"Winifred Holtby realised that Local Government is not a dry affair of meetings and memoranda:- but 'the front-line defence thrown up by humanity against its common enemies of sickness, ... See full summary »
North Riding, East Riding and West Riding are the real parts of Yorkshire, a riding being a third part of an area. A South Riding therefore could never have existed, but was created by Winifred Holtby to cover the East Riding south of Flamborough (Hardrashead) and east of Hull (Kingsport). The main town in the story, Kiplington, is a hybrid of Withernsea and Hornsea. See more »
Brilliant as an adaptation and as a standalone, the best of the three versions by some way
Though all three versions are very interesting and neither in my opinion are bad. The 2011 adaptation was too short and had a very rushed final episode but was very enjoyable on the most part, while the 1938 film was heavily flawed being too short, feeling a bit too jumpy narratively, having an underwritten Joe and the latter half being caked in over-sentimentality but it was very evocatively made and was well directed and acted. The best of the three versions though is this 1974 series, the only one close to perfect. Don't let the length and pacing deter you, South Riding- a literary masterpiece and a great operation recovery remedy- is a big book, a long one with a lot going on. Like I said with a number of Charles Dickens and George Eliot adaptations(The Woman in White too), the slow deliberate pacing was necessary as was the long but not overlong length, otherwise it would have been rushed and incoherent. The first episode also admittedly is heavy-going with you being told and shown a lot, but stick with it because the series gets even more engrossing. The series looks elegant and true to period, the Yorkshire sights and sounds also beautifully evoked, and it is photographed with care. There will be those who find it dated by today's standards, not for me and if it was(emphasis on if) it was part of the charm. Ron Grainer's music is understated and appropriate to the mood, it doesn't have the memorable sweep of Richard Adinsell's score in the 1938 film but considering that this is a different medium, a mini-series rather than a film, that's hardly a detriment.
The dialogue is incredibly thought-provoking with room for heart-warming smiles and also tears, it also has the feeling of the prose of the book brought to life and the dialects and behaviours of the characters are loyally adapted too. The story didn't feel tedious or too stretched out, the many characters and subplots ensure there is a lot going on but because of the length and pace these have time to unfold properly and have time to breathe and expand. It's engrossing and moving story-telling, true in spirit and detail to the book(always helps but for adaptations complete fidelity isn't and shouldn't be considered an issue), and most importantly all the way through it's coherent. South Riding(1974) is skilfully directed and the acting helped by the very vividly written characterisations is fabulous. There's not, and probably won't ever be, a Mrs Beddows better than Hermione Baddeley, while Dorothy Tutin is firm yet sympathetic as Sarah and Nigel Davenport is a nuanced and brooding Robert Carne, the relationship between Sarah and Robert starts off very polar opposites with Robert representing a lot of what Sarah strongly dislikes but turns out very tender. John Cater gives his most affecting performance as Snaif, he is manipulative and untrustworthy initially yet very tormented and with his heart in the right place(the sort of character perhaps who makes bad decisions thinking they're not). Norman Jones is fine as Joe, sleazy, charming and touchingly dignified, extra brownie points given too for exploring in detail and vividly his background which the 2011 and 1938 versions did not do. In conclusion, brilliant mini-series and adaptation, for fans of the book this is the version to see. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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