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Customer Review

151 of 155 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars couldn't be better - absolutely wonderful, 9 Jan 2007
This review is from: Bleak House - BBC (3 Disc Special Edition) [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
The BBC decided to screen this adaptation initially in 30-minute episodes, two a week, like a soap. Unexpectedly this worked quite well, but more because of the excellence of the production than because of their quirky manner of showing it. Seen on DVD, when you can watch as much as you wish, it is even more powerful. The cast is astonishingly good - many famous names (Warren Clarke, Pauline Collins, Phil Davis, Matthew Kelly, Alistair McGowan, Anne Reid, Ian Richardson, Liza Tarbuck, Johnny Vegas, Timothy West) taking roles which they inhabit as if they were made for them. But the central roles, of the unfortunate litigants in the case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, the corrupt lawyer Tulkinghorn (Charles Dance, menacingly lizardy), kindly John Jarndyce (Denis Lawson) and above all Gillian Anderson as the chilly and tragic Lady Dedlock and the heroine, Anna Maxwell Martin as Esther Summerson (described in Dickens' character list in the novel as 'a prudent and wise woman and a self-denying friend') are even better. The sets are totally convincing, Dickens's huge compass of characters and events is covered entirely satisfactorily, the complicted plot emerges clearly and there are moments of great pathos and genuine dignity. But above all is is absolutely riveting (and perhaps that is why the BBC's cliff-hanging original approach was not so daft after all). Anyway, I cannot recommend this too highly. It is really wonderful.

P.S. (25th. December 2009) I see Carey Mulligan, who played one of the wards of court in this production, has been nominated for a Golden Globe for her work in the recent film 'An Education' - in which she is indeed excellent.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Jul 2008 06:37:20 BDT
CelticStar says:
I don't think that this review should have given away an important part of the plot. This could spoil the viewing of people who haven't read the book or seen this adaptation yet.

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Oct 2008 11:22:42 BDT
Thanks - I think you are right, and I have amended the review accordingly.

Posted on 16 Mar 2009 21:22:31 GMT
Mike L says:
Thank you for your evocative and well-written review.

Many of Dickens's novels were first published in serialised forms in newspapers. I don't know whether this is true of 'Bleak House', but it influences the development of his plots - a cliffhanger was needed every week - and it is this which lends weight to the BBC's decision to construct the plot in half hour episodes

With Best Wishes

In reply to an earlier post on 16 Mar 2009 23:48:17 GMT
Some of the novels appeared in magazine form, little green self-contained magazines. This is true of 'Bleak House', and you make a very fair point. In the States, people queued on pierheads waiting for the ship to come with the latest instalment of a Dickens' novel, such was their popularity.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Dec 2009 01:26:54 GMT
phantomfan says:
We do much the same thing today waiting for our favorite British TV shows to be released on Region 1. :) Great review, I agree - Bleak House is breathtaking. (an American BBC fan)

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Dec 2009 18:36:37 GMT
Thanks for your comments - there's a pretty good BBC 'Dombey and Son' on its way, and you might well like that too!

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Sep 2011 12:34:19 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 4 May 2012 07:24:27 BDT]

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Sep 2011 07:49:06 BDT
I'm sorry you didn't like it. If your question is a genuine question, I'm afraid I can't help you - I was quite properly wrapped over the knuckles for putting a bit of a spoiler in the first version of my review (see first comment)!
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Location: Fife, Scotland

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