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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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This is a superb adaptation of George Elliot's novel of the same name. Set in nineteenth century England in the rural town of Middlemarch, it follows the lives of several of its inhabitants, as the threads of their lives intertwine with those of others. Filled with memorable characters with whom the viewer becomes engrossed over the six hours that the series runs, it is a well acted, beautifully filmed period piece.
When an idealistic, ambitious, handsome gentleman, Dr. Tertius Lydgate (Douglas Hodge), moves to MIddlemarch with the expectation of running a charity hospital that will allow him the opportunity for medical research, he is teeming with anticipation at his prospects in this provincial backwater. He is quickly thrust into a situation not of his own making, however, as the town seems to be a family divided over who is to be chaplain of the hospital. Aligning himself with his benefactor, Mr. Bulstrode (Peter Jeffrey), the town's unpopular banker, he sets the path upon which he must travel. Moreover, when he freely states his opinions without regard for the existing medical establishment, he makes enemies without even realizing it, so pure of heart is he. Upon meeting the lusciously lovely and thoroughly spoiled social climber, Rosalind Vincy (Trevyn McDowell), daughter of the town's upstart mayor, he is lost to her charms and loses sight of the prize. He sets upon yet another path that will bring him ignominy.
The lovely and intelligent Dorothea Brooke (Juliet Aubrey) is a scion of one of the wealthy first families of Middlemarch. She, too, is idealistic and wants to leave her mark on the world. Her head filled with socialist ideas, she, being pure of heart, longs to set right wrongs perpetrated upon the poor by the wealthy landowners, a class of which she is a member. Moreover, having been denied the education available to men, she deeply admires learning in others. Unfortunately, she is taken in by the scholarly pretensions of a wealthy, middle aged cleric, the Rev. Casaubon (Patrick Malahide), and chooses to marry him over her other suitor. Thinking that she can assist her husband with his scholarly work, she discovers too late that he may have other ideas on this matter. When she meets his cousin, the romantically handsome Will Ladislaw (Ruffin Sewell), this sets into motion a future event that is to have a lasting impact on Dorothea.
One would think that Dorothea and Tertius would be a perfect love match. Alas, that is not to be, as the heart of each is captured by another. Scandals, romance, intrigues, politcs, and the wind of social change permeate this epic period piece. With numerous memorable characters and subplots that move the story along, the viewer remains enthralled, as the entire six hours melt away. With beautiful, lush cinematography, wonderful costumes, and ensemble ecting that makes this epic period piece flow, this video is a welcome addition to one's collection. Bravo!
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Lovers of this excellent BBC production should note the following with regard to the 'Spanish' BLU RAY (the only Region which appears to have "Middlemarch" on BLU RAY as of 2014). I just got my copy and the picture is dire - massive amounts of shimmer and grain - it doesn't even come up a DVD standard (which I had and that was only passable too). There's flicks, wobbles and specks of dirt on the print (it's barely video standard). Worse - it seems to be defaulted to 4/3 which is TV Aspect so it looks like one of those old movies centered in your screen (and it appears you can't adjust it).

The writing on the back (Barcode 8436022310278 to get the right issue) is in Spanish and subtitles are Castillan Spanish. It's REGION 2 so it plays on our players without playback issues - but what's the point when it looks like this and isn't cheap either.

I can't stress enough how bad the picture is - really awful. Until such time as someone at the BBC in the UK cleans up the print and puts it out at a reasonable cost - I'd say this is one BLU RAY to avoid....
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on 4 April 2001
An astonishingly accurate and comprehensive adaptation of George Eliot's great work. The near flawless peformances explore the range and subtleties of each character as fully as the medium could allow. Andrew Davies' superb screenplay somehow manages to weave almost every thread of Eliot's beautifully-constructed plot into six hours of engrossing television. The locations, sets and costumes are perfect. My only minor criticism is that the incidental music occasionally seems cliched and intrusive, especially when it is meant to reflect tension or joy. But this is perhaps more a comment on the strength of the performances than anything else.
One to keep beside I Claudius, Brideshead Revisited and the Singing Detective.
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on 12 December 2001
An excellent daramisation of George Elliot's 1000 page novel, well up to the BBC's usual high standards of production. But, be warned! The DVD version suffers from terrible drop-out, (random white dots on the screen). If you expect to get the usual DVD reproduction quality, you will be disappointed.
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on 24 January 2004
'Middlemarch', by George Eliot is, in my opinion, the greatest novel ever written because of the vastness of its scope, the many nuances, the intriguing characters, but above all the fact that it is so relevant to life and that its characters are perhaps some of the most human in all of literature. There are no stereotypes; each character is a complex human being, with good qualities as well as bad.
'Middlemarch' is almost like a soap opera, as it tells the very different lives of the inhabitants of a provincial town and it ingeniously intertwines these stories. However, the story mainly centres around two characters - Dorothea Brooke and Tertius Lydgate, and how they become disillusioned through their difficult experiences.
Several other compelling characters such as Fred Vincy and Nicholas Bulstrode appear, as do many other fascinating stories, and as the novel progresses and the characters suffer disappointment, pain and disgrace, the different stories entwine and the characters lean on each other for support, leading to a powerful and moving climax. 'Middlemarch' has humour, romance, politics, tragedy and much more - it is simply a work of genius.
This adaptation of Eliot's masterpiece looked as if it would be perfect when in 1994, the BBC, renowned for its quality dramas, combined with Eliot's powerful story, the legendary sreenplay writer Andrew Davies (most famous for his adaptation of 'Pride and Prejudice') and a star studded cast. However, although it was very good, it was certainly not perfect, but I get the feeling that it could have been and that is what irritates me.
Without reading the novel, I would thinnk that this six-hour production would be rather confusing and certain events difficult to comprehend. Also, while most of the production, particularly the first half, was astonishingly accurate, one part of the story - which linked it all together and provided the final 'piece in the puzzle' - was omitted from the production. I simply do not understand why, as it would hardly have taken any time to incorporate it into the production, yet they decided against it. I also felt that some characters were slightly miscast. For example, Trevyn McDowell, who played Rosamond, did deliver a good performance, but did not fully represent Rosamond's true character. Rosamond was never hysterical during her arguments with Tertius; she always remained calm and cold, and continuously at a distance, because the two were unable to communicate with one another and just did not understand eachother. She was only hysterical when she was with Dorothea because she had repressed her emotions for so long and part of the tragedy was that she could more easily express them before a virtual stranger than she could before her own husband.
However, on the other hand, there was some magnificent acting. In particular Juliet Aubrey (Dorothea), Douglas Hodge (Tertius) and Patrick Malahide (Edward) were absolutely perfect for their parts and delivered stunning performances. I should also mention the following: Rufus Sewell, Jonathan Firth, Robert Hardy, Peter Jeffrey and Michael Hordern. They wre also excellent and perfectly cast.
This was certainly one of the BBC's greatest achievements and as a drama it is worthy of five stars, but as an adaptation of 'Middlemarch', I just feel that a little bit more effort could have made it perfect.
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on 10 May 2004
I may be in the minority but Middlemarch was easily my favourite book that I studied at school - most of my friends didn't even finish it!
I finally got around to buying the dvd as I was slightly worried that it would ruin my memories of the excellent book and it's characters.
However, I wasn't even slightly disappointed with this BBC production. It would have been impossible for the series to capture completely the magic of the novel as the fantastic writing of George Elliot could never be copied in full on screen. However, I think this series was as good as it could possibly have been. I was really happy with all of the cast and their superb performances and Rufus Sewell was just dreamy as Will Ladislaw!
Well done to the BBC for a fantastic production. I will be watching it again very soon.
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on 24 April 2012
This is a re-packaged version of the BBC's 1994 television adaptation, screenplay by Andrew Davies, of George Eliot's masterly novel set in the fictitious town of Middlemarch, Loamshire, during the early part of the 19th century. It has all the hallmarks of that golden period when the BBC did the great literary classics proud, with high production values, fine ensemble acting and a readiness to let a sweeping narrative take its proper course. The novel is very much concerned with sometimes complex personal relationships set against a background of social and political change. Of these, the key one turns out to be that between the ambitious and progressive but financially inept Dr Tertius Lydgate, married to a beautiful but shallow and spoilt wife, and Dorothea Brooke, a young woman of grace, nobility and intelligence, initially married to an older man of little human warmth. Douglas Hodge and Juliet Aubrey are outstanding as Lydgate and Dorothea and there is valuable support from a large cast which includes Robert Hardy, Michael Hordern and Patrick Malahide. The 2-disc set includes 'The Making of Middlemarch', more interesting than usual with such material, and an additional 30 minutes of the original music score by Stanley Myers (who sadly died during the production period) and Christopher Gunning. The drama is shown in its original episode format.
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on 29 April 2012
The only reason I can see why the sumtuous settings and costumes of this excellent adaptation did not take us by storm like Pride and Prejudice is because it has no simple love story. The lovers here make mistakes. They love too well or not wisely and they marry or not for more complex reasons and other pressures than their own the rest of us, like in the real world. We all yearn for a sure love that can sweep away all social and personal obstacles and make us happy.

This is not a fairy tale but it does hold a mirror up to nature. We have all met the characters here, the prigs, the users, the iron will that often goes with ignorance, the idealists that seem to get no good from their selflessness. Even in our post religion world it goes hard to see virtue go unrewarded and cruelty unpunished.

Put these characters next to simpering Elizabeth and her screeching mother and swaggering (though delicious) Darcy, and you will see them for the shallow stereotypes they are.

Watch this when you are feeling strong and confident, not just looking to be amused, and it will reward you with something more interesting to say than ooh did you see the wet shirt, and will add to your wisdom.
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on 12 March 2006
I put this on at about 5 in the afternoon and watched it all the way through to midnight, it was THAT good! I couldn't stop watching it, I was so impatient to see what would happen next to all of the characters, especially Dorothea and Will Ladislaw (phwoar!)! You really care about what happens to them, and that of course is one of the most important things about a film. I was sad when it ended and I had to leave them! The acting was absolutely superb, the plot intriguing, the script excellent (well obviously; it was Andrew Davies who wrote it, the master of period drama adaptations!). I'm a great lover of period dramas and romance, and this certainly didn't disappoint (far from it!). What are you waiting for? Buy it!
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on 17 January 2013
I love the novel so wasn't expecting much from this but in fact it is superb. All the characters have real depth and complexity and Eliot's empathy for even the least sympathetic comes across very well. To me this is so much better and more interesting series than any of the Dickens's adaptations that seem to so dominate the 'classical' market. But then Eliot was a far more sophisticated novelist.
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