"This film version of A Tale of Two Cities is a masterpiece -- it faithful adapts Dickens' classic novel while holding out as a worthwhile movie in its own right through incredible performances from its lead actors. The plot of the novel has not been touched -- in filming Dickens' most tightly-plotted novel, a good decision. The acting is uncommonly good. Sydney Carton is fabulously done; James Wilby is to be commended for a wonderful and nuanced performance. I also found Madame Defarge particularly well-done; the actress playing her is SCARY! Considering Mme. Defarge's character in the book, I think her almost insane bitterness and sharp purpose is well-portrayed.
A couple of unique things about this film include its use of French actors to play French characters and British actors to play British characters. No contrived accents, and people actually look their nationality -- both important in such a highly political story. I also strongly support the decision to have Carton and Darnay played by different people; yes, they're supposed to look alike, but not identical. And having different actors play them facilitates the portrayal of their very contrasted characters.
I am admittedly coming from the perspective of one who read and loved the book years before seeing the movie; I can't judge what this film would be like to someone who has never read the novel. But I found it an accurate and sensitive adaptation of the book I know and love, and I imagine that the beauty of the story would appeal just as easily to someone experiencing the story for the first time."
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."
Z. Yang | Hockessin, DE USA | 03/05/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Never have the noble humanities and horrible dehumanization been revealed to such extremes as in Dickens' "A Tale Of Two Cities". Just exactly to what extreme the human hatred could go, just exactly to what extreme the human love could go, and just exactly to what extreme the human sacrifice could go, you will get answers from this novel. It tells ineffably touching stories of love and sacrifice, striking stories of hatred and revenge, in the turmoil of French Revolution. This was the time that hunger would drive poor people to sip the wine spilled on the street stones, this was the time that an innocent man (Dr. Manette, Lucie's father) was imprisoned in the Bastille for eighteen years not for any crimes but for saving people's lives, this was the time that conscience made a noble person (Charles Darnay) to relinquish his aristocratic title and pursue life of simplicity and dignity, this was the time that a gentleman (Charles Darnay) would take the risk his own life to save the life of his servant, and this was the time that a young man (Sydney Carton) would take another man's place on the guillotine and realize his promise to his beloved (Lucie), to whom he treasured as "the last dream of my soul"...... This Masterpiece Theatre miniseries did a fairly good job in crafting the stories, although less successfully in bringing out the grandeur of the Revolution. But thanks to the wonderful actors and actresses, their brilliant acting has, to some extent, made up the weaknesses. Sydney Carton is a fascinating character. Young actor James Wilby has excellently sustained Carton's emotional complexities: his cynicism, his indifference, his impulsive yearning for life, and his devoted love to Lucie. Carton, who is Darnay's lookalike and bears the same great affection towards Lucie, is, however, Darnay's inner alter ego. In contrast with Darnay's ideal, Carton is real, and, when fleshed out by James Wilby with immense delicacies, this is the character that couldn't be more captivating. Most of the other characters are also well rendered, with maybe a weak line with Madame Defarge, whose hatred and thirsty for revenge is somewhat stiffly and superficially depicted.
"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known", the drama ended with Carton walking towards the axe, while Lucie, Darnay, and their daughter riding towards their safe home. This is a most heroic and epic moment, a moment of glory in the midst of grief, and a moment of eternity in the midst of extermination."
Z. Yang | 03/23/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First let me say that i haven't read the book,so I don't know if this adaptation is acurate to the Dickens's classic book;I won't go into that.Let me just say that i found this miniseries wonderful.It does have great acting,( handosme James Wilby as Sydney Carton-he's in Altman's Gosford Park;the Oscar-winning John Mills as Jarvis Lorry;Jean-Pierre Aumont as Dr. Manette,and on..),the costumes,the beautiful music score.The ending left me in tears.
I disagree with some reviewers that are saying that this movie is boring.It is not,but if you don't have enough patience and/or only watch action flicks,you won't like this."
Z. Yang | 10/04/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a Masterpiece Theatre adaptation of Dicken's famous work. The casting is superb and Sidney Carton is particularly well-played...Well, spectacular actually. Jerry Cruncher, Madame Dufarge, Miss Pross and Mr. Lowry all come wonderfully to life in this five hanky tear jerker that will have you cheering in the end. An excellent screen version of an already wonderful story."
Worth watching. Worth owning.
H. Geschichtemann | Florida, USA | 06/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Within my admittedly limited experience, Masterpiece Theater dramatizations of great books are well produced and faithful to the original. This is no exception.
Well, Dickens's famous opening lines, "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times," etc. do not come at the beginning of the production but are inserted into a monologue by Sydney Carton shortly after the start of the second DVD. Otherwise, the plot, details, and characters seem much the same as I remember from when I last read the book several years ago.
My wife and I bought this set to help a young friend who is close to graduating from high school at a public school and therefore has problems with reading comprehension. We are well satisfied that she can watch this, then read, and perhaps profit in several ways.
Anyone looking for dazzling FX and computer-generated panoramics will be disappointed. This was made on a budget for television in 1989.
Otherwise, it is a capable -- sometimes very good -- and certainly a moving production. I think Dickens would have approved."