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Vanity Fair (1998)
Vanity Fair 1998 BBC version
Loved this production! I had never read the book (I will now!) but have grown to have a lot of trust in any adaptation that BBC does. I was not disappointed. Especially impressive was the ability of Natasha Little (Becky Sharp) to express Becky's manipulativeness through her subtle facial expressions and subtle use of her eyes and her voice. She was able to convey the mix of wicked cunning and refined pleasantness in a way that was really convincing. Not hard to believe that so many of the characters were completely sucked in by Becky's wiles. This subtle and superb acting ability is often lost in modern films that rely so heavily on on visual/graphic effects to make the point. Bravo,BBC!
Little Dorrit (2008)
Little Dorrit BBC movie--possible spoiler alert
I am a great fan of period dramas in general, and especially of the Andrew Davies BBC adaptations. Of all the movies done of Pride and Prejudice, none come anywhere near the exemplary dramatization done by Mr. Davies.
I saw the original 1988? movie of Little Dorrit, and apparently was one of the few who really enjoyed it! I thought the actress Sarah Pickering was appropriately waifish, mysterious, resolute but "minding her humble place," and I have no problem with actresses re-creating characters that are accurately representative of the way women behaved in that time period, and the way Dickens wrote them. The sassiness that 21st century actress often bring Dickens' characters is bothersome because it is simply not an accurate representation. We have to get past our pride to accept that this is just how reality was back then, and if done right, the proper 19th century representation can have something very refreshing and winsome about it. That is why I enjoyed Sarah Pickering's Dorrit.
Having said that, Andrew Davies' Little Dorrit was really very good. Claire Foy as Amy was a bit saucy at times for my taste, but overall did an excellent job. The entire production was high-class and visually very attractive.
The plot had some unexplainable loose ends, and since I haven't read the book, I'm not sure if it's a fault of the book, or because the movie just ran out of time. For example, Tattiecorem was a big, colorful character, well-developed, at the beginning of the story. By the end of the story, I wondered what had happened to her and what was the purpose of her character being in the story at all. Same with Pet and Henry--after the baby was born, what happened to them?? And I didn't understand the purpose of the Blandois character to the plot in general. He was a frightening, vicious killer at the beginning. By the end he was an annoying, intrusive extortionist but kind of lost the "evil". I can't figure out why Dickens needed a character like that to expose the secret of Mrs. Clennan. It seemed totally unrelated to the rest of the story. Perhaps Mr. Davies just had too many characters to deal with, even with such an epically long program.
But none of that detracted from my enjoyment of the movie. It was high quality in every way. I plan to buy the DVD and add it to my collection!