62 of 69 people found the following review helpful
Good, but could have been better,
By A Customer
This review is from: Middlemarch [VHS]  (VHS Tape)
'Middlemarch', by George Eliot is, in my opinion, the greatest novel ever written because of the vastness of its scope, the many nuances, the intriguing characters, but above all the fact that it is so relevant to life and that its characters are perhaps some of the most human in all of literature. There are no stereotypes; each character is a complex human being, with good qualities as well as bad.
'Middlemarch' is almost like a soap opera, as it tells the very different lives of the inhabitants of a provincial town and it ingeniously intertwines these stories. However, the story mainly centres around two characters - Dorothea Brooke and Tertius Lydgate, and how they become disillusioned through their difficult experiences.
Several other compelling characters such as Fred Vincy and Nicholas Bulstrode appear, as do many other fascinating stories, and as the novel progresses and the characters suffer disappointment, pain and disgrace, the different stories entwine and the characters lean on each other for support, leading to a powerful and moving climax. 'Middlemarch' has humour, romance, politics, tragedy and much more - it is simply a work of genius.
This adaptation of Eliot's masterpiece looked as if it would be perfect when in 1994, the BBC, renowned for its quality dramas, combined with Eliot's powerful story, the legendary sreenplay writer Andrew Davies (most famous for his adaptation of 'Pride and Prejudice') and a star studded cast. However, although it was very good, it was certainly not perfect, but I get the feeling that it could have been and that is what irritates me.
Without reading the novel, I would thinnk that this six-hour production would be rather confusing and certain events difficult to comprehend. Also, while most of the production, particularly the first half, was astonishingly accurate, one part of the story - which linked it all together and provided the final 'piece in the puzzle' - was omitted from the production. I simply do not understand why, as it would hardly have taken any time to incorporate it into the production, yet they decided against it. I also felt that some characters were slightly miscast. For example, Trevyn McDowell, who played Rosamond, did deliver a good performance, but did not fully represent Rosamond's true character. Rosamond was never hysterical during her arguments with Tertius; she always remained calm and cold, and continuously at a distance, because the two were unable to communicate with one another and just did not understand eachother. She was only hysterical when she was with Dorothea because she had repressed her emotions for so long and part of the tragedy was that she could more easily express them before a virtual stranger than she could before her own husband.
However, on the other hand, there was some magnificent acting. In particular Juliet Aubrey (Dorothea), Douglas Hodge (Tertius) and Patrick Malahide (Edward) were absolutely perfect for their parts and delivered stunning performances. I should also mention the following: Rufus Sewell, Jonathan Firth, Robert Hardy, Peter Jeffrey and Michael Hordern. They wre also excellent and perfectly cast.
This was certainly one of the BBC's greatest achievements and as a drama it is worthy of five stars, but as an adaptation of 'Middlemarch', I just feel that a little bit more effort could have made it perfect.