The Forsyte Saga: The Complete Series [DVD] 
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The Forsyte Saga, in telling the remarkable story of a nouveau riche English family, introduced the world to a new kind of TV. Millions of people devoted the next half year of their lives to following the frank treatment of all the sins, foibles and peccadillos of the Forsytes and their circle. The passing decades can never the erase the memory of their extraordinary evenings with the Forsytes: Kenneth More as Jo, the philosophical outsider; Eric Porter as Soames, the grasping man of property; Nyree Dawn Porter as Irene, "born to be loved and to love" and in later episodes, Susan Hampshire in an Emmy-winning performance as Fleur, Soame's 'restless' daughter. With 150 characters, 2000 separate costumes and over 100 sets, this sprawling yet intimate saga continues to move, provoke and entrance viewers today.
The Forsyte Saga is often cited as the first television miniseries; it wasn't, but there's no question that it was a singular, powerful cultural phenomenon that deservedly got under the skin of European viewers in 1967. Today the 26-episode production, based on several novels and short stories by John Galsworthy, is a more timeless enterprise than many of the protracted British TV dramas that have followed. While it would be wrong to consider The Forsyte Saga high art, it's certainly a mesmerizing and inspired mix of theater, sprawling Victorian narrative, thinking man's soap opera, and some finely tuned, 1960s black-and-white production values that (especially when shot outdoors) are strikingly handsome.
Above all, Forsyte is driven by its characters--perhaps to an extreme, though the two-generation storyline makes no apologies for creating compelling people whose capacity for short-sighted blundering, bursts of grace, and slow-brewing redemption make them recognizably human. Eric Porter towers over everything as Soames Forsyte, a humorless attorney whose guiding principles of measurable value cause great heartache but slowly evolve, leaving him a graying, good father, arts patron, and sympathetic repository of memory. From the cast of 150 or so, other standouts include Susan Hampshire as Soames's troubled daughter, Nyree Dawn Porter as the wife of two very different Forsyte men, and Kenneth More as the family's artistic black sheep. --Tom Keogh
Top Customer Reviews
Donald Wilson was denied funds to produce it for ten years. Had there been a delay of a further year the series would have been filmed in colour, as he wished, rather than black and white.
The first of the John Galsworthy novels on which the series is based contains almost no dialogue. BBC script writers supplied the dialogue that helped make the ten siblings in the eldest Forsyte generation so memorable.
Galsworthy intended the Forsytes to represent the rapaciousness, greed and snobbery of the English upper middle class. In this adaptation they are much more endearing.
Being filmed in black and white made it possible to interpolate archival film of Queen Victoria’s funeral procession and of combat scenes from WW1.
Joseph O’Conor who plays the part of Old Jolyon was two years younger than Kenneth More who plays his son.
Eric Porter and Margaret Tyzack, who play Soames Forsyte and his sister Winifred, are in each episode and are required to age almost 50 years.
Although never credited, the music that opens and closes each episode is the first movement, “Halcyon Days”, from the suite “The Three Elizabeths” written in the early 1940s by Eric Coates.
Just last year, in Oslo, I walked into a news stand and found a very cheap print of the book. I bought it...........and let it rest until this summer on my coffee table. I finally took it while on a 10 days hike in the austrian alps and couldn't let go of the book. Primarly because I realized the Forsyte, although english, were just like my family !! Very chilling, but yet, there are heaps of french Forsytes, have a read at Emile Zoal or Balzac !!
I suddenly had to have the DVD. I finally went for the 1967 one and I'll never be sorry I did.
Black and white was in hinsight, a brilliant idea. Had it been in coulour, the make up would have been terrible. Don't forget most of the actors were in the 30's and had to be aged almost 50 years. Black and white allowed that.
I was amazed by the way it was filmed. One could believe it was very static, quite the contrary. The cameras never stop moving; think there were no portable cameras or steadycam then, but only very big " on stand video cameras.
The acting is just brillant but I'm sorry to say Nyree Dawn Porter'snperformance didn't really cut the mustard as far as I am concerned, still a very beautifull dame. All the other cast members are of the kind you would rarely or never find in France and elsewhere. I always had a soft spot for Kenneth More as a kid ans Eric Porter made me feel for poor Soames. Once you start watching you'll find it very hard to stop.........and we're talking 20 hours viewing. It's a bit like deciding to stop smoking........it's always the last one !!
You want to see some great english television, then buy the DVD. .................You'll thank me for it :)))
The later, colour, versions have some merit but do not bear comparison with this for even a moment.
First class work by all concerned. Buy it at once if you do not already own it. Thought is not called for - you simply cannot go wrong.
It shows, only too obviously, the value of actors trained in rep, rather than just tv, that they are heavyweight and three dimensional, and you really do care 'what happens next'. Eric Porter especially, playing Soames with a sympathetic edge, managed to 'age' from being a youngish Soames at the beginning to the old Soames, dying in his '80's, entirely convincingly, and was in every episode. And the redoubtable Margaret Tysack, playing Winifred, still gathering awards as we speak, in the theatre, shows her wonderful diction off to a tee...
The sets, being 1960's BBC, do appear rather shaky at times, with the occasional wobbling wall, and boom mike shadows on actors faces, a product, no doubt of financial constraints of the time. Being filmed in black and white, it fits the whole Victorian atmosphere.
A big bonus of the box-set is the extras - fascinating interviews with the main actors at the time of filming the last episodes, documentarys made at the time, out-takes, and filmed vox-pops - asking the man and woman in the street whether they were a 'Soames suporter' or an 'Irene supporter' ! Having had the video set for years, I noticed that on he DVD version, episodes are edited to cut in different scenes....
However, as one of the servants to the Forsytes might have said, "Its worth every flippin' penny, Maam" !
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The box was scruffy and the disks had to be cleaned from fingermarks [together with the box], but the actual disks played well with no damage to them.Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
Very pleased with this, hours of nostalgic viewing for me. Nicely packagedPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Classic TV series that has stood the test of time. The production values might not be in the same league as todays dramas but the script the dialogue the acting couldn't be... Read morePublished 2 months ago by P. A. Wood
A true classic BBC drama from the late 60's. True to Galsworthy's book, stella cast, beautifully filmed for its time highly recommendPublished 7 months ago by Robert Atherton
Excellent - much much better than the recent revival with Damian Lewis.Published 10 months ago by Phillip