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Tipping the Velvet
Tipping the Velvet
Actors: Keeley Hawes, Bernice Stegers, Rachael Stirling, Anna Chancellor, Jodhi May
Director: Geoffrey Sax
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
UR     2004     2hr 58min

Smitten by music hall life, and by the beautiful male impersonator Kitty Butler (Keeley Hawes), Nan Astley (Rachael Stirling) leaves her family?s Whitstable oyster parlor and follows her heart to London. There she finds un...  more »

     

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Movie Details

Actors: Keeley Hawes, Bernice Stegers, Rachael Stirling, Anna Chancellor, Jodhi May
Director: Geoffrey Sax
Creators: Cinders Forshaw, Gareth Neame, Georgina Lowe, Sally Head, Sally Woodward Gentle, Andrew Davies, Sarah Waters
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Television
Studio: Acorn Media
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 01/27/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 2hr 58min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 23
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

A Novel Glimpse Into Victorian England - A Superb Miniseries
Jana L. Perskie | New York, NY USA | 08/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I loved Sarah Waters's novel, "Tipping the Velvet." Director Geoffrey Sax and screenwriter Andrew Davies have captured beautifully and vividly the novel's characters, storyline and the remarkable setting of a Victorian England that few have glimpsed. I say BRAVO! I am usually skeptical about movies made from books. This one is the exception to the rule.

Nancy Astley, (Rachael Stir), was born and raised in an English seaside resort, Whitstable, where her parents own an oyster restaurant, and Nan can shuck with the best of them. She seems perfectly content with her lot in life, loves her family and imagines that someday she will marry one of the neighborhood boys and have a family of her own. When the Astley family is invited to a perfomance at the town's music-hall, Passion, (with a capital "P"), enters Nan's life for the first time. She sees a beautiful male impersonator perform at the hall. Not just any male impersonator...but the ever so seductive Miss Kitty Butler, (Keeley Hawes). Nan is entranced and obsessed with Kitty. She longs to meet the object of her devotion and becomes first, Kitty's friend, then her employee/dresser. Her once normal life is turned topsy-turvy, filled with passionate fantasies. The Astley family is delighted with Kitty "the celebrity" friend. However, Alice, Nancy's sister, and until recently her best friend, is hostile and suspicious of the relationship between her sister and the performer.

When Kitty is offered a prime London music-hall gig through her manager, Mr. Bliss, she takes Nan with her. The two live together, sharing a room, a bed, love and sex, and eventually the stage, as Nan is successfully incorporated into Kitty's act - as another male impersonator. Our heroine loses her innocence in the big city, in more ways than one. Adventure, disillusionment and major heartbreak loom on the horizon for our Nan - until she finds herself reaching rock bottom. If you don't know what "rock bottom," sometimes called "the pits," is in Victorian England, you may want to reread Dickens.

It takes years for Nancy to climb out of the pit she fell into, (or was she pushed?), and fashion a life for herself. Her attempts to earn a living wage are outrageous, fascinating and ingenious. The folks she meets along the way are absolute originals. The take on London's local color, sexual and socialist politics, and social and sexual mores are delicious.

This is one of the best BBC mini-series that I have seen. The characters are extremely well cast, really three-dimensional. The acting is superb. The lesbian love scenes are extremely erotic and tasteful. But don't shy away from this series, or be drawn to it, because of the lesbian content. This film is much more than a story about women who prefer women. I can't recommend it highly enough. And be sure to read the book too! ENJOY!!
JANA
"
A Sort Of Pride & Prejudice With "Naughty Bits"...
Sheila Chilcote-Collins | Collinswood, Van Wert, OH USA | 07/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

""A Sort Of Pride & Prejudice With "Naughty Bits"..." so says Andrew Davies, the screenwriter of "Tipping The Velvet", whilst adapting Sarah Walter's debut novel as he describes the smashing success of the BBC made for TV series.

"But I didn't want to be her sister, I wanted to be her sweetheart!" so says Nan Astley, played beautifully & naively sweet by Emma Peel/Diana Rigg's real-life daughter, Rachel Stirling, of her first love, an actress of sorts, Kitty Butler, played by Keeley Hawes. Kitty's act is quite an odd one at the turn of the 20th century. Kitty dresses and acts on stage as a boy, even cutting her hair! How shameful in the day and age this novel and series is set in.

"Tipping The Velvet" has been described as a lesbian historical piece but it is MUCH more than that. When you think of the Victorian era you think of stuffiness and of course, an element of great sexual repression but it must be remembered that during this time, women really moved from the passive to agressive; seeking their own ideals, life and pleasures that lie therein. This was the time of suffrage and Victorian women were coming into their own, with increased freedoms of all kinds, power, education and above all, just plain fun!

And since Queen Victoria famously refused to admit lesbians even existed, young women like the Nan, Florence and Kitty's of the Victorian world were safe from being jailed unlike their male counterparts...

Also in the cast is Anna Chancellor ("Duckface" in Four Weddings & A Funeral) as Diana Leatherby, a sadomasochistic & exhibitionistic lover, and Jodhi May (Sister, My Sister & The House Of Mirth) as the kind, sweet and generous Florence.

I am not going to lie. There are some very dicey scenes in this made for TV series that won't be to all people's liking, but if you have an open mind, can look beyond just a person's sexuality and see the truth and good in people, then you will enjoy this film as I did.

Highly Recommended For The Indiscriminate..."
BBC and Victorian England at Their Best!
Dorian M. | Pasadena, CA United States | 02/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"We all know that a great book hardly ever translates well onto screen because no amount of screen time can compete with the magical words of a talented author and the wonders of your own imagination. And having yet to read the book, I was cautious about watching the mini-series first. Book or DVD first? I couldn't stand the suspense so the DVD won out. Right off the bat, and not a moment too soon, I was sucked into the fantabulous life and loves of Nan Astley (Rachel Stirling, daughter of 1960's 'Avengers' series star, Dianna Rigg). This marvelous tale begins on the calm shores of 1890's Victorian England and quickly moves to the theater-world of London. What is revealed, however, is bound to surprise you because no one's quite painted THIS picture of Victorian England--until now! The series is filled with unforgettable characters, unbelievably touching moments (which you'll watch over & over), sumptuous costumes, beautiful leads, great humor, terrific drama, and not a moment of boredom. And A+ on many levels for BBC, including their unabashed support of the subject matter. This is a single-DVD product with the following bonus features: 3 complete episodes (178 minutes, as originally aired on BBC-UK, different from the 'edited' version shown on BBC-America); an interview with author Sarah Waters & screenwriter Andrew Davies (of 'Bridget Jones' Diary'); a slide-show photo gallery; and, a cast list of selected works. Though lengthy for a BBC production and not long enough to satiate the most greedy of us, you'll no doubt watch the nearly 3-hours mini-series in one sitting. Word to the wise: don't pop this in on a week night or you'll face a very tired morning-after at work! It gets 5-stars for its subject matter, acting, costumes, script, music, and it's replay value. Buy this and enjoy. I'm off to finally read the book!**UPDATE!** February 17, 2004---I JUST finished reading the entire book last night and wanted to add info in comparing the book and this mini-series. One word: Bravo! While there certainly are differences in translation from book to screen, with some artistic license taken by Andrew Davies (screenwriter) to bring the movie full-circle towards the end, you will finish off the book with a little regret that it's all over, but gladly revisit it on-screen because the two mediums are happily alike! If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read the book and watch the DVD! I cannot imagine that anyone pleased with the book will be unhappy with this mini-series, because the script stays true to nearly 95% of the entire text. How can you fault that? If you are disappointed with the movie after having read the book, however...then there is no way to completely please a person so demanding! In fact, some of the scenes in the book and movie (such as the dialogue) are so similar that you'll find your eyes racing across the pages of the book, knowing what you'll be reading next--and not being able to read fast enough to get there! What a wonderful combo the book and the movie make. Definitely, HIGHLY recommend this mini-series!! But DO read the book; it's a real pleasure to spend hours on end reading about Nan, Kitty, Diana, and the lot. You will NOT be disappointed with any of it--not one bit!"
Tipping The Velvet-Most excellent video.
J. Pentz | Youngstown, Ohio United States | 06/24/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"After reading the Sarah Waters novel, I was keen on seeing the video production made by The BBC for TV in England. I was unsure of how much censoring would be done. I purchased the video from England, and after changing the region setting on my computer DVD player to region 2, I was treated to one of the classiest mini-series I have ever seen. Much humor, no censoring of the material, and a classy production reminiscent of Moulin Rouge of last year. Sensitive treatment of an otherwise neglected subject. Very classy show tunes and Vaudeville-like stage productions make for absolutely the best lesbian-themed video ever. Kudos to BBC for having the gumption to make this into video. Hats off to Rachael Sterling, Keeley Hawes, and also to Andrew Davies for a wonderful screen adaptation, faithful to the novel. They simply have to release this to the US market!!!
JP"