Friday, October 28, 2005

Bleak House opens for visitors

I hope you all did as you were told and tuned in, or have fired up your Bittorrent clients and are merrily pilfering from the BBC that for which I have paid with my toil and sweat.

Andrew Davies did a first rate job of introducing over a dozen characters, with many more to come, and making them all breathe (or not, as the case may be) over the course of the hour. Their relationships were mapped out efficiently and economically, with just the right amount of time spent on each.

Gillian Anderson was terrific as mysterious Lady Dedlock. It almost goes without saying in a BBC production of this type that the photography was superb, but the camera’s relationship with Anderson deserves mention. The way in which she is made the foreground of every shot seems to be almost Hitchcockian, possibly fetishistic, but certainly intriguing, as no other character is photographed in like manner. I sense a certain amount of foreshadowing here...

Weak points? None in the writing so far, but not all of the performances quite hit the mark. Minor characters, but nevertheless, an unnecessary blemish.

I’ve tried reading Bleak House many times over the years, but never managed to get any further through the book than tonight’s episode did. I had some prior familiarity with tonight’s events, and was not disappointed with Davies’ realisation at all. The rest is a mystery I’m keen to watch unravel.

Category: Movies and TV


  1. I thought it was good, the acting being the more notable aspect of it so far 'cos the story was kinda hard to follow what with so many characters & strands to pick up. Not sure about the occasional flash of direction and rush of camera use but other composed shots, like the meloncholy snaps of Ms Anderson, were effective.

    As the episode kicked in, my girlfriend said: "I will never, ever, let you start something like this with a coach, in rain, in the country or on the street. They all do it. Pride & Prej, Middlemarch, all guilty."

  2. My familiarity with this part of the story may have been why I had no problem following it; I haven't really spoken to anyone else today to see if they thought the same.

    I was also not 100% sold on some of the whooshy camerawork, but thought it worked better here than in Davies' Vanity Fair. The problem is that it doesn't really fit with the opening of the book which, while being all about characters moving here there and everywhere, also goes to great pains to point out that they are struggling to move through fog, mud and obfuscation, not effortlessly panning, tilting and waltzing all over the place.

    Let's see how they continue it this evening.

  3. Hi there, we're currently doing a Bleak-House-Readalong on bookcrossing, and of course we are also discussing the BBC adaptation . Here is the blog entry where you'll also find some links on the series.
    Please come and visit us :) Best wishes!