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The Buccaneers
The Buccaneers
Actors: Carla Gugino, Alison Elliott, Mira Sorvino, Rya Kihlstedt, Mark Tandy
Director: Philip Saville
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
NR     2006     5hr 2min

Deemed nouveau riche and shunned by elitist New York society, sisters Nan and Virginia St. George, along with their friends Lizzy Elmsworth and Conchita Closson (Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino), try their luck in London...  more »

     

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Movie Details

Actors: Carla Gugino, Alison Elliott, Mira Sorvino, Rya Kihlstedt, Mark Tandy
Director: Philip Saville
Creators: Philip Saville, Nigel Taylor, Phillippa Giles, Rebecca Eaton, Rosalind Wolfes, Edith Wharton, Maggie Wadey
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Television
Studio: BBC Warner
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 04/18/2006
Original Release Date: 10/08/1995
Theatrical Release Date: 10/08/1995
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 5hr 2min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 17
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A wonderful treat!
Marcy Gomez | Kansas City, USA | 07/10/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"My sister and I adore this mini-series which was shown in Masterpiece Theater many years ago. Anyone who enjoys turn-of-the-century films such as The Age of Innocence, House of Mirth, The Golden Bowl, A Room With A View and Howard's End or stories of the Astors and Vanderbilts will find themselves enraptured with this tale of 4 beautiful American women who find themselves being courted by sons of the British nobility.In the center of the story are Nan (Carla Gugino) and Virginia St. George (Alison Eliott), and their friends Conchita Closson (Mira Sorvino) and Lizzy Elmsworth (Rya Kihlstedt) - four young women living in turn-of-the-century America, when social status and wealth were the most important considerations in a woman's life (these were the days of the Astors and Vanderbilts, after all). Early in the story we find Conchita married to Lord Marable and begins her new life with the English nobility. Spurned in Newport and New York social circles because they are considered "new money," Nan, Virginia and Lizzy travel to England to visit Conchita and hopefully try their luck there. With the help of 2 enterprising older women, they soon become the toast of the town and are courted by many handsome, wealthy young men. Virginia and Lizzy vie for the attentions of Lord Seadown (Mark Tandy) who is not quite what he seems. Nan is pursued by the humble but ambitious Guy Thwaite (Greg Wise from "Sense and Sensibility") and the wealthy and reserved Julius, the Duke of Trevenick (James Frain). The mini-series offers beautiful scenery and costumes, great acting from members of the cast (including veterans Cherie Lunghi, Jenny Agutter, Michael Kitchen and Rosemary Leach) and a thoroughly engaging story. I loved the fantastic mansions, palaces and castles in Newport and England alike and the wonderful intertwining of the American and British sensibilities in the plot. It has "one foot in America and another foot in England," as Masterpiece Theater narrator Russell Baker aptly explains. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys top-notch romance/drama!"
Finally!!! The Buccaneers is a wonderful treat!
Marcy Gomez | Kansas City, USA | 01/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Finally!! After many years of waiting and writing letters to PBS and the BBC to have this dvd released, it is finally coming. I am sure many others out there are breathing a sigh of relief as one of the most engaging costume dramas ever made is finally coming to dvd.

My sister and I adore this mini-series which was shown in Masterpiece Theater many years ago. Anyone who enjoys turn-of-the-century films such as The Age of Innocence, House of Mirth, A Room With A View and Howard's End or stories of the Astors and Vanderbilts will find themselves enraptured with this tale of 4 beautiful American women who find themselves being courted by sons of the British nobility.

At the center of the story are Nan (Carla Gugino) and Virginia St. George (Alison Eliott), and their friends Conchita Closson (Mira Sorvino) and Lizzy Elmsworth (Rya Kihlstedt) - four young women living in turn-of-the-century America, when social status and wealth were the most important considerations in a woman's life (these were the days of the Astors and Vanderbilts, after all). Early in the story we find Conchita married to Lord Marable (Ronan Vibert) and begins her new life with the English nobility. Spurned in Newport and New York social circles because they are considered "new money," Nan, Virginia and Lizzy travel to England to visit Conchita and hopefully try their luck there. With the help of two enterprising older women, they soon become the toast of the town and are courted by several handsome and eligible young men. Virginia and Lizzy vie for the attentions of Lord Seadown (Mark Tandy), an enigmatic nobleman who is entangled in a scandalous relationship with an older woman (Jenny Agutter). Nan is pursued by the impoverished but ambitious Guy Thwaite (Greg Wise from "Sense and Sensibility") and the wealthy and reserved Julius (James Frain from "Elizabeth"), the Duke of Trevenick. Lizzy is pursued by the common yet enterprising parliament member, Hector Robinson (Richard Huw). Courtships and marriages inevitably take place and the young ladies soon realize that British aristocratic life isn't always what it seems.

The mini-series offers beautiful scenery and costumes, great acting from members of the cast (including veterans Cherie Lunghi, Jenny Agutter, Michael Kitchen and Rosemary Leach) and a thoroughly engaging story. I loved the fantastic mansions, palaces and castles in Newport and England alike and the wonderful intertwining of the American and British sensibilities in the plot. It has "one foot in America and another foot in England," as Masterpiece Theater narrator Russell Baker aptly explains.

Along with North & South, Pride & Prejudice and Wives & Daughters (all BBC produced, incidentally), The Buccaneers is one of my favorite period dramas and holds a special place in my film library. I have watched my dvd copy so many times that it is about to wear out and I am glad that the dvd is finally coming! I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys top-notch romance/drama!
"
Wharton's last unfinished novel as completed by BBC's Maggie
dooby | 05/17/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a version of Edith Wharton's last unfinished novel as completed by the BBC screenwriter Maggie Wadey. It was filmed barely 2 years after the first complete version of the novel was published in 1993 (Completed by Marion Mainwaring). It chronicles a very different time (1870s) when class distinctions were clearly marked and the nouveau riche found themselves curtly excluded from the "old money" aristocracy of 19th century America. The story traces the lives of 4 girls from such families who finding themselves rejected in the land of their birth, travel to England to try their charms and new found wealth on the titled aristocracy of the old country. How they fare and the breaking of their illusions form the meat of the story. One reviewer commented on the shallowness and blandness of the characters, of not being able to tell the girls apart. Some viewers may even look at these girls as twittering airheads. This is in part Wharton's doing. Edith Wharton was no admirer of the American upper class. She belonged to it, she experienced it first hand and she despised it and made it evident in her books. Wharton constantly pointed out her society's ignorance, provincialism and prissy narrow-mindedness. None of the girls here really ends up living happily ever after. One of the reviewers here stated that in the absence of Wharton's own ending, the BBC screenwriter has let one of the girls off at the end. But I tend to disagree. Even the heroine Annabelle's running away with the man she loves (supposedly a happy ending) is tinged with the public scandal of adultery, the loss of her titles and privileges, and exile to the other side of the world (Durban, South Africa). This is definitely not what any of the girls would have wanted. Everybody just ends up making compromises and settling for second best. But then such is life.

As usual with the BBC, this is a beautiful production, with gorgeous costumes and sets, filmed at various locations in the English countryside as well as in Newport, Rhode Island which stands in for 19th century America.

The DVD transfer is a rather more questionable affair. According to IMDb, Buccaneers was shot on 16mm film. In America, most TV shows are shot on standard 35mm, 16mm film being used usually for cheaper productions, especially sitcoms and series whose future is in doubt. The BBC alas is publicly funded and doesn't have quite the deep pockets of competing American studios, so many of even its major productions are on 16mm. The critically acclaimed "Brideshead Revisited" immediately springs to mind. For a 16mm film, this actually looks pretty good with strong, vibrant colours, rich blacks and just a slight amount of graininess which imparts a certain softness to the picture, much what you would expect from a 16mm print. It actually looks better than "Brideshead" does on DVD. What is disturbing is the rather odd (1.50:1) aspect ratio presented here. (Yes, I actually popped it into the PC to measure it.) Buccaneers is, I believe, supposed to be in 1.66:1 widescreen. The 1.50:1 aspect ratio means that it has either been cropped or it has had its mattes removed. Either way, it has been modified. Because of the odd ratio it has to be letterboxed into a 4:3 frame. It may matter only to a handful of cinephiles or videophiles but I do wish video companies would take more care in transferring their shows onto discs. Sound is in 2.0 Stereo and dialogue is always clear and distinct."
I Wish I'd Known What I was buying...
A. Masion | Louisiana | 07/26/2006
(1 out of 5 stars)

"I love Edith Whartion, the Gilded Age, and BBC productions. This film should have been an ideal purchase for me. Instead it was a raving disappointment.

The first third or so of the series remained fairly close to the book, but the remainder mutated into soap opera sensationalism nonsense.

After watching this horror of a 5 hour series, I did a search online and found an interview with the screenplay authoress who admitted to tweaking the novel's plotlines to add interest and allow for the sensibilities of a modern audience.

In this particular miniseries liberties were taken with the storyline that completely affected the original intent and tone of the story.

Julius, Nan's husband, is portrayed as a bisexual, adulterer, and a marital rapist. Watching Julius's characterisation unfold was like witnessing a train wreck.

Nan and Julius's marriage was supposed to be the story of how a relationship fails when two good people, very young and not knowing themselves well, rush into marriage and discover disillusionment. Instead BBC treated its audience to Hollywoodized trite depicting Nan as a wronged wife ill-treated by a remote husband.

There was also something horribly off about the portrayal of Laura Testvalley's friendship with Nan. I love period pieces and I understand that social customs regarding intimate friendships in the past might seem TOO intimate at times to us strait-laced Americans, but the characters' scenes started creeping me out. The mood of the scenes struck me as more romantic than friendly/sisterly/intimate. In a way it was almost a relief when Julius was "outed" because I almost expected the two women to fall in love.

The one bright spot in this wreck of Wharton was Greg Wise (Guy Thwaite) who played his character with complete conviction and looked gorgeous beyond belief in white tie ensembles. It probably helped that Thwaite was one of the few characters allowed to retain the core Wharton penned him in to begin with. I felt like most of the other characters were strangers.

The series has some nice sets and locations and costumes appear in all their Gilded Age glory. Americans can't help but loathe the British aristocracy and their mercenery desire to marry money and then refuse to support their wives since it's beneath them to work. If you're looking for a faithful or even reasonably faithful production of the novel, though, you'll only be disappointed."