Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Movie Review: Cranford

By the Pleasant Times Movie Critic, Miss dePoint

I am sure that many of your availed yourselves of the opportunity to watch the Cranford series on Public Television this month. As I am a fan of most costume dramas, I was prepared to enjoy this one immensely.

Cranford is about a little village in England, and the inhabitants thereof, their wants and wishes, secret hopes and desires, amidst the daily activities and events of the village. Lest you think this sounds boring, let me assure you it is quite the opposite. If I had been of a frail constitution I would not have survived this series. When I say "hopes and desires" I mean largely profound things, and when I saw "events of the village" I am speaking of absolute tragedies and shocking events and moments of triumph.

As I understand it, this production is a compilation of several books, none of which have crossed my path in my short life. However, as a book lover and one who dislikes seeing stories "refreshed" or "adapted" by filmmakers, I hope for fellow loyal book devotees that this film was accurate to their imagination, at least as accurate as a compilation could be.

I also understand that my former criticisms of these Masterpiece adaptations being too "choppy" had to do with editing it for the time slot on television. If "Cranford" had been edited, it did not appear to be choppy to me, just fast-paced. It was not too difficult to keep track of everyone, a little easier than a Dickens film I think.

The acting was fine; I think that this was a gathering of some of the best actors, many familiar to us from other period films we enjoy.

Though I did not entirely care for the older ladies' excesses of lace on caps and collars, I can say that I admired many of the finer points of the costumes, and I very much liked the dresses of the younger characters. They were modest, which is quite a rarity in movies.

However, the medical/bloody scenes were too difficult to watch. I had to get up and leave the room at one point. The tension in other parts was very strong. There is something rather cruel about the story, for just about the time I got used to, fond of, or hoping the best for, a character, Mrs. Gaskell would kill them off. It was unfair!

The ending was a happy one, but it was so lickity-split after all the agony that I had gone through, that I was tense for hours afterwards. I thought the film needed a longer "happy ending" segment to make up for all the death and loss.

With the fine acting, the humor, the tension and the "action" (yes, there was an explosion) I believe that the men will find this series interests them as much as it does the women. For myself, if I did watch this film again, it would be with a heavy fast-forward finger.

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