Middlemarch (TV Mini-Series 1994) Poster


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Does justice to the novel- highly recommended.
Lee-10716 May 1999
'Middlemarch' is one of my favourite novels and the serialization is one of the best that I have seen. All the actors enliven the saga of this, George Eliot's masterpiece with an impressive panache. Juliet Aubrey as Dorothea, the heroine, needs a little bit of getting used to, but she portrays the character convincingly. Rufus Sewell was made for this role He exudes all the charm, the enigma and the romance in Will's personality beautifully..so much so that you really feel for him and his love for Dorothea as you feel for them in the novel. The only thing I'd like to say as a mild warning is that read the novel before you see this adaptation because the serial is made taking that for granted. For any admirer of Eliot this serialization is a must-see. With a beautiful music score, beautiful scenery, this adaptation is sensitively made..and memorable.
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Brilliant adaptation of George Eliot's masterpiece
TheLittleSongbird26 December 2013
Of all of George Eliot's novels, all of which are at least worth reading, Middlemarch gets my vote for personal favourite. It's an incredibly rich story in detail and emotion and the characters are human and complex, though some like Casaubon are purposefully not very likable. And what a brilliant adaptation this is, even better than 2002's Daniel Deronda and that was fabulous as well. Both share the same virtues but 1994's Middlemarch for me is superior because the ending is far more satisfying(if not as bleak as the source material). Middlemarch from a visual stand-point is of very high quality to look, the locations are just splendid, the costumes and period detail very authentic with an eye for detail and the series is wonderfully shot as well, simple but not simplistic and expressive but not overly-elaborate. The music is sensitively orchestrated and understated, not sounding out of place whatsoever. The writing is as rich and human as that in the book, the social commentary strongly emphasised without falling into the trap of swamping things. It also is delivered naturally, has a sense of structure and flow and is adapted intelligently. The adaptation is very faithful(apart from the omission of one plot-point), and the constantly riveting storytelling is layered without trying too hard or feeling bloated. It is easy for a faithful adaptation to be bogged down from being too faithful or trying to do too much, Middlemarch doesn't do that. The pacing is relatively slow and deliberate but the adaptation benefits from that. As anybody who's a fan of the book would argue for a book as detailed as Middlemarch is that that kind of pacing is needed so that it all makes sense and has time to breathe and resonate. The same can also be said for the long(around the 6-hour mark)length. The direction is controlled and subtle, doing nothing to undermine the drama within the story, and the acting is excellent from all. Robert Hardy in particular is a joy to watch, and Michael Hordern also seems to be having a ball. Juliet Aubrey plays Dorothea with strength and passion though the wild streak may take some getting used to, Douglas Hodge is appropriately dashing and idealistic and Rufus Sewell full of brooding charisma. Patrick Malahide makes for a creepy Casaubon, and Judi Dench's voice over is wonderfully sincere and makes the story comprehensible for those unfamiliar and manages to do that without feeling too obvious. To conclude, in every way this adaptation of Middlemarch is brilliant and does justice to a literary masterpiece. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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Visual highlights of the novel - pretty good!
badajoz-122 November 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Reading the novel as i watched the DVD, it is obvious what Miss Evans wrote cannot be put on the screen without a lot of voice over. It is an extremely analytical, author description novel nearly 800 pages long. Like Bondarchuk's 'War and Peace,' you get a tableau of the best set pieces, with BBC costume drama values fully in evidence. A bit of a pity really, because the novel has its faults, mainly too little of the background of the changes of the time, eg Reform, the Railways (but the previous Eliot novel had been too full of such material, and it had failed at the box office!), and poorly underwritten male characters, eg Will, Fred, and Mr Bulstrode. The TV version does not address these shortcomings, and suffers accordingly. Rufus Sewell barely gets a part as he grimaces away - a lot of his little dialogue has been removed, especially his vitriolic rebuke near the end of Rosamund for flirting with him when Dorothea catches them in flagrante - a terrible sop to female, nay feminist, sympathies! But the main characters are richly drawn - Juliet Aubrey and Douglas Hodge, despite the odd looking into the middle distance to suggest about five pages of the novel's description, act extremely well.However, while Patrick Malahide is left to look rather silly because he seems to turn on his wife for little reason! Read the novel, enjoy the DVD, and see Rosamund get away with almost as much as Becky Sharp - the emptiness of British decorum - because of modern sensibilities! Let's hope the remake does not miss the chance to give the little vampiric minx her just lashing!
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nice work if you can get it
gilleliath4 September 2019
Andrew Davies has had a very good career adapting classic novs for TV, on the back of the BBC's classic 1995 Pride and Prejudice. But Austen's book was already written almost like a film script - all he had to do was copy out the words. He tried the same trick slightly earlier in this version of perhaps the greatest English novel, but it doesn't work nearly so well.

The book depends so much on the author telling us about the characters' inner lives - something which can't just be transferred wholesale to a narrator. It seems simple but is actually almost as difficult to adapt as things like Ulysses or The Steppenwolf, and this version no more than scratches the surface. I suspect it must seem dull to those who don't know the book, certainly it didn't make anything like the splash of P&P. It must be a bit embarrassing to put on such a lavish production and get only one BAFTA nomination, for the music.

The cast is good and two in particular are perfect: Patrick Malahide as Casaubon and Rufus Sewell in his breakthrough role as Ladislaw - he has never suited any other part quite so well. Juliet Aubrey, sadly, comes nowhere near doing justice to Dorothea, one of the most attractive heroines in literature; she has the earnestness but not the luminousness.

It was originally a BBC production, but I gather from these reviews that Masterpiece Theater added a voiceover for the benefit of you dumb Yanks, eh? :)
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George Eliot's novel come alive in this movie!
Red-1255 June 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Middlemarch (1994) was directed by Anthony Page. It was adapted brilliantly by Andrew Davies from George Eliot's novel.

We expect great acting from any BBC series, and we're not disappointed here. All of the actors were unknown to me, but one actor--Juliet Aubrey-- truly impressed me with her portrayal of one of the protagonists--Dorothea Brooke. (I wasn't the only one impressed. Aubrey won the 1995 BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress for playing this role.) If you know the novel, you'll remember that Dorothea makes one of the worst fictional marriages of all time. She lives to regret it.

George Eliot wrote long, leisurely novels with many characters and many plots. This novel was about change coming to a provincial town. It's actually a historical novel. It was written in 1871-72, but is set 40 years earlier. So, when Eliot wrote the novel, she knew what her characters didn't know about the years to come.

The status of women and the coming of progress are two of the themes of the novel. Dorothea's marriage is of her own choosing, but that's not often true of Eliot's woman protagonists. Also, Eliot didn't specialize in happy endings. (Well, Silas Marner has a happy ending, but there's plenty of gloom along the way.)

This film is definitely worth seeing. Every part of it is done professionally and well. If you love Victorian novels, and especially if you love George Eliot's work, don't miss it. If you're really not into Eliot, you'd better consider carefully. The series is over six hours long!

We saw this film on the small screen. It was intended for TV, so that's not a problem.

P.S. The series was so popular that thousands of people in England bought the novel. It was the top best seller in England for weeks!
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Where Misunderstandings Abound
someofusarebrave9 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Some time into this series, I realized this film rubbed me the wrong way in a manner very similar to 'Jane Eyre' and previous versions of 'Pride and Prejudice' had. Thinking more about it, I realized that the reason is because of the clear lack of comprehension exhibited by those in charge of converting these rather dense and equally beloved classics to film. These books are all deeply feminine--they were written by women, about women and for the past hundred years have been read by a primarily female audience, with the exception of reading assigned for school. These conversions have all been equally well-meaning on the surface, but at root something far more evil has been taking place. It is no accident of the industry that male directors and male screenwriters have been solely responsible for crafting these conversions. It is ALSO no accident that they are aimed at the sort of female audience who believes soap operas to be decent entertainment.

These stories are about the "female condition" within the social circles occupied by their female authors far more than they are about these characters romantic matches and mismatches. These are women who grow and change and act rather than be acted upon like most so-called "heroines" of today's so-called "great" stories. This is why these stories have appealed to women throughout the ages--they provide us women with both a template for growth and one for happiness.

This is something men can never understand. To cover for their own incomprehension, the male directors and writers who have in the past taken over such projects have focused on the men's stories instead.

Suddenly the women seem like victims, rather than act-ors in their own lives; they stand still in the center of rooms where men pace and rant.

If we want stories that actually reflect our lived experiences of the world, we have to fight to get them made. If we sit back and let whatever happens, happens, we simply wind up with dreck like this.
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Internals not Seen
tedg22 March 2006
TeeVee miniseries exist because of strange economic wrinkles. The nature of the medium is so episodic, so finely grained that it is forced to satisfy the needs created by the sameness and thinness. Its why MacDonalds' sells chicken.

So just as the main fare is perverted in a cartoonish simple sense, so is the antidote extreme in the other.

To feed this beast, you need to have stories that only have scope in the larger context and you must (a rule) be able to get that context only by watching more than one chunk, what in TeeVee land is called an episode. Its a strange term that belies its odd requirements.

Into this niche have long come soap operas, shaped by emotional bumpings and worries of extreme characters. And for a few decades the rich uncle of soap operas have flourished as well. These have to be lush, set in a romantic era. And if they come from a respected novel, so very much the better.

Its better because viewers think they are doing something intelligent, and also because writers don't have to thrash out the essential mechanics. But in reality it doesn't matter what the source material, these all go through more or less the same refining process and come out the other end much the same. Its a matter of market need.

If you actually read the books behind these you'll find a bewildering variety that isn't apparent in their small screen translations. Where Austen (for example) was all about the appearance, Eliot was about the internal holding of bonds. Where Austen was all about attaining a position, Eliot, writing in the next generation, was about the challenges of holding those positions.

In a way, Eliot's innovation was get inside, under the appearance. It doesn't matter what the doctor's house or service look like, only that some nitwit thinks the appearance is important. Its a bit scandalous that as we consume this product, what attracts us, at root, is the appearance of the thing. We are the enemy she writes about.

If you just glanced at this, you'd find it indistinguishable from any of the other such pretty things it is classified with. Its a true insult to the book. An absolute scandal. The creative team should be driven out of the village. Cinematic heathens!

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.
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Entertaining though not stunning adaptation
narrator5613 May 2019
After I started watching this series, I realized I had seen it before many years ago, probably when it was a Masterpiece Theater presentation. I liked this just fine. I haven't read the book, though I own it and have been meaning to read it. I must confess that I didn't like the character Ladislaw, though I couldn't tell you why. Clearly he is one of the characters you are supposed to like, but I just couldn't manage it. On the other hand, I really liked Rosanund Vincy. She is a shallow creature like you often see in period dramas, but what came through was that she really loved Dr. Lydgate.

There are a lot of subplots here and most of them are handled pretty well. Still, in watching the show, I had this feeling that a lot was being left out as far as depth is concerned, which isn't surprising considering the length of the book. Clearly I will want to read it now.

There is what is called a feature that comes with the DVD. It is referred to as a reader's guide, and that is exactly what it is. Usually a behind the scenes documentary has interviews with the actors or crew, or deleted scenes, and so on. This DVD talks almost entirely about the book and the author, and merely shows scenes from the program to illustrate its points. It is almost like they filmed the feature separately and then used post-production to weave it into the series.

So this isn't what I would call a stunning or vibrant adaption of a classic novel, but it is entertaining and I would recommend it to anyone who likes periods dramas.
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