68 of 75 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Gormenghast [DVD]  (DVD)
I watched Gormenghast when it was originally shown on BBC television and was totally raptured. From the outset, it appears you have a window into a lustrous, animated, impressionist, surrealist painting; such are the amazing backdrops of the extensive, eclectic, idiosynchratic castle alongside the costumes, expressions and eccentricities of the characters. It really feels like you have entered the imaginations of a flamboyant distopian; Gormenghast is all at once rich, beautiful, haggard and doomed. The intensity of the film, the strength of the characters and the epic nature of the story may be a little too much for some viewers (like a particularly rich chocolate gateau) but it is fun and handily divided into four parts.
Now for the issue of the book versus the televised version. As previously said, I watched the television series when it was first broadcast. I managed to wade my way through the trilogy of books (the last of which is not included in the adaptation) in the last year. It is true that the adaptation makes necessary exclusions and changes to enable it to be digested on film. My opinion on re-makes and adaptations is that if significant changes have been made, it can only be chastised if it affects the enjoyment of the original: in the case of Gormenghast, when I read the novels, the television adaptation soon lost its influence; I saw nearly all of the characters differently (apart from the sister Clarice and Cora) and enjoyed the books on their own merit.
Therefore, despite the changes and somewhat misinterpreted characters (such as Fuschia - a character I empathised with in the books, but cannot in the film) I think the BBC adaptation is a beautiful, exciting, disturbing achievement and should be enjoyed alongside the books. Well done, Auntie!