Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Brontes of Haworth|
Actors: Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Alfred Burke, Vickery Turner, Ann Penfold, Sheila Raynor
Director: Marc Miller
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
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For this reviewer, the best dramatisation of the life of the
Russell | Tonbridge, Kent , United Kingdom | 09/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Discovering the Brontes in my teens in the seventies and subsequently becoming a member of the Bronte Society for over ten years, I remember this series reached an almost mythological status. It originated here in the UK on Yorkshire television from 1974 and though, at Society meetings in London, everyone by reputation praised it, none of us had actually seen it! It had probably never been shown on television outside of the Yorkshire area. Then in the mid-nineties it was released as a plain-wrapped educational two-video set and I then found out the reason for all the praise. But on video and from 20 year-old master tapes it was a prime candidate for DVD treatment so a heart-felt thanks to BFS Video of Canada for having the good taste to do this.
Now I will concede that the pictures manifested in the mind from reading a book are very personal; more so Victorian literature with it's attention to detail on characterisations. Victorian novel fans have probably all at sometime shouted at the TV screen "that's nothing like Heathcliffe -Rochester -Becky Sharpe -Mr Dombey (insert favourite character here)"! but having read just about all there is to read on the Bronte Sisters this dramatisation for me is faultless.
It must be remembered however this is not a big-budget production, with big name actors and a computer-generated Haworth and Yorkshire moors - it resembles the made-for-TV BBC classics from the seventies and eighties, and I mean that as a compliment. These series were known for using superb, restrained stage actors who knew how to convey that minute Victorian detail of character and emotion for close-up TV work. The locations are genuine as well: filmed at the Bronte Parsonage (the later wing added after the Brontes time carefully cropped from view); at the small quarry just above Haworth; and the waterfall and Pennine moors west of Haworth. The interior shots, though I'm sure studio sets, are also spot on.
I can vouch for the accuracy of the Brontes' story as portrayed in this series and there are some points to mention that illustrate the quality of the research and the acting: the too-little mentioned self-deprecating humour of all the Sisters is well portrayed; Mr Bronte is not portrayed as the usual priggish, strict, disciplinarian but is presented as an understanding father who actually gave his daughters an unusual, for the time, amount of freedom and support; Anne Bronte is quite correctly given an equal amount of importance as a sister and author and her worldliness is emphasised as well; Aunt Branwell is nicely presented in a kinder light than usual; Emily Bronte for all her genius and mystique is portrayed here as refreshingly ordinary and out of the all the sisters we see her in domestic situations the most; last but not least Vickery Turner's Charlotte is, for me, just perfect; especially her humour and energy but most important of all at the end when you wonder just how much more tragedy can befall a person her Charlotte doesn't become either a pathetic victim or a cold stoic; under such tragic circumstances she could so easily become distanced from the viewer and indeed, herself, end up like a character from a Victorian melodrama.
As I said earlier, biographical dramatisations are very personal and subjective but for me I can't imagine a more moving, well acted or more accurate portrayal of the most talented family in English literature."
Great for Bronte lovers but perhaps a bit of a bore for othe
Susan K. Schoonover | Boulder, CO | 09/09/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've loved the story of the Bronte family ever since I read Jane Eyre at age eleven and have since read everything I could about this unusual, talented family. This production follows closely the facts of their lives as I have understood them though the first half especially focuses so much on Branwell that Charlotte, Emily and Anne fall in to the background. As another reviewer wrote Charlotte's time in Belgium could have been expanded especially since it so heavily influenced her writing in both Jane Eyre and Villette. One of the high points of the film is the actresses playing the girls are made up and portray themselves so they closely match the famous portrait Branwell painted of the trio. I loved the little things that were brought out - fiercely intelligent Charlotte so nearsighted that without her spectacles she has to almost put her face to the print as she reads and writes, brilliant eccentric Emily who rises from her death bed to feed the dogs and sweet Anne perhaps the least gifted but the one most likely to have led a conventional life if only circumstances had been different. The actor playing Branwell does a good job as he falls from the bright shining hope of the family to crazed recluse destined to be the first Bronte to die young. We are never sure if it was drink, drugs, depression or just failure to meet his dreams that turned him in to a decrepit heap rarely rising from his bed. Rev. Bronte is portrayed as almost unbelievably passive as he takes the self destruction of his son and the later deaths of his daughters stoically. The only thing that ever really upsets him is when Charlotte's future husband, Arthur, first begins to show a romantic interest in her. Yet after Charlotte's death Arthur is the only one left to care for the old man so he deigns to considers him a "son". But as Rev. Bronte says himself in the final scene he is "eccentric". I do think that many viewers who do not know the story of the Brontes will find this production to be confusing, boring and ultimately depressing but this Bronte lover at least was thrilled to find the Brontes and their parsonage and Yorkshire moors acted out on the small screen."
What were these people thinking?
Agnes Morgwain | Norwich, UK | 04/06/2001
(1 out of 5 stars)
"My British lit class watched about 10 minutes of this bizarre pseudo-biography. Among the strange sites was an actress inexplicably dressed in a regency gown with short cropped blonde hair. She was supposed to be Emily! Meanwhile two actors in modern dress recited one of Emily Bronte's early verse narratives with American accents. All I can say is I hope the school district did not spend a lot of money on this tape."
VICTORIAN DAYS OF THE BRONTES
Jerry W. Watkins | HIXSON (CHATTANOOGA), TENNESSEE | 03/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THE BRONTES OF HAWORTH, AND BRONTE COUNTRY ARE GOOD INVESTMENTS FOR INFORMATION ON THE VICTORIAN DAYS/PERIOD. LIFESTYLES,CULTURE,THE EMPHASIS ON WRITING AND WITH ARTISTIC PENMANSHIP, ARE ALL PART OF THE BRONTE COUNTRY DVD AS WELL AS IN THE BRONTES OF HAWORTH. MUCH HAS BEEN WRITTEN BY AUTHORS ABOUT THE BRONTES PERSONAL LIFE AS WELL AS THE SIGNS OF VICTORIAN TIMES. THE BRONTES OF HAWORTH DVD, WAS LIKE ME VIEWING THE LIFE AND TIME OF THE VICTORIAN DAYS OF OLD. IT WAS EASY TO STEP BACK INTO TIME,VIEWING THE ACTORS AS THEY PORTRAYED THE BRONTES, AS WELL AS THE BRONTES FAMILY AND FRIENDS. CHARLOTTE BRONTE, WATCHED WITH HORROR EVERY TIME ONE OF THE FAMILY MEMBERS DIED. SHE STATED, SOMEWHERE IN A BOOK, THAT SHE HELD MOST ALL OF THE FAMILY MEMBERS IN HER ARMS AS THEY PASSED FROM LIFE INTO DEATH AND ETERNITY. MOST DIED FROM TUBERCULOSIS/CONSUMPTION/TYPHOID. GET BOTH DVD'S/VCR TAPES OF THE BRONTES OF HAWORTH AND BRONTE COUNTRY. I'M GOING BACK AND LOOK AT BOTH OF THEM AGAIN.
JERRY W. WATKINS"