Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Caroline Blakiston, Mary Healey, Gillian Lewis, Matthew Long, John Duttine
Directors: Brian Mills, Mary McMurray, Richard Martin, Ronald Wilson
Genres: Drama, Television
Surprisingly good, but dark
E. Eccher | Boston, MA | 10/19/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I tracked down this mini-series solely because I wanted to see other work by John Duttine, who was so outstanding in "To Serve Them All My Days." Based on the little I knew about "The Mallens," I wasn't expecting much, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that it held the melodrama in check and featured very fine acting. It has that "Masterpiece Theater" tempo of being slow enough to give you a sense of what life in rural 1860s North England probably was like, without being so slow that it bores. The characters, while very different in their assumptions and motivations than we expect in contemporary fiction, struck me as believable and understandable. One warning though: the material is very dark.
** SPOILER **
People die in ways or under circumstances that are very foreign to 21st century life, i.e., consumption, accidents. But that's part of what I found rather fascinating about it -- the sense of fatalism is palpable. Worth a look if you appreciate well-made period melodrama.
The Mallens saga
Barbara S. Catron | South Florida | 06/27/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Bought this DVD box set after watching the Forsyte Saga. I have always been a fan of Cookson's books and the adaptation of this one was done very well. It is set in nineteenth-century England and has all the things you need in a movie, scandals, love and violence. The Mallens are a cursed family and from one generation to the next they can't escape."
I laughed, I cried, I was bored
A. J Terry | 11/07/2005
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I laughed at the tragedy. I cried at the quality. And in the end, I was bored.
The problem with the _The Mallens_ isn't just that it's a melodrama. A considerable amount of real Victorian melodrama was written-and popular. It isn't just that it's unremittingly depressing. Thomas Hardy is unremittingly depressing.
It isn't just that _The Mallens_ features lovers doomed by the "immoral" quality of their relationships, plus cruel parents and guardians keeping them apart. What about _Wuthering Heights_? It isn't just that the characters include a governess who spends her life longing to penetrate the upper crust (what about _Jane Eyre_?); a villainous, lecherous, long-pedigreed aristocrat; a consumptive (or two; but many real and fictional Victorians died of consumption); an alcoholic (but ever-faithful) family servant; a sternly religious, ever-disapproving father; incredibly over-possessive mothers and guardians; and overall deeply dysfunctional families. It's not that it includes a gloomy, but impressive castle; a family curse; a (possible) ghost; a gypsy with dire predictions; several suicides; a (possible) murder-suicide; a death by dueling; a mysterious inheritance that everyone wants and may even be entitled to; a bankruptcy; some thefts; an amputation; incest; two rapes; numerous adulteries; and a case of intermittent insanity.
The problem with _The Mallens_ is that it includes _all_ these things. None of the characters ever do anything normal or show any promise of doing so. There's no scene that I can think of where the characters are not at some emotional extreme-no quiet BBC teas in this film! And some scenes are really over the top-like the one where the wealthy (for the time being) aristocrat and his upper-crust friends take all the ladies (respectable women of their own class) on their backs to ride horsie as a normal evening entertainment. And it doesn't help that most of the male characters sport not only late 20th-century hairstyles, but absurdly wiggy "big hair."
Skip this film. As the governess constantly tells everyone, it's for your own good."
Barbara S. Catron | 07/09/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"There are wonderful miniseries out there. Either of the Forsyth Sagas, Wives and Daughters, Berkley Square and all of the Upstairs Downstairs series. Even Catherine Cookson's The Girl or Glass Virgin is better. This is not one of those. This is heavy going with unlikeable people and often absurd situations. Call me a fool but someone, somewhere should end up happy in these stories."