Daniel Deronda is a sensitive, intelligent young man, the illegitimate son of an aristocrat, haunted by the secrets that shroud his birth. Beautiful, vivacious Gwendolen Harleth is a gambler and short on cash. When they me... more »et at the roulette table, sparks fly. But Gwendolen needs money more than passion, and the self-centered aristocrat Henleigh Grandcourt is happy to provide. As her situation becomes more and more oppressive, she turns to Daniel for help, only to discover his involvement with the young Jewish singer Mirah Lapidoth.Torn between his devotion to Gwendolen and his passion for Mirah and the plight of her people, Daniel is forced to look at his own mysterious past and find out who he really is...and who he wants to be.« less
"Having a familiarity with the field of psychology, I have always found morality plays fascinating. If you delight in thought-provoking films with careful layers of morality and virtue, Daniel Deronda will be just your cup of tea. In addition to being a magnificent piece from a purely artistic perspective (the gowns, horse-drawn carriages, and exquisite English countryside will stir the hearts of even the most ardent modernist), it also offers a magnitude of ideal conversation starters.The miniseries is based on the classic novel by George Eliot, and is essentially two plots woven into one. The first is an utterly heartless and wretched marriage for a spoiled young Gwendolyn in the form of the evil Grandcourt, a landowner whose sole pleasure lies in torment. Be it his wife or dogs, our heartless villain never takes greater pleasure than in dangling something before them and tearing it away again, only to feed it to someone else. We see a kind of barbarism in this act, be it with the family spaniel or his impoverished, abandoned mistress.The second plot line is about the film's lead, Daniel Deronda, a presumed illigitimate boy who has been raised a country gentleman. One day while out boating he saves a Jewish singer from drowning herself, and sets out to discover his own true identity through finding her family. The acting is very stellar. There's not a weak link in the cast, although I have to say seeing Barbara Hershey seemed a little out of place in this Victorian paradox. The film makes numerous contrasts between good and evil, selfishness and humility, lies and deception. It's actually quite an achievement, and I was pleased at the amount of restraint showed by the filmmakers. The sexual tension between man and wife will go over most younger viewer's heads. From rationalizing and defending one's wrong choices to showing the difference between attraction and subtle, strong love, Daniel Deronda is a gem not merely for its beauty but also its hideousness. Filmmakers have done a tasteful film which deals with many heavy subjects without becoming vulgar or crass. The costuming is absolutely gorgeous, and there's not a weak link in the cast, which includes screen knowns such as Barbara Hershey and Gretta Sacci, as well as the exceptionally talented Hugh Dancy, Romola Garai, Hugh Bonneville and Jodhi May. Fans of other period films will recognize actors from Pride & Prejudice, Persuasion, and Emma.It's rare to find a wonderful Victorian bodice ripper where the bodice actually stays on. "
A great mini-series based on a great book!
Kate C. | Lansing, MI USA | 12/22/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"i am not a huge fan or British Literature, for that matter i have a particular dislike for VICTORIAN British Lit. i had to read DANIEL DERONDA for a class many moons ago and loved, loved, loved the book (which i highly recommend to anyone-- it's 800 pages, a bit of a commitment, but well worth it). the movie version of George Eliot's last novel is one of the fairest productions which is based on a book i have ever seen; the characters are presented as brilliantly here as they are in the book (with the small exception of Jodhi May as Mirah-- she was far too old to play her!). The sections of the novel which seem long-winded are presented fluently and gracefully, and the iterations which are wonderful to read are an even bigger joy to watch. Hugh Dancy as the title character does not overplay Deronda's inward contemplation nor does he downplay the spurts of emotion. Romala Garai as the beautiful Gwendolen Harleth-Grandcourt portrays her complex and difficult with ease and candor; a true triumph!I would definately recommend this movie to anyone whose got a rainy afternoon to spare and fans of BBC productions to boot! You will not be disappointed!"
A Man's Search For Meaning & A Spiritual Center - A Superb P
Jana L. Perskie | New York, NY USA | 07/12/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Masterpiece Theater's brilliant production of George Eliot's "Daniel Deronda," was adapted by Andrew Davies from George Eliot's last and, perhaps, most ambitious novel. (although certainly not her best). Essentially, both the novel and the film are composed of two separate stories, linked by protagonist, Daniel Deronda, (Hugh Dancy).
Set in England in the 1870's, the viewer is given a glimpse into the lives of British Jews, a society-within-a-society, though Daniel Deronda. Interestingly enough, most of Miss Eliot's contemporaries were oblivious to the Jews, who lived totally outside their frame of reference. Through her heroine, Gwendolyn Harleth, (Romola Garai), who marries for money and power rather than love, Eliot and the film explore a side of human relations that leads only to despair.
Daniel sees Gwendolyn, for the first time, at a roulette table. He is fascinated by her classical, blonde English beauty, and vivacious, self-assured manner. When Miss Harleth is forced to sell her necklace to pay gambling debts, Deronda, a disapproving observer, buys back the jewelry, anonymously, and returns it to her. This is not the last time the deeply spiritual and altruistic Deronda will feel a need to rescue Gwendolyn.
Daniel was adopted as a young boy by Sir Hugo, (Edward Fox), an English gentleman. He has received affection, a good education, and to some extent, position, from his guardian. However, Deronda has never been told the story of his true parentage, and sorely feels this lack of roots and his own identity. Not content to play the gentleman, he always appears to be searching for a purpose in life, and a spiritual center.
Daniel's and Gwendolyn's lives intersect throughout the novel. They feel a strong mutual attraction initially, but Gwendolyn, with incredible passivity, decides to marry someone she knows is a scoundrel, for his wealth. The decision will haunt her as her life becomes a nightmare with the sadistic Henleigh Grandcourt, (Hugh Bonneville), her husband.
At about the same time, Daniel inadvertently saves a young woman from suicide. He finds young Mirah Lapidoth, (Johdi May), near drowning, by the river and takes her to a friend's home to recover. There she is made welcome and asked to stay. She is a Jewess, abducted from her mother years before, by her father, who wanted to use the child's talent as a singer to earn money. When young Mirah forced her voice beyond its limits, and lost her ability to sing, her father abandoned her. She has never been able to reunite with her mother and brother, and was alone and destitute, until Daniel found her. Daniel, in his search for Mirah's family, meets the Cohens, a Jewish shop owner and his kin. Deronda feels an immediate affinity with them and visits often. He also comes to know a Jewish philosopher and Zionist, Mordecai, (Daniel Evans), and they forge a strong bond of friendship.
Daniel finally does discover his identity, and has a very poignant and strange meeting with his mother. He had been earnestly taking steps to make a meaningful existence for himself, and with the new information about his parents and heritage, he is able to act on his dreams.
One of the novel's most moving scenes is when Daniel and Gwendolyn meet for the last time. Gwendolyn has grown from a self-centered young woman to a mature, thoughtful adult, who has suffered and grown strong.
This is an extraordinary period piece, directed with wit and subtlety by Tom Hooper. The cast is outstanding as are their performances. Lush costumes and beautiful scenery add richness to the film. However, like the novel, the movie is lacking. It is too metaphysical, too metaphorical, too much a morality play. There's not enough verve and vigor!! Although Hugh Bonneville's Grandcourt, does make a fabulous scoundrel.
I did thoroughly enjoy this BBC production, flaws and all. It is wonderful entertainment and artfully done. JANA"
Beautiful and excellent
Robert Pratte | charleston, il USA | 12/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is yet another well-crafted film adaptation of a nineteenth century British novel by the BBC. There are some dynamite actors here, including the increasingly popular Jodhi May (Tipping the Velvet,Turn of the Screw, House of Mirth, Mayor of Casterbridge), Hugh Dancy (King Arthur, Madame Bovary), and exquisite Romola Garai (Nicholas Nickleby, Vanity Fair). The costumes and landscapes are beautiful and the actors gorgeous, the story compelling and captivating, and the fit and finish is superb.
Perhaps Hugh Bonneville's depiction of the cold, abusive Henleigh Grandcourt left him more palatable than others may have interpreted him, and some scenes could have been drawn out more - despite the 3 1/2 hour length for the 3 parts - but these are minor quibbles. Overall, this is a gem."
Fans of the book rejoice
Karusichan | Lansing, MI. USA. | 10/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I read Daniel Deronda recently and decided to watch the film to acquaint myself with some of the fuzzier details. I was impressed by the BBC version of George Eliot's book from the word go. Well casted and beautifully filmed this is a lush story of Daniel Deronda, Gwendolen Harleth, and all of the other players in George Eliot's novel of subtle prejudice and self discovery.
I found that the film did in fact crystalize all of the details from the book that I had somehow missed, and for me this was one of those rare cases where I found myself enjoying the film much greater than I had the book. The pacing is different and one or two events are rearranged to heighten the story telling, but I do not believe this hinders the original story. I found myself completely taken in by this superb adaptation and I believe that any of Eliot's admirers, or any period movie fan for that matter, would revel in this wonderful retelling of a classic."