Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Dombey and Son|
Actors: Julian Glover, Lysette Anthony, Shirley Cain, Roger Milner, Zelah Clarke
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 08/15/2006 Rating: Nr
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felicitaz | NY, USA | 11/11/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In some ways, "Dombey and Son" is Dickens' saddest novel. It's a story about a father who, through his infatuation with his own image, irrevocably loses both his children, and then realizes too late the value of what he has lost.
Around such a wrenching theme Dickens wrote a remarkably buoyant and lively story, with sharp contrasts of darkness and brightness, piquant characterizations (and caricatures) and humor. I'd been wishing and hoping that there was a dramatization of this novel out there, and was delighted to find this version.
**SOME SPOILERS FOLLOW**
In 10 episodes, this production unfurls the story with great faithfulness to the book. When one has read the novel beforehand, one pictures characters and scenes, and it sometimes is tough for a production to live up to one's expectations. However, as I waited for favorite characters to appear, I was again and again exclaiming, "He's wonderful!" (of Captain Cuttle) or "She's marvelous!" (of Mrs. Pipchin.) It was like opening a Christmas present and finding something you wished for. They looked exactly as I'd pictured them, both in looks and manner--not a bit watered-down, nor smoothed out as Hollywood productions often make them.
It's difficult to warm to Mr. Dombey as a character, so I can't hold it against Julian Glover that he comes across as stiff and dry. He does an excellent job of conveying a sort of dormant animosity toward his hapless daughter, Florence, which makes its occasional expression all the more jarring (as when he refers to his son Paul as his "only child".) Lysette Anthony is sweet and warm as Florence, the daughter whom he cannot love but instead regards as a rival for his son's affection. One of the challenges of the story (as in many of Dickens' stories) is how to handle mawkish Victorian sentimentality. This dramatization treats these risky scenes sparely and believably--without at all injecting anachronistic attitudes or behavior. For instance, a modern reader often gets impatient with how much mistreatment Florence puts up with before she finally turns her back on her father and leaves home. Here, her devotion and longing for affection is always felt, but she doesn't act like a doormat--and when the final blow comes, she is out of there.
Most of the color comes from the sideline characters: Captain Cuttle, Miss Tox (a deliciously & delicately eccentric portrayal), the blue-faced Major Bagstock, Mrs. "Cleopatra" Skewton, the sweetly vacant Mr. Toots, and gravelly Mr. Toodles.
My favorite was Zelah Clarke's aptly-named Susan Nipper, the short-tempered but good-hearted nurse/companion of Florence. I think this production is worth seeing on the strength of her performance alone.
And of course, Walter Gay. Too bad he's offstage for most of this story.
If the 10th episode had been equal to the other 9, I would have given this DVD 5 stars. However, at the very end, everything so carefully built up is hastily and anticlimactically ended. I was disappointed. It was so abrupt that if it hadn't been followed by the credits, I could not have believed that it was over. It has the appearance of a desperate hurry to wrap things up. They probably needed an 11th episode to allow the viewer to adjust to the new overturned state of things, and develop Dombey in his humbled state. This is the crux of the novel, and it was just dashed through. It would not be so disturbing if the preceding 9 episodes hadn't been so good.
Another disappointment is the absence of the whole sidestory of James Carker/John Carker/Harriet Carker/Alice Brown, which gives depth and explanation to James Carker's villainy. There is a theme of doubles and mirror images in "Dombey and Son" which was lost by the omission of these characters--John Carker, the repentant embezzler vs. James Carker, the arrogant self-righteous manager, who is ruining the company in a much worse way; the artificial old lady Mrs. Skewton vs. the witch-like Mrs. Brown, both mothers; and their exploited daughters, the proud, well-bred purchased bride, Edith vs. the bitter prostitute, Alice. And Alice's role in the final downfall of James Carker contributes one of the most icy and memorable scenes in the book. This might have taken a few more episodes to include, but it would have been worth it, to make this grand production an absolute masterpiece.
Nevertheless, if you love Dickens, you must see this production. It is rewarding in many ways. You will find jewels of enjoyment here."
These BBC classics are 'classics'
Russell | Tonbridge, Kent , United Kingdom | 01/27/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Maybe it's a nostalgia trip but I've been waiting for these series to be released on DVD for a long time. In the 70's and 80's these multi-part adaptations used to be shown on TV here in the UK on a Sunday afternoon, around tea-time as we say, and as soon as VCR's became affordable I would record these and watch them again and again. For some reason I can't remember, I didn't manage to get all of Dombey & Son so this DVD release is a special moment for me - indeed 20 years since I've seen the whole series. No big budget, no CGI, just the pinnacle of quality for acting, screenplay and production values; don't hesitate to buy if you like Victorian literature. PS, also recommended, Bleak House, Jane Eyre, Pickwick Papers, The Brontes of Haworth, Tennant of Wildfell Hall, etc."
Dombey and Son
Maria | 01/02/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Dombey and Son" is about a relationship between a father and a daughter. Mr.Dombey has predestined his son to become his coworker in his business. Over the years, Mr. Dombey's son gets all the attention and his daughter (Florence) gets none. This is very intriguing story about relationships and how they can be either broken or sustained. One small draw back from the film is the character of Mr. Dombey. I have not read the book, so I don't know if the book is equally vague sometimes on the character's past and motives. While watching the film, I really enjoyed the wonderful acting and the cinematography which really enhanced the sub-dialogue in Dickens tale."
N. Muir | New York, NY USA | 11/13/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'd never seen Dombey & Son, nor had I ever read the book, so I didn't really know what to expect. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire show. There is something about Dickens that only the British know how to do, and, while the glaring production values of a would-be Hollywood deal might, you would think, make for more worthwhile watching, this is definitely not the way to go when dealing with Dickens, and thankfully not the case with this production.
The realism of a show like Dombey & Son can very much be felt as you watch, and the show is so quiet at times, you can hear a pin drop, unlike today's productions with background music and special effects coming in at the most inopportune of times.
Dombey & Son, which should more aptly be called Dombey & Daughter, is a cold, hard story of a Father who did not love his daughter, and never tried to conceal it. He instead heaps all of his hopes and love (such as he could muster for one so cold and stiff) on his son, while totally neglecting the emotional needs of his daughter. The story is most brilliantly acted and protrayed, while preserving the feel of what, I would imagine, is the closest the viewer could ever come to the world Dicken's lived in."