Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Good Soldier|
Actor: Jermey Brett; Robin Ellis; John Ratzenberger; Vickery Turner; Susan Fleetwood; Elizabeth Garvie; Pauline Moran; Roger Hammond
Director: Kevin Billington
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
Behind the fašade of perfect lives lies a prison of elicit passion and deception Two wealthy, handsome couples?one English, one American?meet at a German spa and forge an immediate bond. Through nine seasons at the spa, th... more »
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A brilliant adaption of Ford Maddox Ford's best novel
R. H OAKLEY | Vienna, VA United States | 04/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This production of "The Good Soldier" shows what television can do to translate a terrific novel to the screen. The story is about two couples, one American and one British, and is narrated by the American husband. As the story develops, he realizes that most of what he has believed about his relationship with his wife and with his British friends is based upon lies. For this reason, several crucial scenes are shown twice -- the first time they appear innocent or inexplicable; the second time, when the narrator has learned of the events leading up to the scenes, they take on a very different appearance. The uncertainty of the truth of what you are seeing is indicated in an opening montage of various scenes from the entire story, which (if you haven't read the novel) will seem very confusing at first. By the end of story, you can see why the narrator begins by describing this as the saddest story he knows. I saw the production decades ago on PBS, and then for many years had a recorded VHS tape (now gone). It's great to have this on DVD. It would be nice to know if there are any special features, but even there aren't, it's still great.
By the way, it's true that John Ratzenberger (Cliffie on Cheers) does a great job as a seductive love interest for one of the women. Hard to believe if you watched Cheers, but Ratzenberger has a wider range as an actor than you would think."
Faithful to the Spirit of Ford's Novel
Sherringford Clark | Mayor's Income, Tennessee | 04/25/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Of course, much is lost in the translation of "The Good Soldier" from page to screen, chiefly the narrative and temporal complexities of the novel. However, the television adapatation is successful in its use of time shifts, and, like Ford's work, the film is impressionistic, often showing us a scene twice to give the viewer two different impressions.
However, we lose Dowell's process of writing itself and his relation with the reader. In the film, Dowell is mainly absent from the last third of the story because it is told from Leonora's perspective, whereas in the novel Dowell's voice is dominant throughout, even when he is recounting what has only been told him.
Of course, any book - especially a modernist novel - loses a good deal of its complexity in the transition to film, and "The Good Soldier" is on the whole a successful adaptation of the novel, much better than the adpatations of other modernist novels I've seen, like "Ulysses" and "Mrs. Dalloway." The film was shot on location in Nauheim and elsewhere in Germany, which shows the care this production takes with Ford's work.
The four principals are all excellent in their roles, particularly Jeremy Brett and Susan Fleetwood as the Ashburnhams. The score was excellent as well. The production also keeps Dowell's voiceovers to a minimum, which may be something of a loss but it is welcome in a televison adpatation, which thankfully shows us a great deal of the action instead of telling.
Overall, then, I found this adaptation of "The Good Soldier" to be one of the more successful installments of "Masterpiece Theater" and probably one of the best film made from a modernist novel that I have seen. While we lose the complexities of Dowell's narration and his potential unreliabilty, the film utilizes the time-shifts and impressionistic technique of Ford's novel, and there are subtle hints that Dowell may know more than he lets on. Thus, the film's success stems from its faithfulness to the aesthetic spirit of Ford's novel.
Caveat: The film will make little sense at first to those who have not read the novel, which is required reading for anyone who wants to understand the nuances of the story."
A stellar cast
Midwest Book Review | Oregon, WI USA | 06/09/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With a stellar cast that includes Jeremy Brett, Robin Ellis, Susan Fleetwood, Vickery Turner, Elizabeth Garvie, Pauline Moran, and John Ratzenberger, "The Good Soldier" is the story of two Edwardian couples who become friends when meeting for nine consecutive years at an annual retreat in a German spa. Superbly adapted from the novel by Ford Madox Ford, "The Good Soldier" features beautiful costuming, meticulous set designs, and superb photography in a 104 minute production that is technically flawless in its execution. Viewers are treated to an unfolding story of unexpected plot twists, memorable characters, and shifting perspectives, as this remarkably engaging story of love, loss, betrayal is revealed. Strongly recommended for community library video collections, the DVD format of "The Good Soldier" allows for the inclusion of a Ford Madox Ford biography, cast filmographies, and a scene index feature."
Gorgeous production of a sad story
R. Swanson | New Mexico | 09/19/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am a very visual person so I can sit through lots of meaningless despair as long as it photographed in beautiful settings with lots of lush costumes and fantastic architecture. This film has all of that. It helps that the cast is strong and rather attractive, too. It makes for a "good show."
As for the content, well...I found the story interesting, told as it is, from the view point of the man who was deceived. First we see the splendid surface--the two wealthy couples, one American, one English, in a German spa, pre-World War I. They spend several years together, performing, as the narrator says, a "minuet." A lovely picture. Then the narrator lets us in to the story behind the story, almost as he has discovered it. From reading some of the reviews of the book, it seems that the narrator is much more befuddled than he is portrayed in the film. That may be a flaw in the translation of book to film...I don't know. As the layers of the characters peel away and we learn of the rotten-ness at the core of the apple (his words), the story intensifies, or as they used to say, "the plot thickens."
My attention was held throughout, mostly by the strength of the actors and the visual splendors. The plot, itself, doesn't have much to offer modern audiences. We know about adultery, betrayal, revenge, hypocrasy. There is nothing here that illumines any of the characters, raises them up to a higher plane. No one changes, learns anything, grows, transcends his dire situation. Most of the players chose cowardly outs---three out of five chose suicide, and one descends into madness. So I wasn't left with a particularly satisfied feeling at the end.
The main character, who is supposed to be the befuddled weakling, was played by the charming Robin Ellis, who I fell in love with in the tv series, "Poldark." That's probably what kept my interest--not a great reason. But he remains as befuddled at the end as he was in the beginning. So one could ask "What's the point of all this?" Perhaps Ford Maddox Ford was using this as a means to discover answers to his the riddles of his own life. Here he offers us questions but no answers.
I suppose there is more value to the story if one were to read the novel, but having seen this, I don't think I'll bother. I give it four stars just for the splendid production. (It was really funny to see John Ratzenberger, Cliff Claven, the mail man in "Cheers," in a totally different setting.)"