Top critical review
Let Cynthia be the heroine
on 18 April 2016
This isn’t a perfect adaptation, and I think that Davies is sometimes praised because he has often stuck closely to a well loved book. Yet when he deviates in the last part, he goes astray and weakens the end of the story, which I think is actually complete in the book. I like leaving Mrs Gibson with the last words. I feel that all we need to know is implied and that the Hamley and Gibson households are in as good a place as we’ve seen them.
This for me is the story of Molly and Cynthia more than it is the love story of Molly and Roger. The book’s romance is a pretty tepid one and it ends without Molly realising that her feelings for Roger are more than fraternal. And as for the TV version - a story which ends with a proposal whilst standing 6 feet apart is not an attractive one. Andrew Davies misses out Cynthia’s restoration and the touching parting between the sisters, and one of our key characters is kind of brushed away.
She says in the book that she might just be a heroine yet, but she’s not allowed to be.
Roger’s intentions on his return from Africa and manner of finding out that Cynthia is engaged - again - are more dramatic in the book.
I often wonder why such tales have so much modern following. They are full of thankfully long passed foibles about decorum and social strata.
Yes there is much well drawn diachronic humanity here, some strikingly modern dialogue, often rightly tidied in places (but then nuance and dynamic is often lost). But it’s ultimately a bit goodie, and not dynamic enough, and I’m never sure if we’re meant to agree with Mr Gibson who is often thoughtless, harsh and not the fount of knowledge that his over protected daughter assumes.
4x c75 mins episodes on 2 discs
30 mins of music (no pictures)
Featurette on making of
general featurette on Mrs Gaskell