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Love In A Cold Climate [DVD]  
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Based on Love in a Cold Climate and The Pursuit of Love, two classic novels by aristocratic writer Nancy Mitford, this is a sumptuous and darkly comic costume drama about three upper-class young women and their quest for romance just before World War II. Celia Imrie, Alan Bates, Sheila Gish, Anthony Andrews and Frances Barber hurrah, hunt and bitch behind the pot plants, but this is more than tweeds, cocktails and country houses. It's also a sharp and witty look at the dying days of a particular breed of landed gentry. Based partly on Mitford's own life, it captures the highs and lows of the aristocratic smart set before World War II snuffed out their world forever.
Directed by the Oscar winner for the King’s Speech - Tom Hooper.
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It covers a lot of material in its two and a half hours of viewing. The acting is excellent with utterly believable characterisation. I didn't want it to end. !
The story is of three friends - three girls - in 1930s England before the second world war. It is a tale of how they came out (in to Society, as it was then), married and settled down. Yet it is so much more. It portrays the eccentricities of the British upper classes, with their whims and `individual' moral standards. After all, the author, Nancy Mitford, was in a good place to see all this first hand with one sister, Deborah, marrying the Duke of Devonshire and another marrying Oswald Mosley. So there are doves that are "dyed pink and dried in the airing cupboard" and a baby that "looks like a howling orange in a black wig - really, it is kinder not to look!" The wit is razor sharp, cutting deepest at the those who deserve it most, such as the indomitable Lady Montdor.
Overall, if you enjoy people watching, you'll love this DVD.
*** Director: Tom Hooper
*** Producer: Kate Harwood
*** Musical score composed by Rob Lane
*** Screenplay written by Deborah Moggach
*** Based on two books by Nancy Mitford
*** Run time: 2 x 75 minutes = 150 minutes
The cast includes the following:
** Rosamund Pike as Fanny (who is also the narrator)
** Elisabeth Dermoth Walsh as Linda
** Megan Dodds as Polly
** Alan Bates as Uncle Matthew Radlett
** Celia Imrie as Aunt Sadie
** Jemina Rooper as Jassy
** Anthony Andrews as “Boy” Dougdale
** John Light as Christian Talbot – a communist
** Samuel Labarthe as Fabrice de Sauveterre – a French duke
** Tom Ward as Alfred
Nancy Mitford (1904-1973) was a British author, who grew up in an aristocratic family. Her book “The Pursuit of Love” was first published in 1945. Her book “Love in a Cold Climate” was first published in 1949. The mini-series is based on these books, which are heavily auto-biographical.
I do not wish to spoil the viewing for anyone. Therefore I am not going to reveal too much about what happens in this drama. I will merely offer a general outline, so you understand the structure of the drama.
The three main characters Fanny, Linda, and Polly were born around 1910. In 1920, they were about 10 years old. In this drama we follow their lives for two decades, from 1920 to 1940.
The three characters are childhood friends, who grew up in aristocratic families. Polly is in India with her family for ca. ten years, from 1920 to 1930. This means that Fanny and Linda are closer to each other. When Linda returns to England around 1930, the three friends meet again, but Polly is somewhat distant from the other two.
Fanny is also used as a narrator, who fills in the gap when we jump from one scene to the next. But the narrator does say much. Sometimes her introduction to a new scene is very brief.
As the three characters grow up, they have mostly two things on their mind: fashion and men. In this drama we see what happens, when a man pursues one of them or when one of them pursues a man. We also see how the surrounding family members respond to the situation.
As stated above, the story is set during the years between World War One and World War Two, but in the beginning of the drama it is not quite clear where we are in time. However, when the Spanish Civil War is mentioned, we know we are in 1936. And when the war breaks out in Europe, we know we are in 1939. When we get to 1940, the drama comes to an end.
Since there are three primary characters, and since each of them is surrounded by several secondary characters – family as well as friends – the large gallery of characters may seem a bit confusing at first. It takes a while to find out who is who and how they are related to each other. Once you know who is who, things begin to fall into place.
Having presented the general outline of the drama, I am not going to offer any further details. If you want to know what happens to Fanny, Linda, and Polly as well as the people around them, you will have to watch the drama (or read the books) all the way to the end.
The mini-series from 2001 is not the first television adaption of Nancy Mitford’s books. It is the second. The first television adaption of the books is a mini-series in eight parts that was shown on British television (Thames Television) in 1980.
Obviously, the first version from 1980 has more time to develop the numerous characters of the drama, since it runs for ca. 400 minutes, while the second version from 2001 runs for only 150 minutes.
What do reviewers say about the second version from 2001? On IMDb it has a rating of 72 per cent, which corresponds to 3.6 stars on Amazon. Here on Amazon UK there are 41 reviews of this product. The average rating is 4.3 stars.
If you ask me, both these average ratings are too high. Why? Because the story always seems to be in a hurry. Too many scenes are too short. We jump from one situation to the next. There is not enough time to develop the characters.
There are many characters and many situations in Nancy Mitford’s books. Apparently, Deborah Moggach wanted to include as many as possible in her screenplay, and the only way to do this was to shorten each scene. The result is not quite good.
I want to like this historical drama. I want to give it a good rating, but I have to remove two stars because of this flaw. Therefore I think it deserves a rating of three stars.
PS. In 1932, Nancy Mitford’s younger sister Diana (1910-2003) caused a social scandal when she left her husband and began an affair with Sir Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, even though he was still married. In 1933 Mosley’s wife died, and three years later, Oswald and Diana were married. The marriage took place in Germany. In the living room of Joseph Goebbels' house. Adolf Hitler was one of the witnesses present. Nancy did not like Oswald Mosley and did not agree with his political beliefs. For more information about Nancy and her family, see Take Six Girls: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters by Laura Thompson (2015, 2016).
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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