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Vanity Fair (A&E, 1998)
Vanity Fair
A&E, 1998
Actors: Natasha Little, Frances Grey, David Ross, Philip Glenister, Michele Dotrice
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
NR     2003     5hr 0min

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 »


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Movie Details

Actors: Natasha Little, Frances Grey, David Ross, Philip Glenister, Michele Dotrice
Creators: William Diver, Delia Fine, Michael Wearing, Nigel Taylor, Suzan Harrison
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Love & Romance, Television
Studio: A&E Home Video
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 03/25/2003
Original Release Date: 10/24/1999
Theatrical Release Date: 10/24/1999
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 5hr 0min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
Edition: Box set
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
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Member Movie Reviews

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.

Movie Reviews

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."