A list of the best period films available on DVD and to stream that take place during the reign of Queen Victoria: Victorian era (1837 to 1901). Costume period dramas filmed in England, UK and other countries set in that time period. Television mini-series, PBS, BBC, Masterpiece Theatre productions, historical dramas, heritage films. More to come!
For the lists of the top period dramas and recommended documentaries in additional eras, wander over to: What To Watch: The Period Films List
Please note that all of the lists have multiple pages.
Use the SEARCH box at the top of each list to find what you are looking for by keyword.
Use the FILTER option so you can narrow the results in any given list by these tags.
In 19th century Belgium, a boy named Nello becomes an orphan at the age of two when his mother dies in the Ardennes. His grandfather Jehann Daas, who lives in a small village near the city of Antwerp, takes him in. One day, Nello and Jehann Daas find a dog who was almost beaten to death, and name him Patrasche. Due to the good care of Jehann Daas, the dog recovers, and from then on, Nello and Patrasche are inseparable. Thanks to the support of a loving dog that he helps nurse back to health, an aspiring young artist never gives up hope, despite the hardships.
Starring Jack Warden, Jeremy James Kissner, Jesse James, Jon Voight, Cheryl Ladd.
I would recommend this film to anyone who is looking for a traditional good family film. It is beautifully set, sentimental to a point, and an endearing memory to hold. - Viewer
Parents need to know that this video shows many deeply affecting scenes involving a beaten dog, and the death of a grandfather. It also depicts the death of a dog-abuser by a windmill blade, which some younger children may not understand. - Common Sense Media
There is also a A Dog of Flanders (1959) starring Monique Ahrens, Theodore Bikel, Max Croiset, Katherine Holland, John Soer. Both films have a revised happier ending than that of the original book.
Classic tales of love and loss based on the fiction of Henry James. This collection of romantic dramas includes seven stand-alone episodes made for British television, based on stories and novels by Henry James, including "Washington Square" and "The Wings of the Dove." The pieces each explore James's signature theme of the frequently ill-fated social comingling of British aristocracy and free-spirited Americans. These romantic dramas were filmed for British television in the 1970s and aired in the States in the early 1980s.
All the dramas and desires of late Victorian high society are on display in these vintage adaptations of the writings of Henry James. Romantic tales of love and loss unfold from the country houses of England to the drawing rooms of New York, from the palazzos of Venice to the art studios of London. Scoundrels and schemers collide with ingénues and admirers in the terribly intricate affairs of the heart.
This enchanting anthology features a treasure trove of British actors, including Diana Rigg (The Avengers), Margaret Tyzack (Cousin Bette), Pamela Brown (Becket), Patricia Routledge (Hetty Wainthropp Investigates), Ian Ogilvy (I, Claudius), Anton Rodgers (Scrooge), and Jeremy Brett (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes). The hour-long dramas plumb the exquisite tensions of Henry James’s best-loved stories, including Washington Square, The Aspern Papers, and The Wings of the Dove, with a subtlety and nuance unmatched by more recent adaptations.
Addictive episodes. -- Blogcritics Magazine
Enchantingly good... Sumptuous and not to be missed. -- MemorableTV.com
Starring Diana Rigg, Margaret Tyzack, Pamela Brown.
Set in and around the women's prison at Millbank in Victorian London, Margaret Prior (Anna Madeley - Mr Selfridge, Utopia) has decided to pursue some 'good work' with the lady criminals of one of London's most notorious jails. Of all her friendships with prisoners, she is most fascinated by Selina - a medium. Set in the 1870s.
Sarah Waters' 1999 novel of the same name serves as the inspiration for director Tim Fywell and screenwriter Andrew Davies' gothic period drama detailing the relationship between an upper class Victorian girl still mourning the death of her father and a once-successful medium imprisoned for assaulting a young girl. Margaret (Anna Madeley) may have all the wealth a woman cold want, but without her father around she just can't seem to enjoy it. In desperate need of a diversion and eager to experience life outside of her small protective bubble, Margaret makes arrangements to go to Millbank Prison as a "Lady Visitor." Once inside the stone and steel fortress, it doesn't take long for Margaret to forget about her responsibilities to the prisoners and form a strange fixation on an attractive young named convict Selina (Zoe Tapper). Before Selina was imprisoned, she had enjoyed celebrity status as a medium. That all changed once Selina was accused of assault, yet the closer Margaret gets to the charismatic inmate the more convinced she becomes that her story isn't as simple as the judge made it out to be. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
Tim Fywell directs from a script by Andrew Davies (adapted from a novel by Sarah Waters), and, for all practical intents, everyone does about as well as can be suspected. At its core, AFFINITY is a tale of forbidden romance. Yes, there are elements of spirit-mediums worked into this romantic drama, but, otherwise, there isn’t even the tiniest bit of spookiness in here. However, if you’re willing to suspend some disbelief and enjoy what tale is here, then you’re likely to be rewarded; performances are solid, though some may be mildly put off by the piece’s avant garde sexual themes. - Amazon reviewer Edward L Zimmerman
Starring Zoë Tapper, Anna Madeley, Domini Blythe.
Not suitable for children.
A subversive and haunting retelling of the classic children's story featuring legendary actors Sir Michael Redgrave, Sir John Gielgud, Leo McKern, and satirists Peter Sellers, Peter Cook, and Alan Bennett. This surreal masterpiece was filmed for the BBC by stage and screen director Jonathan Miller. Miller's Victorian Gothic version of "Alice in Wonderland" captures the menacing undertones of Lewis Carroll's story while poking fun at middle-class England.
Fans of Lewis Carroll's classic novel for children will be fascinated by this startling 1966 interpretation by Jonathan Miller, a noted British theater director. Influenced by surrealism and Victorian architecture, Miller's black-and-white version of Wonderland is a dour and creepy place, not the frenetic and charming bustle usually depicted. A brunette Alice (Anne-Marie Mallik) wanders like a sleepwalker, rarely looking anyone in the eye, and has fractured conversations with the likes of the Mad Hatter (Peter Cook, Bedazzled), the Caterpillar (Sir Michael Redgrave, The Lady Vanishes), the Duchess (Leo McKern, Rumpole of the Bailey), and the Mock Turtle (Sir John Gielgud, Brideshead Revisited, Arthur). The result is probably an accurate picture of the adult world seen through a child's eyes--an unsettling and intriguing vision. Also featuring Peter Sellers as the King of Hearts and music by Ravi Shankar. --Bret Fetzer
This 72-minute BBC B&W production is done with all live actors, no animation, yet is faithful to the book. Quoting from the enclosed folder, "...there was no script; Miller (the director) simply typed out the dialogue from Carroll's book each day and presented it to the cast on the set, and after a few rehearsals, they would do a take." Principal characters are portrayed in human form in Victorian period costume, making full utilization of the Tenniel illustrations where possible. For example, the white rabbit (Wilfred Brambell in an outstanding portrayal) is a fussily dressed, brisk-gaited English gentleman with pocket watch, top hat, braided uniform with tails, bow-tie, white gloves, and a white fan. Alice's dress and hair style is perfectly realized.
In black and white.
Starring Peter Sellers, John Gielgud, Michael Redgrave, Wilfrid Brambell, Peter Cook.
Note: This version was not made for children. The DVD includes Director's commentary, Cecil Hepworth's 1903 silent film version of Alice in Wonderland, Dennis Potter's 1965 biopic, Alice, about the real-life Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Carroll's creation, Ravi Shankar Plays for Alice, Behind-the-scenes photo gallery by renowned photographer Terence Spencer
BBC brings its whimsical 1986 adaptation of Alice in Wonderland to DVD! One of the most well-known stories begins one golden summer afternoon. Alice is sitting on a riverbank with her sister when a fully-dressed, talking rabbit runs past her. She follows the rabbit down the hole and enters a nonsensical world where it seems the normal rules of logic do not apply. In Wonderland, Alice participates in a winnerless race, alternates between being tiny and giant, hears riddles at a "mad" tea party, plays croquet with live flamencos, and attends a trial where the Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing the Queen's tarts. Join Alice as she encounters the Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, and others as she makes her way through Wonderland!
Extremely faithful to Carroll’s work, and nearly all of the dialogue (including a number of songs) seems to have been lifted directly from the original text, and it covers most of the book. Having suffered through the plastic Tim Burton movie, Carroll scholars will surely find this a worthy adaptation based on the dialogue alone. What sold me on this Alice was the dawning realization that Letts and Dicks are seemingly paying homage of sorts to the 1939 film version of The Wizard of Oz. The styles used to achieve the two productions are similar, even though they’re separated by decades and tools. Today, the painted backgrounds used to frequently bring Oz to life would be unthinkable, as would these flat CSO backgrounds – but the end results aren’t terribly different if you analyze them sans prejudice. We (hopefully) make allowances for Oz when we watch it today because it’s an understood classic, and forgive that it’s a product of its time, just as this Alice is of its time, and just as importantly, its place: BBC TV. - Ross Ruediger
Starring Kate Dorning, Mark Bassenger, Jonathan Cecil, Ysanne Churchman, Claire Davenport.
Note: You may also be interested in Alice Through the Looking Glass (1973) BBC: "While both programs present frequently disturbing visions that no doubt haunted the children of their respective days, it seems unlikely that kids weaned on the production values and dramatic pacing of today would find much to appreciate here. No, from today’s vantage point, this is fare for adults who can appreciate the conditions under which these shows were created, or people who just want to soak up as many screen versions of Carroll’s literature as possible." - Ross Ruediger
The special effects for both films were produced using what would now be considered primitive green-screen work.
Also see Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the 1972 British film version all-star musical adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic tale starring Fiona Fullerton, Peter Sellers, Michael Crawford and Dudley Moore, and the timeless black and white Alice in Wonderland (1933) starring Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, W.C. Fields, Richard Arlen, Leon Errol.
Tumble down the rabbit hole with Alice for a fantastical new adventure from Walt Disney Pictures and Tim Burton. Inviting and magical, Alice In Wonderland is an imaginative new twist on one of the most beloved stories of all time. Alice (Mia Wasikowska), now 19 years old, returns to the whimsical world she first entered as a child and embarks on a journey to discover her true destiny. This Wonderland is a world beyond your imagination and unlike anything you ve seen before. The extraordinary characters you ve loved come to life richer and more colorful than ever. There s the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen) and more. A triumphant cinematic experience Alice In Wonderland is an incredible feast for your eyes, ears and heart that will captivate audiences of all sizes.
Tim Burton was born to bring Alice in Wonderland to the big screen. Ironically, his version of the Victorian text plays more like The Wizard of Oz than a Lewis Carroll adaptation. On the day of her engagement party, the 19-year-old Alice (a nicely understated Mia Wasikowska) is lead by a white-gloved rabbit to an alternate reality that looks strangely familiar--she's been dreaming about it since she was 6 years old. Stranded in a hall of doors, she sips from a potion that makes her shrink and nibbles on a cake that makes her grow. Once she gets the balance right, she walks through the door that leads her to Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Matt Lucas), the Dormouse (Barbara Windsor), the Blue Caterpillar (Alan Rickman), and the Cheshire Cat (a delightful Stephen Fry), who inform her that only she can free them from the wrath of the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter channeling Bette Davis) by slaying the Jabberwocky. To pull off the feat, she teams up with the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp in glam-rock garb), rebel bloodhound Bayard (Timothy Spall), and Red's sweet sister, the White Queen (Anne Hathaway in goth-rock makeup). While Red welcomes Alice with open arms, she plans an execution for the hat-maker when he displeases her ("Off with his head!"). Drawing from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Burton creates a candy-colored action-adventure tale with a feminist twist. If it drags towards the end, his 3-D extravaganza still offers a trippy good time with a poignant aftertaste. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Produced by Walt Disney Pictures.
Starring Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter.
Note: Parents need to know that Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland might be rated PG, but it's pretty intense and scary at times for younger kids, especially because it's in 3-D. This trippy adaptation -- in which Alice is a young adult -- includes some fantasy violence with scary monsters that attack people, a cruel Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) who frequently sentences people to death, and a climactic battle scene between sword-brandishing humans, animals, and beasts. Some parents might want to know that a caterpillar (played by Alan Rickman) smokes a hookah, but this is as Lewis Carroll depicted the character. The language includes taunting insults like "stupid," "imbecile," "idiot," "bloody," and the like, and the sexuality is limited to one kiss between a married man and another woman and some aggressive flirting. - Common Sense Media
Alone in a new country, wealthy Sara Crewe tries to settle in and make friends at boarding school. But when she learns that she'll never see her beloved father gain, her life is turned upside down. Transformed from princess to pauper, she must swap dancing lessons and luxury for hard work and a room in the attic. Will she find that kindness and genorosity are all the riches she truly needs? Pivotal scenes take place at Christmastime and emphasize the importance of generosity.
The family-friendly mini-series is based upon the novel, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Produced by London Weekend television and shown on PBS / Wonderworks.
Starring Maureen Lipman, Amelia Shankley, Miriam Margolyes, Annette Badland, Natalie Abbott.
Note: The 1986 version is accepted as the most faithful adaptation of the book, partly because A Little Princess (1995) shifts the place to New York and the time period to 1914 just before the outbreak of World War I and makes a more fairytale ending. There is also a The Little Princess (1939) starring Shirley Temple, which also shifts the ending though it is set in Victorian England.
In 1839, the slave ship Amistad set sail from Cuba to America. During the long trip, Cinque (Djimon Hounsou) leads the slaves in an unprecedented uprising. They are then held prisoner in Connecticut, and their release becomes the subject of heated debate. Freed slave Theodore Joadson (Morgan Freeman) wants Cinque and the others exonerated and recruits property lawyer Roger Baldwin (Matthew McConaughey) to help his case. Eventually, John Quincy Adams (Anthony Hopkins) also becomes an ally.
Starring Djimon Hounsou, Matthew McConaughey, Anthony Hopkins, Morgan Freeman, Nigel Hawthorne.
Note: This film has been criticized for being a "simplistic, sanitized history lesson" - for those who want something else, try the Stuart era Adanggaman (2000): "Set in the late 17th century, on the Western coast of Africa, "Adangganan" is a provocative retelling of the African slave experience, based on facts. A rebellious young man, who refuses to marry his parents' choice of a bride, flees his village one evening, only to return to find his father and girlfriend slain, his village destroyed and his mother captured by a tribe of Amazon warriors. His efforts to free his mother lead to the kingdom of Adanggaman, where captives are held before sale." Adanggaman is an "unblinking look at a rarely acknowledged underside of African history: the active role of black Africans in supplying human cargo for the European slave trade."
In her small frontier town, Abbie finds herself being courted by two different men, Will and Ed. After promising Ed her hand, her true love, Will comes back from the war asking the same. Abbie choses Will and the pair leave town for land out West. With only the pearls her mother gave her as a wedding gift and her love of singing, Abbie discovers that life on the prairie is tough on her marriage and her dream.
A Civil War veteran (Adrian Pasdar) and his wife (Nancy McKeon) face hardships as pioneers settling farmland in 1800s Nebraska. based on the 1928 novel A Lantern In Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich.
Starring Nancy McKeon, Adrian Pasdar, Adam Storke, Lucy Deakins, Jeremy London.
This unusual adult drama puts the class structures of Victorian England under a microscope with an almost literary use of metaphors and incidental details. Entomologist William Adamson (Mark Rylance) loses everything, including his precious insect collection, in a shipwreck, and is taken in by the wealthy Reverend Alabaster (Jeremy Kemp), himself a would-be researcher in the insect world. William soon begins his research anew, aided by Alabaster relative Matty Crompton (Kristin Scott Thomas), while wooing and eventually winning the hand of Alabaster's strange daughter, Eugenia (Patsy Kensit). William ultimately finds himself entangled in family scandals involving the death of Eugenia's previous fiancé, all the while probing deeper into the social structure of insect society. Angels And Insects's deliberate approach may not appease all tastes, but it is nevertheless a sophisticated, multi-layered tale. Based on a short novel named Morpho Eugenia by A. S. Byatt.
The story works like the trap of some exotic insect, which decorates the entrances with sweet nectars and soft fragrances, and then prepares an acid bath inside. Notice the countless touches that show the harsh pecking order in mid-19th century Britain: the servants who turn to face the wall when a master or mistress passes; the cocky arrogance of Edgar, who feels birth has given him the right to insult his social inferiors; the repressed anger of old Sir Harald, whose insect collection replaces a great many other things he would love to pin wriggling to a cork board. - Roger Ebert
Starring Mark Rylance, Kristin Scott Thomas, Patsy Kensit.
Sexy leading man Rupert Everett heads an acclaimed all-star cast in this wonderfully witty story of decadence, romance, and scandal! Sir Robert is a highly respected politician whose spotless reputation is the pride of his beautiful wife (Cate Blanchett ) and adoring sister (Minnie Driver). But when an old acquaintance (Julianne Moore) threatens to reveal a dark secret from Robert's past, only his womanizing party-loving best friend Goring (Everett) is scheming and dishonest enough to come to his aid.
Oscar Wilde's "An Ideal Husband" works because it takes place in a society bound by inflexible rules and social inhibitions. Here is a story in which a marriage, a romance, a fortune and government policy all rest on such foundations as a man's obligation to act like a gentleman. (Of course he doesn't need to be a gentleman--that's where the story comes in.) - Roger Ebert
Starring Rupert Everett, Julianne Moore, Minnie Driver, Cate Blanchett and Peter Vaughan.
Academy Award winner Jodie Foster and international action star Chow Yun-Fat bring to life the epic true story of a woman who challenged the heart of a king and inspired the destiny of a nation. English school teacher Anna Leonowens has traveled to Siam to educate the fifty-eight children of King Mongkut. If she has preconceived notions about the East, the King has similar notions about the West. But amid the danger of growing political unrest, their respect for each other slowly turns into something more.
Foster moves gracefully in period costumes and commands the screen charismatically; her stab at a Victorian accent is respectable if not perfect. Caleb Deschanel’s widescreen lensing in Malaysia (standing in for Thailand) is eye-popping and probably a reflection of helmer’s conception. Luciana Arrighi’s lavish design, Jenny Beavan’s sumptuous costumes and George Fenton’s melodic score contribute to an extremely sentimental but undeniably gratifying diversion.- Variety
This "magnificent spectacle" with "matchless pageantry" and "frequent moments of high comedy," (Hollywood Reporter) stars Rex Harrison as the King of Siam and Irene Dunne as Anna, the charming, strong-willed English widow who teaches him how to live in a modern world. Accompanied by her son, Anna Owens arrives in Siam to educate the king's harem and his sixty-seven children. She soon discovers there are many obstacles to overcome and it is only through her ingenuity, wit and dedication that she is able to continue her work. Slowly, she sees the effect of her influence on the court, but it is not until the stubborn king realizes he need's Ana's wisdom and guidance that her difficult mission is a success.
The story of British teacher Anna Leonowens and her sojourn to the court of 19th century Siam has proved irresistible to many generations--as book, movie, or Broadway show. Arguably the most beloved version of the story is the 1946 Fox film Anna and the King of Siam, an elegant and bittersweet drama. Irene Dunne plays the widow Anna, who arrives in Siam in 1862 with her young son in tow. Her ostensible job, to teach the many children of the polygamous King (Rex Harrison, in his first Hollywood picture), soon broadens into an unofficial court advisor. The most amusing sequences in the first half of the picture are the battles of manners between feisty Anna and the intellectually curious but tradition-bound king--a battle that engenders great mutual respect. John Farrow directed, with his customary sympathy for the female heroine and eye for handsome spaces (the film won Oscars for art direction and Arthur Miller's cinematography). The main Asian characters are played by white actors, with Lee J. Cobb especially startling as the prime minister. The affecting story leaves no doubt to why Rodgers and Hammerstein saw the future musical The King and I in the material, and indeed you may find yourself humming "Getting to Know You" or "Something Wonderful" beneath certain scenes. It was remade in 1999 with Jodie Foster as Anna and the King, with more cultural correctness but less charm. --Robert Horton
While making a trip to visit family, Anna Karenina (Vivien Leigh) meets Countess Vronsky on the train. When they arrive in Moscow, Anna meets the son of the countess, Count Vronsky (Kieron Moore), and they instantly fall in love.
However, Anna is already married with a young child.
After returning to her husband, Alexei (Ralph Richardson), in St. Petersburg, she starts having an affair with Count Vronsky. Once news of this begins to spread, Anna must face the consequences.
Leo Tolstoy’s masterpiece has been adapted many times for film and television, but never with such care and attention to detail. Made by the BBC, this lavish, definitive version first aired on Masterpiece Theatre in 1977 and has been a fan favorite ever since.
Set in Imperial Russia in the 1870s, this is an epic tale of passion, betrayal, society, and the search for happiness. Nicola Pagett (Upstairs, Downstairs,) stars as Anna—young, beautiful, and trapped in a loveless marriage to the high-minded, much older Karenin (Eric Porter, The Forsyte Saga). When she meets debonair cavalry officer Count Vronsky (Stuart Wilson, The Age of Innocence) on a Moscow train platform, she can’t resist looking back and sealing her fate.
Unspooling over 10 luxurious episodes, this Emmy® nominee for Outstanding Limited Series covers all the story lines and characters with the depth and richness that Tolstoy’s flawless tome deserves.
Shown on PBS Masterpiece Theatre.
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. This famous line commences a refreshingly modern interpretation of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina-—an epic tale of love, duty, marriage and infidelity. This richly detailed film charts the tragic romantic triangle formed when the dashing Count Vronsky defies social conventions and falls into forbidden love with Anna, the ignored wife of an aristocrat. Soon, Anna’s children—a son by Alexei and illegitimate daughter by Vronsky—become pawns in Alexei’s game to see that Anna pays a terrible price for her indiscretion. With its gripping narrative and unbridled romance, Anna Karenina reveals the uncontrollable passion, emotional betrayal and courage of a woman who violates moral strictures and risks everything to follow her heart. Helen McCrory stars as Anna, along with Kevin McKidd (Trainspotting) as Count Vronsky, the handsome object of her desires; and Tony Award-winner Stephen Dillane (The Real Thing) as Alexei Karenin, Anna’s callously principled husband.
Shown on PBS Masterpiece Theatre.
Academy Award nominee Keira Knightley, Academy Award nominee Jude Law and Aaron Taylor-Johnson dazzle in this stunning new vision of Leo Tolstoy’s epic love story. At the twilight of an empire, Anna Karenina (Knightley), the beautiful high-ranking wife of one of imperial Russia’s most esteemed men (Law), has it all. But when she meets the dashing cavalry officer Vronsky (Taylor-Johnson), there is a mutual spark of instant attraction that cannot be ignored. She’s immediately swept up in a passionate affair that will shock a nation and change the lives of everyone around her. From acclaimed director Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice) and Academy Award-winning writer Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love) comes this visually enchanting masterpiece hailed by critics as “ecstatic” (Time), “rapturous” (MSN Movies) and “a spectacle that has to be seen to be believed!” (The Huffington Post)
Inspired by a short story, Isabella Caldwell is a high-society woman in late-1800's New York. When Isabella's estranged daughter Mary becomes ill and is too proud to ask her mother for assistance, Mary's daughter, Tilly, takes it upon herself to contact her grandmother and plead for help. Isabella's arrival causes an upheaval in many lives, but may also lead to reconciliation within the family.
Based on the short story by Louisa Mae Alcott, author of Little Women.
Starring Jacqueline Bisset, Helene Joy, Tatiana Maslany.
Victorian-era Englishman Phileas Fogg (David Niven) proclaims before his fellow members of a London gentleman's club that he can circumnavigate the globe in a mere 80 days, further boasting that he will bet the princely sum of 20,000 pounds on the success of his endeavor. With his stalwart manservant Passepartout (Cantinflas) alongside, he goes forth on his adventure, pursued by a dogged Police Inspector (Robert Newton) who suspects Fogg of chicanery.
This mammoth and mad pictorial rendering of the famous old novel of Jules Verne, which was publicly unveiled last evening at the Rivoli, is a sprawling conglomeration of refined English comedy, giant-screen travel panoramics and slam-bang Keystone burlesque. It makes like a wild adventure picture and, with some forty famous actors in "bit" roles, it also takes on the characteristic of a running recognition game. It is noisy with sound effects and music. It is overwhelmingly large in the process known as Todd-AO. It runs for two hours fifty-five minutes (not counting an intermission). And it is, undeniably, quite a show. Is the whole thing too exhausting? It's a question of how much you can take. We not only took it but found it most amusing. - NYT
Starring David Niven, Cantinflas, Robert Newton.
In Belle Epoque Paris, 19-year-old kitchen maid Augustine suffers an inexplicable seizure that leaves her partially paralyzed and is shipped off to an all-female psychiatric hospital specializing in the then-fashionable ailment of 'hysteria'. Augustine captures the attention of renowned neurologist Dr. Charcot (Vincent Lindon) after she has another attack that appears to give her intense physical pleasure. Intrigued, he begins using her as his principal subject, hypnotizing her in front of his fellow doctors. As Augustine displays her spectacular fits in lecture halls, the lines between doctor and patient become blurred, radically impacting the course of both of their lives. Set in 1885.
An eloquently atmospheric, distinctly cinematographic and brilliantly romantic mystery and a whole-heartedly executed directorial debut. - Sindre Kaspersen
Alice Winocour's "Augustine" has a lot of surface appeal, especially in its terrific lead performances and handsome visual manner. Ultimately, while this character-based drama proves consistently engrossing, it leaves various pertinent and fascinating issues frustratingly unexplored. - Godfrey Cheshire
Starring Vincent Lindon, Soko, Chiara Mastroianni, Olivier Rabourdin, Roxane Duran, Lise Lamétrie, Ange Ruzé, Stéphan Wojtowicz.
In French with English subtitles.
Note: Contains adult themes. The film premiered in the International Critics' Week Special Screenings section at the 65th Cannes International Film Festival in 2012, was screened in the Discovery section at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival in 2012, was shot on location in France and is a French production which was produced by producers Emilie Tisne and Isabelle Madeleine.
Based on a Victorian novel by Wilkie Collins, Basil is a British-made costume drama that ended up on cable and home video. Jared Leto plays Basil, a well-to-do young aristocrat with an uptight Victorian father (Derek Jacobi). He befriends the mysterious gentleman John Mannion (Christian Slater) and falls in love with the lower-class girl Julia Sherwin (Claire Forlani). His father is upset about his questionable choices and threatens to disown him, thereby renouncing his birthright to inherit Windemere Manor.
Starring Christian Slater, Jared Leto, Claire Forlani.
Note: Most did not like this film, if the reviews are indications of popular sentiment. However, Wilkie Collins fans would do well to read this article from which the following is excerpted, and to view the film. "Key characters and aspects of the plot remain, but Bharadwaj has determinedly made a much less “sensational,” excessive Basil. One of the glories of Collins’s novel for fans, no doubt, is the way it conducts its various over-the-top frenzies among resolutely domestic settings (calling out perhaps towards directors like Roger Corman or Ken Russell); yet this film’s atmosphere is brooding, clean, and calm. Although we must know that Collins’s labyrinthine plots are not signs of incompetence, but basic to his created world, the film reins in the more “unbelievable” and “ridiculous” aspects of plot and character.
The film version, implicitly and resourcefully, argues that the improbable, labyrinthine twists in Collins’s plot ultimately mask over, or reduce to, repetition and doubling. At first glance, it may appear that the whole budget has gone to pay off Christian Slater, since the interior of Basil’s family mansion consists, for the purposes of filming, almost entirely of the main staircase. The sets remind us that the plot is not progressing, but rather spiralling or repeating. While Collins enacts a turbulent and confusing confrontation with modernity, by contrast, the film version of Basil exudes an airy confidence in its re-enactment of the Victorian. The contemporary Victorian film is and is not a nostalgia film...the final result is that the movie has it both ways: nostalgia and anti-nostalgia at once, cute and sexual, sentimental and political. The film Basil, too, wants us to sympathize with its “rebellions” against Victorian oppression, at the same time that it gives us the serene pleasures and pastoral scenery of masterpiece theater (this Ralph lives out in a country farm, where, after all his mistakes, he finds “the possibility of happiness”). Eternally young and passionate, we are in control of our pasts and presents; we love our enlightened modernity and the way we can make history over into ourselves. Collins’s Basil offers us neither alternative, neither a confident present nor a trouble-free past, and it is on this absence of choice and control that our more knowing, free gaze, in its various overly assured and flexible historicisms, refuses to look." -Steven Dillon
When the superintendent of the Canadian insane asylum, Dr. Maurice Bucke, meets poet Walt Whitman, his life and that of his wife and patients is radically changed.
Set in 1880, BEAUTIFUL DREAMERS is a true story of emotional rediscovery and sexual awakening. Walt Whitman, played by Rip Torn, is the notorious, free-thinking American poet who became the catalyst for change in the lives of Dr Maurice Bucke and his wife Jessie Bucke. Dr Bucke, a contemporary man trapped in Victorian society, is the superintendent of a repressive mental asylum in a small town in Canada. Thwarted at every attempt to bring about change Bucke is transformed after meeting Walt Whitman by his direct and compassionate means of communication. A lasting friendship is formed. Turning their backs on convention, it seems that only a miracle and a cricket match, will shake the very foundations of Victorian tradition.
Starring Colm Feore, Rip Torn, Wendel Meldrum, Sheila McCarthy, Colin Fox.
The ever present specter in ''Beloved'' is that of slavery, which Ms. Morrison conjured with such inspired obliqueness in a story set just after the Civil War. (NYT) Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover play the unforgettable lead roles in a powerful, widely acclaimed cinematic triumph from Jonathan Demme. On a difficult journey to find freedom, Sethe (Winfrey) is constantly confronted by the secrets that have haunted her for years. Then, an old friend from out of her past (Glover) unexpectedly reenters her life. With his help, Sethe may finally be able to rediscover who she is and regain her lost sense of hope. Also featuring outstanding performances from Thandie Newton and Lisa Gay Hamilton -- you'll agree with critics everywhere who've hailed this landmark adaptation of Toni Morrison's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel as one of the year's finest films. Based on a true story.
Set in 1873, with frequent flashbacks to the early 1850s.
“Beloved,” film and novel, is not a genre ghost story but a work that uses the supernatural to touch on deep feelings. Like The Turn of the Screw, it has no final explanation. Spirit manifestations come from madness and need not follow logical agendas. It is a remarkable and brave achievement for Demme and his producer and star, Winfrey, to face this difficult material head-on and not try to dumb it down into a more accessible, less evocative form. - Roger Ebert
Starring Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover, Dorothy Love Coates, Thandie Newton, Jude Ciccolella.
Note: ''Beloved'' is rated R. It includes graphic nudity, sexual situations and discreetly brief flashes of terrible brutality.
Rowan Atkinson is deliciously twisted as the comic villain, Edmund Blackadder, in the enormously popular comedy series. Follow Blackadder in hysterical send-ups of the Middle Ages, the Elizabethan age, the Regency period, and World War I.
One of the best comedy series ever to emerge from England, Black Adder traces the deeply cynical and self-serving lineage of various Edmund Blackadders from the muck of the Middle Ages to the frontline of World War I. In his pre-Bean triumph, British comic actor Rowan Atkinson played all five versions of Edmund, beginning with the villainous and cowardly Duke of Edinburgh, whose scheming mind and awful haircut seem to stand him in good stead to become the next Archbishop of Canterbury--a deadly occupation if ever there was one. Among tales of royal dethronings, Black Death, witch smellers (who root out spell makers with their noses), and ghosts, Edmund is a perennial survivor who never quite gets ahead in multiple episodes. Jump to the Elizabethan era and Atkinson picks up the saga as Lord Edmund, who is perpetually courting favor from mad Queen Bess (Miranda Richardson) and is always walking a tightrope from which he can either gain the world or lose his head. Subjected to bizarre services for her majesty (at one point, Edmund is asked to do for potatoes what Sir Walter Raleigh did for tobacco), Edmund--as with his ancestor--can never quite fulfill his larger ambitions. The next incarnation we encounter is in late-18th-century Regency England. This time, Blackadder is a mere butler to the idiotic Prince Regent (Hugh Laurie in a brilliantly buffoonish performance) and is caught in various misadventures with Samuel Johnson, Shakespearean actors, the Scarlet Pimpernel, and William Pitt the younger. With a brief stop in Victorian London for a Christmas special, the series concludes with several episodes set during the Great War. The new Edmund is a career Army officer, but a scoundrel all the same. Shirking his duties whenever possible and taking advantage of any opportunity for undeserved reward, this final, deeply sour, and very funny Blackadder negotiates survival among a cadre of fools and dimwits. No small mention can be made of Atkinson's supporting cast, easily among the finest comic performers of their generation: besides Laurie and Richardson, Stephen Fry, Tony Robinson, and Tim McInnerny. --Tom Keogh
Starring Rowan Atkinson, Brian Blessed, Elspet Gray, Tim McInnerny, Patrick Allen.
Dickens' classic tale of the infamous Jarndyce case which has been dragging through the courts for years, ruining lives and leaving entire families devastated. A notable plot omission in this version is the story of Caddy Jellyby and the Turveydrop family.
This 1985 television production faithfully adapts Charles Dickens' Bleak House, an indictment of Victorian England's corrupt legal and class systems that prey on the weak and the innocent. Esther Summerson (Suzanne Burden), a kind and level-headed young woman introduced as an orphan, is the link who knits several storylines together as a witness to injustice. - Mike Cummings, Rovi
Shown on PBS Masterpiece Theatre.
Starring Diana Rigg, Denholm Elliott and Suzanne Burden.