Archive for April 26th, 2013


by Allan Fish

(UK 2001 487m) not on DVD

The writing on the wall

p  Claire Hirsch  d  David Moore, Hettie MacDonald  w  Kevin Hood, Neil Biswas  novel  Tim Pears  ph  Alwin Kuchler  ed  Bill Diver  m  Jocelyn Pook, Harvey Brough  art  Mark Stevenson  cos  Pam Tait, Dinah Collin

Robert Pugh (Charles Freeman), Helen McCrory (Mary Freeman), Shaun Dingwall (James Freeman), Kaye Wragg (Laura), Hazel Monaghan (Mina), Susannah Wise (Alice Freeman), Tony Maudsley (Simon Freeman), James Bradshaw (young James), Charlotte Salt (young Laura), Ravi Kapoor, Shirley Henderson, Kathleen Byron,

The BBC’s still baffling decision to only release to VHS despite the year of release hasn’t helped this masterpiece.  Nor did their decision to try and sneak it into the early year schedule like a wedding crasher.  One would be forgiven for thinking they were ashamed of it.  Yet let us make one thing perfectly clear, to say this is one of the great small screen achievements of the 21st century, despite being first shown only weeks into said century, does it a disservice.  It’s one of the great works of either screen of the modern era.

At its centre we have the Freeman family, headed by engineering industrialist Charles, and covers their lives from around 1952 to the mid 1990s.  Personal loves, hates and tragedies come and go, including a suicide and brutal murder, and continue to haunt not only the family but the fringe, in the shape of the housekeeper’s daughter. (more…)

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