To the Lighthouse

Overview

Like the Virginia Woolf novel which it interprets, this 1983 BBC production has three parts: "The Window," "Time Passes," and "The Lighthouse." The first focuses on one day in the life of the Ramsay family -- the father and mother, their eight children, and four guests -- while they vacation on the Cornwall peninsula in remote southwestern England. In conversations in the summer house, at the beach, during strolls, and at cricket and wrestling matches, the characters reveal their beliefs, their prejudices, and ...
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Overview

Like the Virginia Woolf novel which it interprets, this 1983 BBC production has three parts: "The Window," "Time Passes," and "The Lighthouse." The first focuses on one day in the life of the Ramsay family -- the father and mother, their eight children, and four guests -- while they vacation on the Cornwall peninsula in remote southwestern England. In conversations in the summer house, at the beach, during strolls, and at cricket and wrestling matches, the characters reveal their beliefs, their prejudices, and their longings in an era when old traditions are dying and new traditions are quickening. James, six -- a brat to his father but a dear to his mother -- repeatedly asserts his wish to visit a lighthouse on an island within easy rowing distance. His father Michael Gough refuses to go (and, thus, no one goes) because the weather isn't right. In a moment of dramatic irony, the self-centered father scolds the boy for always thinking only of himself. Self-effacing Mrs. Ramsay (Rosemary Harris) comforts the child. She also sees to the needs of other family members and guests, who have lighthouses of their own -- metaphorical ones -- to preoccupy them. Her daughter, Prue, for example, anticipates her coming marriage while visitor Lily Briscoe looks forward to her career as a painter. In defiance of social convention, Briscoe chooses to remain unmarried. The film depicts the second part of the novel, "Time Passes," with transitional scenes showing changes of season over ten years. During this period, Mrs. Ramsey dies, and Mr. Ramsey laments her death in a weeping spell, saying she never really understood that he loved her. In the final part, "The Lighthouse," James finally gets his wish when he, his father, and other members of the family row out to the towering beacon. On the shore, meanwhile, Lily Briscoe finishes a painting of Mrs. Ramsey.
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Special Features

About the author; About the cast; About the novel; Discussion topics
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mike Cummings
To the Lighthouse holds a magnifying glass to the human psyche. What matters is what happens inside the characters. External events, regardless of their significance to the world at large, are trivial. The cerebrum -- and all the synapses that drive human action -- is everything. In a manner of speaking, To the Lighthouse is a brain scan that X-rays thought processes and displays them in a tirade or a temper tantrum, in the swing of a cricket bat or the stroke of a paintbrush. The BBC produced the film in 1983 in typical style: a strong cast, a good script, and a bargain-basement mise-en-scéne. The production is daring, for it attempts to capture in images a virtually plotless Virginia Woolf novel, the meaning of which critics have been debating since its publication in 1927. Michael Gough performs brilliantly as the autocratic father and husband who imposes his will on his household at a time in early 20th century England when society convulses with changes challenging male domination and class traditions. Rosemary Harris is affecting as the wife and mother who works hard to keep the family together, earn everyone's love, and find meaning in life. In a pivotal role as Lily Briscoe, who chooses spinsterhood in order to pursue painting, Suzanne Bertish is reserved and understated, but as full of resolve as a quiet volcano. As Mr. Ramsay's guest, atheist Charles Tansley, Kenneth Branaugh aptly represents the arrogant, assertive male of the times. The film and the novel do not yield easily to definitive interpretations. Some find To the Lighthouse fascinating; others dismiss it as bosh.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/9/2004
  • UPC: 012233461923
  • Original Release: 1983
  • Rating:

  • Source: Monterey Video
  • Region Code: 1
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:55:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Rosemary Harris Mrs. Ramsay
Michael Gough Mr. Ramsay
Suzanne Bertish Lily Briscoe
Lynsey Baxter Nancy Ramsay
Pippa Guard Prue Ramsay
Technical Credits
Colin Gregg Director
Richard Andry Cinematographer
Dan Rae Editor
Simone Reynolds Casting
Alan Shallcross Producer
Hugh Stoddart Screenwriter
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Cornwall 1912 [9:25]
2. Charles Tansley [14:50]
3. Esoteric Conversation [9:28]
4. Mr. Ramsay [9:28]
5. Disappointment [8:35]
6. Mr. Ramsay Weakens [12:44]
7. No Trip to the Lighthouse [12:40]
8. The Dinner [8:11]
9. Time Passes [7:05]
10. The Return [13:44]
11. To the Lighthouse [6:28]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Play Movie
   Scene Access
   About the Cast
      Kenneth Branagh
      Rosemary Harris
   About the Author
      Virginia Woolf
   About the Novel
   Other DVDs
   Discussion Topics
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