Amanda M. from ATLANTA, IL Reviewed on 10/14/2010...
I wasn't sure if I would like this movie, and 3 episodes into it, I was about to turn it off..boring! I kept with it and the plot kept getting stickier and stickier until the last episode it all EXPLODED! It was great. Enjoy.
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A PRAYER ANSWERED
GEORGE RANNIE | DENVER, COLORADO United States | 01/07/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There must really be a god; the commercial release of the BBC production of Anthony Trollope's "The Barchester Chronicles" is answer to this heathen's prayers. I watched this presentation on A&E (having missed the PBS program) in the mid-1980s and managed to make a very poor tape of the program. Since that time I wished intently that The Barchester Chronicles would become commercially available before I die. Now it is on DVD! (and obviously I'm not dead either) This BBC presentation is one of the best things I have ever witnessed either on stage, big screen or small screen. Although the ads to this DVD emphasize that Alan Rickman has a leading role, (he IS wonderful) he is NOT the only superb actor in this film; he is just one of many! Everyone in this presentation gives an outstanding performance. As stated before Alan Rickman is wonderful as the slimy Mr. Slope (really Slop; however, he added the "e"!)-watch how he moves like a snake which the character is!) His sparing partner is Geraldine McEwen. They start off as "chums" but by the end of the story they are bitter enemies. Their "duals" will have you on the floor with laughter. Geraldine is most frightening as the bishop's wife (actually she is the REAL bishop and has all of the power because her husband has no spine and is given to numbing migraine headaches brought on by his wife-the bishop's role is played delightfully by Clive Swift). One of my favorite actors, the late great Nigel Hawthorne plays the "about to explode at all times" Archdeacon who tries to keep things as they are while the Clergyman (Rickman) and the ferocious Bishop's wife (McEwen) are determined to change things to their own benefit. (Proof that Sir Nigel was a great actor is to be had by comparing his performance as the Archdeacon in Barchester with his fabulous performance as Georgie Pillson in "Mapp and Lucia"; you won't think it's the same person that is playing both roles--he was amazing!!)In the midst of all of these goings on is the calming presence and moral fortitude of the clergymen (Warden) as played by Donald Pleasence. I've named just a few of the actors and the characters they play. There is much much more!! There is a host of great actors giving superb performances including Susan Hampshire. Don't be deterred by what could be perceived as a little "slowness" in the first episode; it's just "laying the groundwork" for the "riot" that is to come. Believe me it will be one of the greatest things you have ever seen. The production, camera work direction and most of all the acting is truly awesome! Now, I can truly die happy! The Barchester Chronicles has been finally released commercially and I'm thrilled as you will be if you buy his DVD!
ADDENDUM TO THE ABOVE REVIEW:
The DVD picture and sound quality of The Barchester Chronicles is superb!! Having seen the original presentation, I truly feel that the quality is far superior. It makes me really appreciate today's Technology!
BBC/Trollope's fascinating look at corruption in the Church
randomartco | Greater Washington D.C. area | 02/15/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"BBC & Trollope's fascinating look at corruption in the Church of England
Based on the book by Anthony Trollope, "The Barchester Chronicles," is a fascinating and satirical look at corruption in the Church of England, and the reformers who wish to make changes, and end up getting more than they bargained for.
Reverend Septimus Harding (Donald Pleasence), a decent, gentle and caring man who values music and it's relation to God above all else, is the clergyman in charge of Hiram's Hospital. John Hiram, a rich and influential man, has died decades before, leaving money for the forming and management of a men's hospital, intended for worn out old men to take refuge in the country and live their last days out in peace. Appointed by Bishop Grantly (Cyril Luckham) to his post almost 12 years ago, Rev. Harding is suddenly attacked in a lawsuit by reformers who claim that corruption and nepotism have invaded into the town of Barchester. They begin calling for reform and although the lawsuit is defeated at the end, Rev. Harding ends by honorably resigning from Hiram's Hospital, to live poorly and struggle on as a clergyman in Barchester.
Not too long after, a change in government calls for a change in church leadership: when a new prime minister is named just as Bishop Grantly passes away, Dr. Grantly (who had hoped to become the next bishop) is passed over for a new appointment: Bishop Proudie. Enter Alan Rickman (in an early role pulled off with resounding success), playing the fantastically flirtatious and social-climbing devious chaplin, Reverend Obadiah Slope. Slope is chaplin to shy, quiet, stammering Bishop Proudie, who is controlled by his wife, Mrs. Proudie (Geraldine McEwan), in nearly everything he does. A few other characters thrown into the mix, including the beautiful and crippled Signora Madeline Neroni (Susan Hampshire) and her rakish brother, combine to create a mesmerizing tale of love and the thirst for power.
As Slope and Mrs. Proudie (who began as "great friends) priggishly fight on for control over Bishop Proudie and his actions, ambition takes on a new meaning. A church appointment is made by one, and contradicted by the other: another appointment is made and overturned by the other: it creates a delightful almost-comedy of errors in which you chuckle at the power struggle and feel sorry for the innocent people affected so deeply by it.
Content: There is no language to speak of, and very little "violence" (if you can even call it that): a woman slaps a man (with good reason). Many discussions take place about corruption and nepotism in the Church of England, and the need for reform: nothing untoward is mentioned, other than that men are appointed and paid for doing very little work: nothing to do with Christianity, the reform is do with the church, its appointments, and its care of the people of Britain. Other content: a man flirts outrageously with many women, and a woman flirts with many men.
On the whole, a very unobjectionable film that entertains and delights on one hand, even as you can't help but be saddened and appalled at the actions of some on the other hand. What amazes me most about the power-hungry actions of some characters is that all this takes place in the relatively small town of Barchester. Overall, this 1982 TV mini-series by BBC gives a fascinating in-depth look at the clergy and church reform, as it so realistically just might have been. "
Who cut The Barchester Chronicles - and why?
Joanna Mountford | Cascade, (n/a) Trinidad and Tobago | 04/27/2005
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I jumped for joy when I found "The Barchester Chronicles" had been released on DVD. I had made a rather poor tape of the series when it was shown on Trinidad and Tobago Television in 1986, or thereabouts, and was looking forward to seeing a first quality recording of what one TV critic in the UK rated the best televised drama to date.
The quality of sound and vision did not disappoint but I was devastated when I opened the 2-disc album to find that the original 8-part series has been cut, part four being completely excised. I was so gob-smacked I got out my ageing tape to make sure I was not mistaken. I wasn't. Naturally, after 18 years in the tropics the quality was, to say the least, trying, but it is still good enough to see (but not, unfortunately, to hear) Part Four.
Why has this series been mutilated? For North American fans of BBC drama in general and the Barchester Chronicles in particular, in Part Four Mr Slope (Alan Rickman) goes to Puddingdale to offer Mr Quiverfull, on behalf of Mrs Proudie, if not the Bishop, the Wardenship of Hiram's Hospital. There are some rich, comic scenes as he tolerates the Quiverfull's boisterous, children.
Moreover, the missing Part Four makes sense of the beginning of Part Five when Mr Slope makes sure Mrs Proudie has left the Palace before persuading the Bishop, who, in Part Four, had already agreed to the appointment of Mr Quiverfull, to change his mind and offer the Hospital to Mr Harding instead.
Whoever butchered this superb series deserves to be hung, drawn and quartered!"
An Thoroughly Delicious British Comedy-Drama!
Tiggah | Calgary, Alberta Canada | 03/02/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Based on The Warden and Barchester Towers, the first two of Anthony Trollope's six "Barsetshire" novels, The Barchester Chronicles is an intelligent, witty, and deliciously humorous 1982 dramatisation set in 1850s' England in the fictional town of Barchester. The series focuses on corruption within the church and the battle between conservatism and modernism which threatened to tear it apart. An interest in church politics of the time is not necessary, however, for this is as much a story about the individuals involved as it is about the church. The series, which is faithful to the original novels, consists of seven 50-minute episodes and features an all-star British cast. DVD extras: Text-based bios and (oddly) a 30-minute profile of Peterborough Cathedral.
Donald Pleasence stars as gentle, non-confrontational, soft-spoken, kind-hearted Mr. Harding, the caring Warden of a small hospital within the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Barchester. With few responsibilities and a wopping annual income of 800 pounds, it's a plum position. Sadly for him, however, misappropriation of church funds (of which this is a prime example) is a bone that the sensation-seeking Jupiter newspaper has decided to chew on; and they have chosen Mr. Harding as their target.
Being a good, decent man, it appals Mr. Harding that anyone should think him guilty of acting immorally or unethically. Whilst the unassuming Mr. Harding would be content to just fade into the woodwork, he is blessed (or should I say "cursed") with a very intelligent and shrewd but hot-headed and domineering son-in-law, Dr. Grantley (played to absolute perfection by Nigel Hawthorne--Yes (Prime) Minister's Sir Humphrey), who just happens to be Archdeacon and the son of the old Bishop, and who enjoys nothing more than a good battle.
Barchester Towers (arguably Trollope's most famous and best-loved novel) commences with the third episode, and it is with this episode that the fun really starts. In a nutshell, the series from here on deals with the clash between the conservative arm of the church (represented in part by Mr. Harding, Dr. Grantley, and the now-deceased old Bishop) and the oppressive new modern movement, which finds its followers in the newly-appointed Bishop and his clan. The new Bishop, Dr. Proudie (Clive Swift--Keeping Up Appearances' Richard Bucket!), is a soft-spoken, indecisive, submissive, hen-pecked man void of anything resembling a back-bone. His domineering battle-axe of a wife, Mrs. Proudie (Geraldine McEwan--Mapp & Lucia, Mulberry), is the real power behind the throne. Her obsequious creature is their chaplain, the odious, self-serving and highly ambitious Mr. Slope (splendidly portrayed by Alan Rickman), who positively oozes insincerity and haughtiness.
Like most toadies, Slope is only subservient if it's to his advantage, and it's not long before he sets himself upon a course that is destined to alienate Mrs. Proudie. Upon discovering that Mr. Harding's widowed daughter, Eleanor, is wealthy, Slope becomes determined to win her admiration and thereby her hand. But his ambition is not enough to prevent this loathesome womanizer from professing his love and devotion to the beautiful (albeit highly intelligent, insightful, and very forthright!) Senora Neroni (Susan Hampshire--The Pallisers, The First Churchills, The Forsyte Saga). As Mrs. Proudie does not approve of the attention Slope pays to either women, a battle for dominance between the two power-hungry erstwhile allies is inevitable.
In conclusion, this is a thoroughly enjoyable comedy-drama which I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys intelligent, witty, insightful, clean, impeccably-acted British comedies or period productions. I've seen it three times now, and as with all quality British productions, it is a show that only gets better with each viewing! "
Series has NOT been cut!
Melek Paoti | 12/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After reading one customer's complaint that crucial parts of the series were missing from this DVD set, I first rented it from my local video store to watch. I can assure everyone interested in this excellent series that the allegedly missing scenes are DEFINITELY included! Part 4 is very much there! And in general, not once during the progression of the story did I have the impression that important information had been left out. Based on the high "helpful"-reading of said review, a lot of people may have decided not to buy this DVD set, and that's too bad. I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful series. I just got my own copy, and I know I won't regret it!"