Middlemarch

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Overview

In this 1994 BBC adaptation of George Eliot's novel, altruism, social reform, and romantic love struggle to survive against snobbery, economic oppression, and self-indulgence. Set in the fictional town of Middlemarch in the 1830s, the film begins when Dr. Tertius Lydgate Douglas Hodge arrives in the community to begin a medical practice. Because of his knowledge of the latest medical techniques and his desire to do humanitarian work and pioneering laboratory research, Lydgate becomes the ideal candidate for the ...
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Overview

In this 1994 BBC adaptation of George Eliot's novel, altruism, social reform, and romantic love struggle to survive against snobbery, economic oppression, and self-indulgence. Set in the fictional town of Middlemarch in the 1830s, the film begins when Dr. Tertius Lydgate Douglas Hodge arrives in the community to begin a medical practice. Because of his knowledge of the latest medical techniques and his desire to do humanitarian work and pioneering laboratory research, Lydgate becomes the ideal candidate for the pro bono position of superintendent of a new Middlemarch hospital. Meanwhile, Dorothea Brooke Juliet Aubrey, a well-to-do resident of the nearby town of Tipton Grange, desperately searches for a noble cause to occupy her time. She and her sister Celia, both orphans, live with their uncle, Arthur Brooke Robert Hardy, in a spacious home where they enjoy a comfortable life. After Dorothea observes the plight of poor tenant farmers during a horseback ride in the country, she decides to promote new housing for the farmers. But Dorothea and Lydgate both encounter obstacles as they attempt to realize their dreams. In Dorothea's case, her own uncle, Mr. Brooke, who operates the worst of the tenant farms, refuses to endorse her housing plan. As a self-satisfied member of the local establishment and a possible candidate for Parliament, he deems it wise to maintain the status quo. In Lydgate's case, a corrupt banker, Nicholas Bulstrode Peter Jeffrey, threatens to block the physician's appointment as hospital superintendent unless he supports Bulstrode's candidate for the hospital chaplaincy. Against his better judgment, Lydgate compromises his integrity and backs Bulstrode's man rather than the man better-suited for the job. But the problems of Dorothea and Lydgate don't stop there. Dorothea, who is strikingly attractive, intelligent, and sensitive, chooses a middle-aged husband, the Rev. Edward Casaubon Patrick Malahide, because she thinks she can contribute to his scholarly pursuits. But after marrying him, she discovers he is cold and conceited -- a walking book with an attitude. Her real love, though she doesn't fully realize it, is Will Ladislaw Rufus Sewell, a handsome painter and social reformer who now must keep his distance from the married woman. Lydgate, deeply in love with pretty Rosamond Vincy Trevyn McDowell, marries her only to discover that she is a self-centered spendthrift. While he dotes on her, she dotes on his bank account. Subplots emerge to add suspense and intrigue. One involves Rosamond's brother, Fred Jonathan Firth, who abandons his studies for the ministry against his father's wishes to work the land and to pursue a young woman below his social status. Another involves the grasping banker Bulstrode, who is being blackmailed for acquiring money illegally. Casaubon dies of a heart ailment less than two years after he marries Dorothea, but he manages to hold onto her from the grave. His will states that she must forfeit all the property she inherits if she marries Ladislaw. Because she has already committed portions of her considerable inheritance to charitable causes, she rejects Ladislaw, but cannot tell him why. By this time, Rosamond has bankrupted Lydgate. Suspense builds as the film moves toward its conclusion and discloses the fate of the central characters -- Dorothea, Ladislaw, Lydgate, Rosamond, Bulstrode, and the others. ~ Mike Cummings, All Movie Guide
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mike Cummings
Impressive acting undergirds this three-cassette, six-hour BBC adaptation of George Eliot's great 19th century novel Middlemarch. Heading the cast is Juliet Aubrey, a dark-haired beauty who brings intelligence, sensitivity, and vulnerability to her portrayal of the idealistic Dorothea Brooke. As the plot intertwines the fortunes of her character with those of other characters, her convincing performance anchors the film and sets high standards. Her co-star, Douglas Hodge, meets those standards in his portrayal of Tertius Lydgate, a reform-minded physician in a town of square-toed traditionalists. While presenting Lydgate as a man of integrity and compassion, Hodge projects enough weakness to make his character fully human, capable of wronging a friend and failing to perceive the flaws in others. Another actor who performs with distinction is Robert Hardy as Arthur Brooke. Playing Brooke must have been a challenge for him, for he had to convey a mixture of competing qualities. Outwardly, Brooke is benevolent and upstanding; inwardly, he is coldly indifferent to the plight of the poor and hostile to efforts to bring about social and political reform. Hardy's performance captures the whole of Brooke, giving viewers a chilling glimpse of the kind of "civic- minded" citizen who populates the Middlemarches of every age. As one would expect with a BBC production, cast members in supporting and minor roles also perform competently as they recite dialogue that is often taken verbatim from the novel. Although most of the action in the film takes place in parlors, gardens, libraries, law offices, and sick rooms, the drama nevertheless moves briskly, thanks to good writing and film editing and to the scheming and intrigue that build suspense.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/19/2000
  • UPC: 794051129239
  • Original Release: 1994
  • Rating:

  • Source: Bbc Warner
  • Presentation: 3 Pack
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Technical Credits
Anthony Page Director
George Eliot Source Author
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(0)

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Middlemarch

    We did a group viewing of Middlemarch. Our challenge was---is the movie captivating enough to view in one sitting. Guess What? Everyone was captivated till 2AM. BBC did it again! Characters do great justice to the story. Settings/filming are profound. Our group of 15 vote anonymous "definately a 5 star movie."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Choices and Consequences

    I saw this on PBS several years ago and have waited for it to come out in DVD format. This series has many stories that are interconnected being revealed at the same time. The story is full of moral choices made by the characters and the consequences of those choices. These choices are similiar to the ones we make today even though this story is set in Victorian England. I strongly recommend it for parents and their older children to help in their ethics clarification discussion.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Middlemarch

    Classic British literature, at its best very discriptive in showing life in 19th century England between the social classes of people: the 'peers' and the average person working for a living and the homelife that each group lives (family interaction between each other and others in the same social class & reactions with others outside their determined social circle. Has several storylines going at the same time. I would suggest briefly reading the novel or skimming the book first to familarize with all the characters. I have the VHS edition.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted August 1, 2013

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    Posted February 13, 2010

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    Posted August 25, 2011

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    Posted February 12, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2009

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