In a culture obsessed with status becky sharp - beautiful clever adn poor - is determined to earn her place in society. Her childhood friend amelia sedley enjoys the privileges becky lacks little realizing how fickle these... more » blessings can be. Studio: A&e Home Video Release Date: 03/25/2003 Run time: 300 minutes Rating: Nr« less
Judy E. (Judella) from SAINT PAUL, AR Reviewed on 11/12/2016...
I loved the movie. The acting was very well done.
Ann H. (AnnieH) from PORT HURON, MI Reviewed on 8/9/2012...
Excellent acting and production values; if you enjoy historical mini-series based on literary classics you should like this.
Fran H. from COXSACKIE, NY Reviewed on 11/1/2011...
This production of Vanity Fair is true to Thackeray's classic while having a distinctly contemporary edge. Becky Sharp, born poor, but determined to be rich is contrasted with her friend, Amelia Smedley, who is born rich but without awareness of the fickleness of wealth. From posh London ballrooms to beautiful country estates to the battle at Waterloo, there is plenty of visual stimulation as the characters vie for fame and love.
2 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Excellent adaptation of Thackeray masterpiece
Michael K. Halloran | 01/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Thackeray's "Vanity Fair" is such a sprawling, grand example of the Victorian novel that any mere two-hour movie adaptation will be forced to leave out crucial elements. As it is, this six-hour BBC film version emits certain items (Jos Sedley's ultimate fate, the James Crawley episode), but is remarkably faithful to its source. Indeed, a television mini-series is the best way to adapt such a work, allowing the story to unfold and the viewer to become involved with the various characters.This production is fantastic, with beautiful costumes, excellent performances, and a fine script. Chief among its attractions is Natasha Little in the key role of Becky Sharp. Miss Little is not only luminously beautiful, but manages to arouse our sympathies toward a virtually unsympathetic character. Special mention must also go to Jeremy Swift, whose portrayal of bumbling Jos Sedley is a delight. Miriam Margolyes (always wonderful) and Eleanor Bron appear in secondary roles. The rest of the cast is well-chosen and all play their parts with conviction.The greatest hurdle a filmed version of "Vanity Fair" faces is how to convey the many shifts of tone which Thackeray goes through in the novel. This problem has been solved by use of an unusual score, which draws from such diverse sources as military marching bands, Strauss waltzes (wrong for the period but who cares?), and a bit of Kurt Weill. Murray Gold's score never lets us forget that we are in the world of Thackeray's biting satire, and not Jane Austen's more delicate world of comedy-of-manners.All told, it will take a long time before this film treatment is bettered."
A fantastic adaption--watch one episode and you're hooked!
Michael K. Halloran | 10/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It would be hard for a movie to do justice to Thackeray's wonderful novel VANITY FAIR, but it is clear that this awesome 5 hour version is every bit as good. I bought the whole set of tapes as soon as I heard they were coming out, and love them. Every time I watch them, I get so involved in the characters that I can't wait to watch the next episode. I always laugh at the broad, witty comedy that brings the film to life, and at other times I have to cry, for example the beautiful scene when Dobbin finally admits to Amelia that he is in love with her, or when Amelia has to send her son to go live with his grandfather because she is too poor to take care of him...The film is excellently done, with lavish sets and costumes. I find all of the actors to be wonderful, Natasha Little in particular plays the tricky role of Becky to the hilt, so that we are simultaneously rooting for her and wishing she'll get what's coming to her. Little finds the right mixture of sympathy and wickedness to capture Becky. Also, Miriam Margolyes is absolutely hysterical as the outspoken Miss Crawley, constantly laughing, eating, gossipping, flirting, moaning about her aches and pains, talking with her mouth full, and stabbing her friends in the back--she's like Becky, minus the table manners. Many peole have complained about the musical score, but I think it was incredible. The use of mainly brass instruments is superb, and the horns blare with an evil charm just at the right moments. They are just the right touch, adding to the movie's boldness. The only thing that upset me was that in almost every shot, the heads of the main characters are always cut off--it's so annoying! Luckily, the movie is so interesting that often we forget about it, but once you start noticing all the badly framed shots it becomes obsessive! Also, the cinematography is grainy at times, especially in the darker scenes. And I felt that the momentous confrontation between Becky, Rawdon, and Lord Steyne could have been better executed...but oh, well. The rest is too good to complain about. The film is charming, wicked, and very intelligent while still containing its dark moments such as Mr. Osborne insanely destroying every rememberance of his son, or a later scene when Osborne stares in desperation at his grandson with a mixture of sadness, loathing, and grief for his own dead son--it's just indescribable. Obviously, it's difficult to watch the film unless you buy the whole set of tapes or borrow them from someone, but if you are interested in seeing it, it is well worth the money spent on the whole set of tapes."
Very Enjoyable Production of a Literary Classic
Mskitty | East Coast U.S.A. | 12/28/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have read "Vanity Fair" twice and intend to re-read this coming year. I remember seeing a BBC version with Susan Hampshire in the role of Becky Sharp back in the 1970s, as well as the 1930s Hollywood version with Mariam Hopkins on late-night television when I was a teenager. Now I understand that there is to be another Hollywood version, with Reese Witherspoon, of all the odd choices, to play Becky. Natasha Little is, in my opinion, an outstanding Becky Sharp, surpassing both Hampshire and Hopkins in the role. I cannot feature the vastly overrated Ms Witherspoon being able to give as subtle and natural a performance as Ms Little does in this A&E production. Ms Little is at once appealing and a monster, a woman "on the make"; in one very funny, and creepy, bit she is forced to turn down a marriage proposal from the coarse Sir Pitt Crawley, because she is already married to his dashing son. When Pitt Crawley leaves the room, it becomes clear that Becky would have married the vulgar old man for the security he offered had she been free.
The rest of the cast was very good, particularly the actors portraying Amelia, George, Rawdon, and Dobbin. There has been some criticism of the appearance of the actors, that they were too plain or even downright unattractive for the roles. One of the differences between British and American productions (particularly those made for televsion) is that in British productions the performers are more often selected for their talent than their appearance. Sometimes this backfires, as in the case of the remake of "The Forsyte Saga," when many viewers complained about Geena McKee being too plain for the role of Irene Forsyte, who was supposed to be a great beauty. In the case of "Vanity Fair" I feel that the actors were just right for their roles in every way, including appearance. Becky's attraction was her spirit as much as her face, and Amelia's sweetness was the inspiration for the love and admiration she received from men.My one criticism of the film was the loud background music. It was supposed to suggest a carnival or fair, but it was so blasted loud that at times it drowned out the performers. Although this was not as constant as one reviewer indicated, it did happen often enough to be annoying. If you like Thackeray, I think you will be pleased with this version of his masterpiece."
Gritty, highly original and compelling adaptation
MartinP | Nijmegen, The Netherlands | 10/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Most of us period drama aficionados have been brought up on a fairly one-sided menu of Austen, and as a consequence some will be shocked by "Vanity Fair", which is a whole different ball-game. Austen may deal out the occasional pin-prick, but her social comedy remains well-mannered and has a basic sweetness. Thackeray provides a far more brutal kind of satire; "Vanity Fair", though nearly 200 years old, is a startlingly modern novel still. Rarely can a reader have been so hard put to find a single sympathetic character in a book. George Osborne is a heartless, vain opportunist; Jos Sedley a ridiculous coward; Amelia Sedley an insipid dreamer forever betting on the wrong horse; Dobbin on the other hand is just too good to be true and infuriatingly servile - et cetera. Only amidst such a cast are we tempted to feel a modicum of sympathy for viciously predatory Becky Sharp, who by modern standards would no doubt qualify as a psychopath. The tables only turn on her when she meets her equal in the vile lord Stayne (what's in a name), who warns her: "Don't overplay your hand, Mrs. Crawley - you're in very deep now...". She does overplay her hand, and her astonishing social climb is mercilessly reversed. It's all very Darwinian avant-la-lettre: survival of the fittest. Andrew Davies perfectly caught on to this in his gritty, highly original adaptation of Vanity Fair for TV. Apart from Becky Sharp (Natasha Little) the cast includes no pleasant beauties of either sex to please the eye. Murkiness and squalor are not eschewed and find their peak at Queen's Crawley, where maggots indeed crawl on Lady Crawley's dinner plate, and Sir Pitt senior devours his tripe with relish. Though not all viewers may be pleased, the fact is that the conditions shown in this series are far more realistic depictions of actual living conditions in late 18th and early 19th century England than the glossed-over prettiness presented in most Austen-films. And still many of the actors have much better teeth than they would have had in those days... The acting is quite excellent throughout, and the intensity of it is heightened by frequent use of close-ups. At other times camera movements are deliberately unsteady, lending a documentary feel to Amelia's visit of George's grave, and making the viewer share in the drunkenness when Osborne senior waxes sentimental over young George at his dinner table. In dialog, the camera may well very slowly pan across the room, taking in all the little trinkets and ornaments it meets underway before finally arriving at the face of the other character. Instead of the perfectly choreographed quadrilles of Pride and Prejudice, you may find a dance at a ball depicted by a mere quick succession of close-ups of feet and whirling skirts. It is all rather unconventional and extremely effective. So is the music - the score is dominated by several deliciously raucous wind-band themes that tell us we are, indeed, in a fairground. The DVD comes without any extra's. I'm unsure to judge the picture quality, as I am playing the disc to a PAL TV and don't know if this causes distortions. Still it looked more than acceptable, except that pale faces tended to go slightly blue in outdoor scenes, and that dark images looked a bit as if filmed through a slightly sooty lens, and sometimes had unsteady backgrounds. Though in the final reckoning this series may not quite aspire to the perfection of the latest BBC Pride & Prejudice, it is at least as worthwhile and involving to watch, and makes a very refreshing change from the usual period drama routines. "
Not precisely the Thackery novel....OK so what?
J. C Clark | Overland Park, KS United States | 08/07/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Lots of different opinions here, lots of love and a some surprising hate. I can only speak for myself and my wife, but we found this DVD riveting. One of the most absorbing BBC productions we've seen. Andrew Davies here seems to be criticized for straying too far from the text, and in other adaptations of not straying far enough. Well, all I can say is that this tale, and this filming, were perfect. Enjoyed the music, which was beautifully composed and appropriately harsh for a very harsh tale, admired the direction, found the characters compelling and believable, and loved the subtle and deft touches throughout in which character was revealed oh so skillfully. An though the acting was impeccable, three actors deserve special accolades. Tim Woodward, a face I had not seen before, is gripping as John Osborne, the conflicted and tormented father who loves and desires and hopes and fears and bullies. Nathaniel Parker, recently seen in Bleak House as a dim-witted and selfish fool, is exquisite, showing us with eyes and mouth the pains, the torments, and the heartbreak of a man who suddenly realizes he has been sucker-punched. The good-hearted, naive, and silly Joseph Sedley, a character it would be all-too-easy to laugh at, is portrayed without malice by a charming Jeremy Swift. Other wonders abound, from the smallest characters up to Becky herself, the toxic blend of a beauty we want to trust and an evil that is all too painfully exposed.
We bought in completely. Compared to the Witherspoon version, far more gorgeous and spectacular, but ultimately lame and vapid, this is astounding. A delight from start to finish. If a novel is filmed, and the result is nearly perfect, even if the original plot was abused, I do not care. Think of David Lean's Great Expectations, related to, but freely adapted from, a sprawling masterpiece, and an absolutely riveting piece of cinema. That was a great film from a glorious book. If the film substantially alters the novel's themes, or pretties up the author's vision, well, that is unpardonable. But no such transformation happens here. To compress 800 pages and a multitude of characters even into 6 hours, well concessions must be made. I cannot help but believe that Thackery would be quite pleased with these choices."