good enough to convey the complexity of the character. The rest of the cast is good, except Amelie, who's far too wet (Romola Garai is much better in the film).
The jazz/oompah band score is like marmite, you'll either love it or hate it. I loved it, it's so out of character for the period but matches the original's ironic narration perfectly...and it's the narrator who has the best lines in the book.
The only cavil is that the last episode is rushed and loses much of the flair of the previous ones. The ending of the RW film is much better, the BBC series ends on a question, and they clearly didn't get good enough weather for the German scenes and couldn't afford to wait.
That said, between the two DVDs this is the clear winner.
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