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First Among Equals
First Among Equals
Actors: Tom Wilkinson, John Breslin, Jonathan Bridge, David Robb, Anita Carey
Directors: Sarah Harding, John Gorrie, Brian Mills
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
UR     2008     8hr 14min

"The ring of authenticity is genuine" -- The New York Times Sex, money, and power in the halls of Parliament No one knows political intrigue better than Jeffrey Archer, the internationally bestselling author and erstwhile ...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: Tom Wilkinson, John Breslin, Jonathan Bridge, David Robb, Anita Carey
Directors: Sarah Harding, John Gorrie, Brian Mills
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
Studio: Acorn Media
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 09/16/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 8hr 14min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 3
SwapaDVD Credits: 3
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
Edition: Box set
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Sex, backstabbing, relationships, and more in this British p
Harold Wolf | Wells, IN United States | 08/18/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"New Scottish MP, Andrew Fraser, is joined by new MP, mid class lawyer Raymond Gould, on the Labor party side of government. New MPs, wealthy Charles Seymour and his personal rival, Simon Kerslake, both sit on the Tory side. It is British politics as its finest, or worst as the moment dictates. It doesn't take a lot of former knowledge of how the government from the islands works to enjoy this 10-part series.

The story is more about how the 4 new MPs work and connive to further their ambition of becoming Prime Minister. Only one will succeed. Who? How? Well, I'll not tell who, but the how is through 20-plus years of political and personal manipulation of people and events. Each man seems willing to use almost anything and anyone at times to get to the desired office. It's not unlike American politics and the Presidential quest.

There is sex and prostitutes (models they call themselves) willing to bare all (and do onscreen) to help, and also to get what they want. Wives are sacrificed, or used, or replaced, or relied on at times. The debates and bickering that take place on the floor of legislature brings many a chuckle as each attempts to put the opposition in its place--but using the most delicate of language, in the stiff, polite, British fashion.

You'll find yourself booing one man, then applauding the same ambitious fellow in the next segment. One thing for sure, you won't want to pause between the 10 episodes.

Money, sex, power, fighting, killing, mystery, drama, laughs, and London all packaged into this powerful Parliament political package."
Fair Adaptation of the Book
D. Lowrie | Fairfield, CA United States | 11/14/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I have been a fan of the book since it first come out, having read it well over a dozen times. I was eager to purchase the video adaptation once it came out on DVD. Overall, I was pleased.
The miniseries is a fairly faithful adaptation of the book, with some scenes taken word for word from the printed page. In other cases, changes are made to the storyline -- in some cases to advance the plot quickly, in others for no apparent reason. However, the general plot of the book is retained.
My major quibble with the series is its casting. Jeffery Archer's description of his major characters was detailed, and in most cases the actors do not resemble the characters in the book. This was the major drawback for me, but I doubt it will matter to any but avid fans of the original.
All told, I recommend this miniseries."
Even after a quarter century, still timely
Jody | Northwest Ohio | 04/16/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Americans find British politics fascinating, with its labyrinthine old boy networks and swiftly shifting alliances and loyalties, not to mention those career derailing votes of no confidence. First Among Equals follows four newly minted MPs from the day they take their oaths in 1966 through the next twenty-five years. Because of the title, we know that one of these gentlemen will wind up as Prime Minister. Aside from the great characters, it's interesting to watch the Viet Nam War, Watergate and the Iranian hostage crisis through this British prism.

Fans of the book should know that Charles Hampton, resident of Eaton Square has become Charles Seymour of Knightsbridge. The character of Andrew Fraser has been added to the original trio and some of the events that happened to other characters in the book have been transferred to Fraser and his family and a few other things have been changed--like the ending.

The issues and pressures facing Seymour, Gould, Kerslake and Fraser are the same ones that show up in headlines all the time. Family obligations, marital difficulties, greed, the ever present power struggles and the weakness of character that leads to legal difficulties and vulnerability to blackmail. All four have very different relationships with their wives and the wives' roles are as complicated and juicy as the four main characters. The characters are neither caricature nor stereotype which makes for very rewarding viewing.

Though it's wonderful that Acorn has made this series available on DVD, the quality is great. Originally recorded on tape instead of flim, the transcription to disc does nothing for that almost painful shallowness of picture that is peculiar to tape. Some of the sound is muffled making dialogue difficult to understand, sometimes the images are indistinct, and there is one scene where everything is outlined in magenta. Still, I'd rather have an imperfect version than none at all, but don't expect high quality.

Special features are filmographies of the four main characters and a two screen biography of Jeffrey Archer.

A quarter of a century from its first airing, besides the quality of the DVD, First Among Equals is still compelling. That was a pleasant surprise, since I really enjoyed it in 1986 and was afraid it wouldn't age well. Another reviewer said that the actors in the principal roles do not fit Mr. Archer's descriptions. Perhaps that's true, but after reading the book and seeing the series, it's difficult to imagine anyone else playing those roles.

Here's the thing: In my opinion, the book ended perfectly. The miniseries did not, and when I saw it, I felt cheated. Despite the poor quality of the transfer to DVD, I would have rated it five stars had it stuck to the story. It's still worth seeing, just not five stars worth."
Entertaining development of British politicians
Trevor Henderson | 11/22/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

""First Among Equals" is primarily about the ambitions and educations of four aspiring British politicians from the 1960s to the end of the 1980s.
We watch them learn, grow, and become who they were meant to be -- fulfilling their destinies as they discover who they are, what they believe in, and what and who they are willing to sacrifice to reach Number 10 Downing Street.
They learn to balance their personal lives with their personal ambitions.
The plot and acting are first rate. The characters are intriguing. I found some of the supporting characters more intriguing than the some of the four primary ones, but that only adds to the enjoyment.
I found myself watching five hours straight without realizing it -- the story is that interesting.
Even though my favorite did not win in the end that only made the story that much more intriguing."