A Dance To The Music Of Time [DVD] 
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James Purefoy stars, along with several British household names, in this television adaptation of Anthony Powell's 12 novels. The story revolves around friendship, murder, adultery, ambition and failure and is set against a backdrop of social, political and artistic life during the pivotal years of 20th Century England.
From the Back Cover
A Dance to the Music of Time, Anthony Powells epic literary masterpiece, is brought to the screen for the first time in this sumptuous adaptation. A glittering cast of over one hundred characters including Sir John Gieldgud, Miranda Richardson, Alan Bennett, Edward Fox and Zoe Wannamaker present a wonderfully comic and erotic vision of 20th century England.
Friendship, murder, adultery, ambition and failure are set against a backdrop of social, political and artistic life during the pivotal years of this century. The dance creates a panoramic view of human experience which moves from the decadence of the early Twenties to the sobering Thirties, from the devastation of the Second World War to the world created in its aftermath. Centre stage is Kenneth Widmerpool. Once the butt of schoolboy jokes, his rise to power through business, the military and politics confounds his contemporaries. The comings and goings of Widmerpool and his circle, falling in and out of each others lives, is charted by the omnipresent Nicholas Jenkins, who guides us through the web of interwoven relationships. This video set, containing all four parts of the Channel Four Television series, sees the cream of British talent bring one of the most significant works of twentieth century English fiction to life.
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Top Customer Reviews
There's lots in the books that couldn't possibly find their way onto the TV, but it was splendid to see so much of it brought to life. I found it a very enjoyable 6 or 7 hours viewing. Highly recommended for any Powell aficionado, or anyone looking for something a bit out of the way.
"A Dance to the Music of Time" is widely regarded as a well-crafted sequence of 12 novels. On this video there is Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter: the journey of colleagues, friends and acquaintances through the rapidly changing 20th Century. This is no quaint, shallow portrayal of 'four friends have mixed lives and then get back together and reminisce' or any such formulaic narrative.
Like Poussin's painting, the story follows figures which entwine, cut loose, and meet again. The characters are all very well-drawn and excellently portrayed in this wonderful Channel 4 production. Mostly, the same actors play their characters from the beginning of the 20th Century to 1960s. However, a couple do not, and although this may seem strange at first, the characterisation shines through. Simon Russell Beale plays the incomparable Widmerpool throughout the production: he is utterly amazing.
In short, this video shows a highly enjoyable, amusing, wry and touching story whether or not you have read (some or all of) the novels. Powell's prose can be delicious and detailed and very little of that quality is lost in the lavish, but not too polished, production. A great cast (including James Purefoy, Jonathan Cake, Paul Rhys, James Fox and Zoe Wanamaker) [apologies for any spelling mistakes] involved with a largely engaging story. Powell's grasp of the 1950s/60s might be less than usual, but nevertheless one cannot help but be drawn into the entire story.
If you've read the novels - you won't be disappointed!
If you know and love the novel sequence there are times at which you feel the film makers have taken some liberties, sliding over too quickly, or even omitting favourite passages, but this is a necessity to keep the running time to an acceptable 415 minutes.
Apart from Beale's magnificent portrayal of Kenneth Widmerpool, enjoy Edward Fox's wonderfully seedy portrayal of Uncle Giles, and Alan Bennett's Sillery. I'm afraid I've forgotten the name of the actor who plays the tragic Charles Stringham, but he nails the character to a perfection.
To my mind, it is largely because we have very few actor switches in FilmsTwo and Three that those two are the most excellent of an altogetheroutstanding series.
But there is one character who is played by the same actor throughout --all the way from film one to film four -- and that is the magnificentSimon Russell-Beale. He should have been showered with BAFTAs for hisacting here. Widmerpool is such an awful character, yet many of us haveknow similar people in our lives. He really deserves the utterly selfishPamela, played by the scene-stealing Miranda Richardson, who marries himdespite everything.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
How do you cram 12 novels into 4 DVDs. Not sure. This was a very good effort, with superb period cambra work, but the story jumps about so much I started to lose the story line... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Mark Le Sueur
I saw this on the telly years ago and enjoyed it just as much the second time aroundPublished 7 months ago by joyce payne
My favourite book. The one I'd take to a desert island. Widerpool is one of literature's greatest creeps. Read morePublished 8 months ago by lullaboo