Awesome Adaptations: An Awesome Mini-Series Adaptation
Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.
Each week I will be writing about an adaptation of a book that I think is worth seeing and I have challenged myself to come up with suggestions to match a category. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along, just mention this blog in your post. Let us know what adaptation you’d pick and why it is worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!
If you don’t have a blog yet though you can still play along, just leave your answer in the comments thread for each week’s challenge.
This week’s challenge is to name: An Awesome Mini-Series Adaptation
Title: Wives and Daughters (1999)
Adapted From: Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
As most of you know I am a fan of period drama adaptations, Gaskell was a writer I was never familiar with until I saw the marvelous adaptation of North and South with Richard Armitage in 2004. It made me curious to watch more adaptations of this author’s novels and so I watched ‘Wive and Daughters’ for this first time.
Firstly the cast is excellent. Justine Waddell makes Molly Gibson innocent, vulnerable and strong-willed all at once. You really root for her to get the man she loves. Francesca Annis makes the stepmother Hyacinth delightfully loathsome and vain. Keeley Hawes is wonderful as the nuanced Cynthia who is vain and spoiled, making poor decisions but you find her strangely likable nonetheless. Tom Hollander is wonderful as the Byronic Osborne and his relationship with his father Squire Hamley, played by the marvelous Michael Gambon, is sad, nuanced and ultimately touching. I could go on and on about this cast as every person does a marvelous job with the role they are given.
The story is wonderful as well, really talking about the relationships between mothers and daughters, fathers and sons. It also features a wonderful romance, that you cheer for and that scene at the end in the rain is just so lovely I could watch it over and over again. If you are a fan of period dramas, then this is definitely the Awesome Adaptation for you!
Title: Our Mutual Friend (1998)
Adapted From: Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
So this week I get to write about what is, quite possibly, my favorite adaptation of all time.
The story itself is too complicated to relate in great detail here other than to say it concerns a young man, lost at sea, who was to have inherited his father’s fortune on the condition that he marry a woman he has never met. All of the other plot strands and character relationships center on that incident as each of the characters’ fortunes are changed while the remainder of the novel is filled with some exquisite satire of society’s attitudes to wealth, some villainous scheming, two compelling romances and a cracking mystery that provides one of the most memorable twists in literature.
It is, in my opinion, Dickens’ greatest novel in large part because of its dark tone and perfectly observed characters. Happily this BBC adaptation does the story justice, not only staying true to the original material but managing to making it incredibly dramatic, extracting the most from each of the story’s many twists and turns.
It also features one of the strongest casts I’ve ever seen in a period drama in terms of how perfectly each of the actors matches their character. Paul McGann is simply wonderful as the perpetually bored, lazy and idle lawyer Eugene Wrayburn while David Morrissey (currently appearing as the Governor in AMC’s The Walking Dead) is a force of nature as his romantic rival, the school teacher Bradley Headstone. Peter Vaughan and Pam Ferris are delightful as the Boffins, the couple who inherits the Harmon fortune, while Stephen Mackintosh’s portrayal of John Rokesmith is suitably ambiguous, only adding to the story’s sense of mystery. Oh, and then there’s David Bradley, Anna Friel, Keeley Hawes, Kenneth Cranham, Timothy Spall… I could go on for hours!
For all these reasons, and so many more, I do heartily recommend this adaptation. It looks gorgeous, boasts what I consider to be Dickens’ best plot and manages to perfectly capture the tone and themes of the novel.
So those are our choices, how about yours? Link to your blog post in the comments below and let us know what you’d pick.
Next week we’ll pick an An Awesome Dickensian Adaptation. Check out the schedule for the rest of the year here.