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Showing 1-10 of 107 reviews(4 star). See all 860 reviews
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 April 2015
I wonder if I'm alone in remembering the 1959 "Bleak House" on the BBC. I remember enjoying it, but not much else, except that I never forgot Andrew Cruikshank as John Jarndyce (later seen in "Dr Finley's Casebook"). Now another Scottish actor, Denis Lawson, takes on Jarndyce and does so very well. I can't imagine a better Tulkinghorn than Charles Dance, and Anna Maxwell Martin is perfect as Esther. Timothy West is fine as Sir Leicester Dedlock, and Gillian Anderson was very good as Lady Dedlock. Alun Armstrong was an arresting Mr Bucket. The young Carey Mulligan was Ada, and if I was tempted to "slap her upside the head," for her devotion to the worthless Carstone, then that was a tribute to Mulligan's acting. It's just remarkable, isn't it, just how forbearing many of these people were: why couldn't Jarndyce see through the despicable Skimpole from the start? And shouldn't he have tried even harder to set Carstone and Ada straight at various points? But that's Dickens for you, too, and the seven-and-a-half hour serialization did justice to the spirit of the novel, and to the complexities of the plot.

As the action moved to a close, perhaps some of the limitations of the half-hour segments in which it was shot begin to manifest themselves. The "police procedural" aspect, as Mr Bucket gets on the case, changes the rhythm to something choppier, and one feels the some scenes of potential emotional power were short-changed in the effort to keep the plot moving and suspense tight. Really, the last tear-jerking scene that is given its full weight is the death of Jo, the crossing sweeper boy. Carstone's death, in the final episode, is much less moving -- but then, I for one was almost glad to be rid of Carstone, so others' views might differ. But the settling of Esther's love for Woodcourt, along with the trip to Yorkshire to seal the deal, is a bit hurried too, I felt. And the widowed and pregnant Ada seemed very upbeat about the whole thing -- but then, maybe we're meant to see her as a kind of airhead. Be all that as it may, this is, on the whole, a very satisfying adaptation.

NOTE: I think Dickens would have loved this, and perhaps earlier adaptations as well. He was always ready to adapt scenes from his novels for dramatic recitation, and he made tours in which he starred as a dramatic reciter of his own work. These tours made him a lot of money, but they also probably contributed to his early death, from exhaustion and overwork. Had the technology been around in Dickens's time to produce serializations like this one, he would have been in on it, and insisting on getting his cut -- and why not?!
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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 19 December 2015
This is of course one of Dickens's most famous and esteemed books, a huge novel with a galaxy of fascinating characters. For me, this is not quite up there with my personal favourites, Great Expectations, David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickleby and Pickwick Papers, but is still a very good novel. The basic narrative is quite simple, drawn out across 67 chapters, but it is that galaxy of characters that really make this one. In some Dickens novels (Our Mutual Friend, Little Dorrit), I have found significant numbers of characters rather dull and the chapters in which they featured very skimable, but there were almost none such here. Some of the most memorable/interesting were the tragic Lady Dedlock; the vagabond trooper George; Mrs Jellyby, who is dedicated to public causes but abandons her husband and children; the Bagnets, where the wife articulates all her husband's opinions for him at his request; Boythorn, the Dedlocks' neighbour in dispute with them over a right of way; Miss Flite, the poor little lady whose mind has become unhinged by the interminable legal case Jarndyce and Jarndyce, which also breaks the health of Richard Carstone. No one describes grinding poverty and degradation like Dickens and his descriptions of the unfortunate Jo, the crossing sweeper and Jenny, grieving over her dead baby and brutalised by her husband, are also striking and tragic. The novel is almost a microcosm of early 19th century society, both the lows and highs.
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on 8 July 2012
It's an enormous challenge, recording the complete Bleak House. The two, quite different, narrative voices introduce us to a huge variety of characters, male and female, and many of them appear in both narratives. The readers, therefore, have to complement each other and also ensure there is continuity in the presentations. Teresa Gallagher, as the unctuous Esther, is quite outstanding. Whether it is a man or woman speaking through Esther's consciousness, she brings them alive so completely that you quite forget this is an actor with many voices: she becomes, momentarily, the tedious Skimpole or the vulnerable Guppy. Her men sound like men, her women, of all classes, definitely female. She delivers an imperious and passionate Lady Deadlock, managing to render the grotesque and incomprehensible moral sentiments which entrap her almost intelligible. Sean Barret has wonderful gravitas as the omniscient narrator in the present tense. His characterisations of the male actors in the drama are exemplary: the grotesque, Punch and Judy Smallweeds are particularly memorable. Unfortunately, his women characters, especially the central character, Lady Deadlock, sound like female impersonators: it is impossible to see them except as actors in drag. You can't forget that they are parts struggling to be played.

That said, this is a wonderful set and if you watch the site carefully over a week or so, you may snap it up, as I did, for about £25. Bargain of the century!
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on 1 June 2015
This was a very nicely made adaptation od the novel and with only a few exceptions does have most of the characters of the novel saying and doing what Dickens wrote. However, the casting of Esther was totally wrong and does detract from the suspension of disbelief. The point may be superficial, but the actress playing the part looks implausible as Gillian Anderson's daughter or that of Captain Hawdon. The simple truth is that children do take after their parents physically, more often than not. You can usually see mum and dad in the faces of their offspring. We're talking bone structure here for which GA is renowned and which, throughout this production, the camera lingers on extensively. This girl could not be her daughter, yet the physical similarity is hinted at by more than one character long before the relationship is exposed. I'm not saying she had to be a dead ringer, but well...
Secondly, the modern scene shift device that is employed with the camera sound effect is quite noticeably out of place and was a bad decision.
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on 9 January 2008
This is a production of immense detail and values; there is a great cast with even, in some cases, astonishing physical resemblances between the actors and their illustrations from the book. As with any TV adaptation compromises have to be made: I can forgive the brief episodes and the fact that the plot, which carefully unravels in the book, is spelt out with little subtlety in the very first episode. I can even forgive the liberties taken with some of the characterization: in the book Esther is no fool, but her manner and expressions are very much of that time, with much talking of kissing and her ' love ' for other female characters - in the wrong hands (you know who you are, Channel 4)this could be a very different adaptation indeed. So instead Esther becomes a very modern women with bang up to date sensibilities. NO, what got me was that the producers did not trust the viewer not to get bored unless there were flash camera angles, fast cut aways with portentous music as we cut to a scene of ...erh... people walking back from church. Sometimes it works. Often not. Every scene is introduced by wooshes and bleeps which will sound oddly familiar if you watch '24'. ("My name is Esther Bauer, special friend to Miss Ada Clare. Let me tell you about the 11th worst day of my life..Boom boom.. Boom Boom.. Bleeeep"). Others will enjoy this, hence the slightly reluctant 4 stars. I did not finish disc 3.
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on 15 November 2014
The first time I looked at it I found it unreadable, as Dickens droned on and on about The Court of Chancery, complaining about how it was then, which is not particularly relevant now. However, according to Colin Dexter this is the greatest novel ever written, so I though I must be missing something. I watched the BBC dramatisation of it which was superb, so realised that I must definitely have missed something. On a second look I have really got into it, and find all the complex pantomime characters, and the intriguing plot, all quite enchanting. There are still the occasional passages, and sentences in it, which I find unreadable, but I just skip over those without detriment to the story.
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on 7 December 2013
It took me six weeks to read this book for a university course I was doing. Dickens is fantastic at describing old London, you can imagine the sights and smells as the descriptions are so vivid. The only criticism I have is he is very long-winded and what he could say in about 4 pages takes about 40 but then he did write these novels as instalments for a magazine and you were paid on the amount you wrote and of course everything had to end on cliffhangers. In itself it is a superb story with a murder mystery but you really need to take your time over it and much of the book I had to go over to make sure I had the sequence of events correctly.
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on 4 March 2016
Some of his writing is almost unbearably verbose. However, if you can get through that, this book is one that is likely to live with you forever. Wonderful! I started reading it, having not read anything from the 19th Century for about forty years, after seeing several episodes of 'Dickensian' on BBC TV. The depiction of the drama of the Barbary sisters was so enthralling that I wanted to find out which novel they were from and what happened to them later in their story. Now I know!
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on 10 February 2018
I am not really a Dicken's fan. I find his satire verging on the snobbish and his pessimism more depressing than philosophical.
Having said that I am a great admirer of his peerless topological description and evocation of atmosphere,
things that I try to imitate in my own poor way.

It was for those reasons I bought this copy.
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on 17 March 2017
Many years ago, in my teenage years I read Charles Dickens books. but not this one. A friend said this was one of his best so now I have it waiting to be read..I do not remember that they were so big all those years ago but his books were always well written and enjoyable and no doubt this will be too. With thanks....
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