Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Mayor of Casterbridge|
Actors: Alan Bates, Janet Maw, Jack Galloway, Anna Massey, Peter Bourke
Genres: Drama, Kids & Family, Television
Studio: Acorn Media Release Date: 05/27/2003 Run time: 368 minutes Rating: Nr
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Member Movie Reviews
Samuel K. (Solvanda)
Reviewed on 3/6/2012...
This version of Hardy's (in my opinion) best novel reads between the lines of the original dialogue. As a result, I found it a more realistic portrayal, more credible than the A&E series. Hardy has much to say in this story about forgiveness, about stubborn pride, about the societal repercussions of being unrefined and uneducated, and especially about blood relations, what makes a father, how human beings need each other. The asymetrical poetic justice that arrives upon each character is quite the thing to witness.
All's well except for some diction problems
F. Behrens | Keene, NH USA | 04/13/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ah yes, remember the Golden Sundays when Masterpiece Theatre actually gave us masterpieces? When I reviewed the recent release of the 1967 "Forsyte Saga," I mentioned that its immense popularity here in the States led to the creation of Masterpiece Theatre and that the very first series seen thereon, "The First Churchills," was due to appear on Acorn Media DVDs soon. Well, the 1987 "The Mayor of Casterbridge" (AMP 6110) has come first. And thank you yet again, Acorn Media. This is the wonderful 7-part series with Alan Bates as the ill-starred Michael Henchard, who in a drunken fit sells his wife and their baby daughter to a seaman and then sees her again years later when he is a wealthy merchant and the Mayor of Casterbridge. From that moment on, nothing he does, no decision he makes, seems to come out right. It has been too long since I read the Thomas Hardy novel, but I do remember this scenario being quite faithful to its source. As with most of the older Masterpiece Theatre series, the acting is topnotch, the scenery gorgeous, the costumes and props absolutely authentic, and the dialogue intelligent and true to the novel. It has been suggested that British actors are so versatile because they work for years in repertory playing all sorts of minor roles before taking on major ones. Bates is just about perfect as the irascible main character--but we have the only major problem here: much of what he says is very hard to understand since he speaks in a quite authentic regional accent and slurs and whispers his lines far too often. Anne Stallybrass as his long-suffering wife Susan might be recalled as Henry VIII's third and best beloved wife from that series; while Janet Maw plays the almost too good to be true daughter Elizabeth-Jane without falling once into cliché. In fact, even the smallest roles are absolutely believable, so that the evil Jopp (played by Ronald Lacey, the evil Nazi with the burned hand in "Raiders of the Lost Ark") is not just your stock villain but a credible human who thinks he knows how to survive. Henchard's most unwilling "rival," Donald Farfrae, is played most sympathetically by Jack Galloway. Probably the second most complex character of them all is the "woman with a past," Lucetta Templeman, played by Anna Massey. A really important character, however, is the town of Casterbridge itself and its many inhabitants. But they all exist in a Hardy universe, which is hostile at its best to the innocent and guilty alike. The interest here is how the character of Henchard simply makes things worse. Fascinating watching."
Recommended with reservations.
Russell Fanelli | Longmeadow, MA USA | 08/06/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I remember well reading what is, in my opinion, one of Thomas Hardy's greatest novels, The Mayor of Casterbridge. Viewers who start first with the novel are apt to be a bit disappointed in the transformation to film. What seems to be inevitable in the novel is less so in the movie.Alan Bates, in one of his better roles as the drunken and penniless Michael Henchard, under the influence of too much rum, sells his wife and daughter at auction at a country fair to a sailor. This terrible act seems reasonably well accepted by the people at the fair. Henchard walks on to Casterbride and quickly becomes successful as a corn and hay merchant who is so well respected by the townspeople that they make him mayor.Eighteen years later we are told that the sailor, Newson, dies at sea and his impoverished wife and daughter come to look for Henchard. They find him after weeks of searching. Henchard decides to marry his wife for the second time and make reparations for what he did so many years ago. All this takes place as the story begins and it would appear that Henchard is able to undo some of the wrong he did in a drunken fit. By the way, Henchard no longer drinks and appears to be a responsible, stable person. At this point the screenwriter and director experience some difficulty in establishing effective cause and effect relationships. Henchard's behavior appears to be arbitrary and capricious. The guilt he feels for putting his wife and daughter up for auction and his fear of being discovered by the townspeople for being something less than the honorable mayor work well enough in the novel, but the director has difficulty pulling all the plot strands together in a intellibible and convincing fashion. Accidents and twists of fate are characteristic of the plot devices Hardy uses in his novels, but even though we are made uncomfortable by the role destiny plays in the lives of his characters, we accept them as a cruel twist of fate that sometimes happens to people. The director of this film is somewhat less effective in convincing us of the inevitability of Henchard's fall and the destruction of his life. I was reminded of the film version of Les Miserables. Liam Neeson was the mayor who thought he successfully escaped his past as a thief only to be discovered and forced to go into hiding for the rest of his life. The novel was magnificent; the film was second-rate.The Mayor of Casterbridge is a much better film than Les Miserables, but I think some viewers are going to be a bit confused by the cutting, editing, and direction presented to us. This movie is worth the effort made to put it out as a DVD and I recommend it with the noted reservations."
Excellent Period Drama
SereneNight | California, USA | 10/09/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I really enjoyed the Mayor of Casterbridge. I hadn't read the novel, or watched other movies, but boy was I surprised! What a delight! Alan Bates stars as the 'mayor' a hard-working man with a dark secret! (Once in a drunken rage he 'sold' his wife at auction). Now, the mayor is an upstanding member of the community and receives a heart-wrenching surprise when his estranged wife and daughter show up in town.I think selfishness and the unhappiness that it brings are the themes of this movie. The mayor strives to be a good person, but he battles his possessiveness and need to acquire(wealth, love, and happiness) throughout the course of his film. His daughters, wives, and lovers only seem to want him to LOVE them, but the mayor's obsession and pride prevent him from seeing anything else but his own issues.While I enjoyed "The Mayor of Casterbridge" I was sad by the ending, and felt it had less 'rewatch' value as a result. Still, this is a good film, sure to delight those interested in period drama."