Top positive review
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Buy this for the Mallens & the Secret
on 29 March 2007
The Mallens (all 4 of them)
These are an excellent production. All the acting is absolutely first class. By the 3rd one The Mallen Secret you are really introduced to young Barbara who is also deaf which means that even in the 70's when this was first made (I remember it well I was a teenager at the time and it was my first introduction to Catherine Cookson visually rather than literally) there was continuous sign language throughout by not just one but a number of the actors and actresses involved. I thought then and now that that is no mean feat when you are also acting and have speaking parts as well. It also opened up the sign language barriers to people who probably have never had to deal with this before, I certainly hadn't then but I do now.
If you have never read the Mallens then watch this, be entertained and be very impressed by excellent acting by all concerned. If you HAVE read the Mallens, watch it and enjoy but think of it as a completely different story because if you are expecting the books on film you will be very disappointed. This has a totally different ending and a great deal sooner than Catherine's Mallen trilogy. In the TV adaptation young Barbara Mallen to me is portrayed as a selfish but very sad young woman who is doomed to never marry her cousin Michael Radlett. This is her cousin and her farmer lover, the man she loves and who loves her but because she is lied to the tragedy comes from the fact that when she learns the truth it is too late for both of them. It is a real Capulet and Montague ending!
Musically it is beautiful. The music is by Alexander Borodin and it is very deep and very powerful. The aerial shots of the lovely north eastern coutryside also move me deeply. I LOVE Catherine Cookson. I have read most of her books, seen a lot of the adaptations and this is one the best, together with the the 15 Streets, the Secret and the Gambling Man. Some of the adaptations I have to say ARE awful, but the Mallens and the Secret are not 2 of them. Worth buying for those alone.
Black Candle adaptation is the only weak one in this collection and it really could have been a lot better. The Black Velvet Gown is patchy although for its acting by Janet McTeer it gets 5*
You can buy this collection safe in the knowledge that its NOT money wasted, 5 of the DVD's included (4 Mallens/one Secret) make it more than worth the price. Also the Mallens are now becoming rare and therefore collectable.