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Customer Review

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You Might Want to Look at Both Adaptations, 23 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Love In A Cold Climate [DVD] [2001] [2000] (DVD)
"Love in a Cold Climate," is a 2001 British television miniseries, the second adaptation from popular British author Nancy Mitford's comic novels, The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate. This period romantic drama/comedy was a co-production of WGBH Boston, American public television, and the BBC. It is, of course, in full color, and is considerably tighter and shorter than the earlier, 1980 television adaptation. The BBC, to a degree, did throw money at the screen, in ballroom scenes, cars, clothes, and interiors; however, some corners were cut from the first adaptation: the ballroom scenes do not show the orchestras at play; and the production does not show Lady Montdore's big costume ball, nor follow her daughter Polly to Italy. The newer adaptation reflects the shorter attention spans of current day audiences in that it consists of only two parts, rather than six. It resembles the first, however, in the presence of a great deal of talent before and behind the camera. This adaptation was first broadcast on the BBC in 2001, and in America, on Public Television's "Masterpiece Theatre" in 2002. But there's another major difference from the first adaptation: this version comes without subtitles; too bad, Acorn, as these well-bred British persons still don't speak above a whisper. In this house, we were able to follow the production in its larger lines, but missed a lot of the hopefully, presumably witty dialog from Mitford's novel.

The series, to be sure, follows the eccentric, aristocratic Radlett family from the 1920s through World War II; knowledgeable sources state that it is fact, about the author's eccentric, literary family, the Mitfords, of beauties, lightly disguised as fiction. It centers on three young related women as they search for love: wealthy young beauties Polly Montdore and Linda Radlett, and their poorer, plainer cousin Fanny, who narrates, while just trying not to behave like her mother, who has earned the nickname of The Bolter, as she flits from man to man. The entertainment boasts quite a few stars, and important supporting players.

Celia Imre (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel [DVD]) plays Sadie Radlett, matriarch of the clan, though she's still given as little to do as was Oscar-winner Judi Dench in the first version. Alan Bates, (King of Hearts ), plays Matt, Lord Alconleigh, an eccentric, kind-hearted terror, with the habit of loosing his bloodhounds to chase his daughters. Sheila Gish plays the holy terror Lady Montdore. Her daughter Polly is played by Megan Dodds, Linda, by Elizabeth Dermot Walsh; the careers of both these young actresses have rather stuttered out, leading me to believe that they too, as the actresses who played these parts in the first version, were best at playing young beauties. Rosamund Pike, who plays Fanny, has had much more of a career: as she's starred in Pride & Prejudice, Johnny English Reborn [DVD], Die Another Day , and the just-opened JACK REACHER. But, of course, she's an unusually beautiful young woman, and Fanny's supposed to be rather plain, so that leaves the production a bit unbalanced. Many more stars show up: John Wood as Lord Merlin; Anthony Andrews (Brideshead Revisited ) as Boy; Rupert Frazer as Lord Paddington, Jemima Rooper (Lost in Austen) as Jassy; John Standing as Lord Montdore; Jeremy Child as Sir Leicester Kroesig. And quite a few other familiar faces.

This production manages the unusual trick of being funny, moving, and accurate as to its time and place, attributable, I expect, to the original material, and the talent before and behind the camera. It is overwhelmingly a production of, by, and for women: the adaptation was by Deborah Moggach, who wrote the novel THESE FOOLISH THINGS, on which THE BEST EXOTIC HOTEL MARIGOLD was based, as well as TV treatments of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. The producers were exclusively female. However, Tom Hooper, who won the 2011 Best Movie Oscar for THE KING'S SPEECH, and has directed the just opening mega-musical LES MISERABLES, helmed here.

I found the production's greatest strength, and greatest difference from the adaptation, in that it showed more of the feminism implicit in the Mitford novels. For example, the very title, "Love in a Cold Climate" is uttered by Polly, who's just back from a family stint in India. She remarks that English girls in India are totally wrapped up in love, and the clothes to get them some, and that she hopes love in a cold climate will be less of an overheated obsession. Fanny tells her that English girls at home are every bit as obsessed with finding love, and the clothing to help them in their quests. Then, Fanny remarks that she and Linda are just waiting to begin their lives, which they define as finding love. And we see Linda wasting a lot of time, trying to tell her fortunes in love with decks of cards. Later, during World War II, we see Linda home alone, playing this same game, when many Englishwomen were making themselves useful during the war. Working class women went to the farms and factories. Even Linda's well-born friends are nurses, drivers, whatever jobs they could get to help the war effort. Later, both productions give Fanny's mother, the Bolter, the last word, as she remarks that aging is particularly hard for women like her - and Linda - who have invested their entire lives in love. And girls, that is certainly a feeling at the heart of feminism.

The twentieth century "Mitford sisters" -- six daughters of David Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale and Sydney Bowles -- became famous for their many love affairs and marriages, were celebrated, and at times scandalous, figures caricatured, according to The Times of London journalist Ben Macintyre, as "Diana the Fascist, Jessica the Communist, Unity the Hitler-lover; Nancy the Novelist; Deborah the Duchess and Pamela the unobtrusive poultry connoisseur". Their exploits are still entertaining at two fictional removes. Some viewers may prefer the first adaptation, some this second; you might want to look at both.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Aug 2014 04:22:29 BDT
This version is much shorter, much prettier, better acted and still retains the wit from the book. To me this walks all over the rambling soapie earlier version.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Aug 2014 04:48:52 BDT
I am happy to hear from you, and find it significant that you like this second take better tham the first. I certainly liked it at least as much.
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Location: Wilmington, NC USA

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