12/08/2009

THROUGH THE CENTURIES : THE BUCCANEERS (BBC 1995)


My second task in the PERIOD DRAMA CHALLENGE has been completed. I watched the BBC 1995 mini-series THE BUCCANEERS. I’m still working on the category THROUGH THE CENTURIES and I’m going to go back in time month after month. I started with CHARLOTTE GRAY, a movie set in the 20th century, during WWII, so this time I'll take you back to the 19th century: 1873.



I think that to be brief and direct I may just say that watching this mini-series was a delight. But this is not enough for a proper review, isn’t it? However, you must believe me. It is an amazing costume drama. THE BUCCANEERS is the last novel written by Edith Wharton. It was unfinished at the time of her death in 1937, and published in that form in 1938. After careful study of the synopsis and notes, Wharton scholar Marion Mainwaring finished the novel, which was published by Viking Press in 1993. Independently, the same year the BBC hired screenwriter Maggie Wadey to adapt and finish the novel for a television serial adaptation, which was produced by the BBC and American PBS broadcaster WGBH, and As a result the novel has two different endings.
The story opens in Newport , R.I., in the U.S.A. in 1873 and focuses on the life experiences and love affairs of four daughters of new money: Virginia and Annabell (Nan) St. George and their friends Lizzy and Conchita. After the arrival of a British governess who has to take care of the St. George girls, Laura Testvalley, their lives get in touch with British aristocracy, their old-styled stiff manners and narrow – minded way of thinking. One of them, Conchita, gets engaged with Lord Richard who will take her to his home in England but soon gets tired of her when he discovers she is not as rich as he believed. All the girls move to England on a sort of formation journey with their governess...they are going to invade England, as the English invaded their native country long ago: they are the new Buccaneers.
The story follows the buccaneers' rocky lives through marriage, pregnancy, affairs and divorce, focusing particularly on the fate of the youngest, most idealistic girl, Nan St. George, and her governess and mentor, Laura Testvalley. The young women struggle with modernity and tradition, conformity and rebellion. And how do they end up?
Once in England, the American girls begin to conquer the British bachelors. Lizzy sets up the engagement between Virginia St. George and Lord Seadown - much to the chagrin of his passionate mistress Idina Hatton. But Lord Seadown is only intersted in Virginia’s money and she will discover the disappointing terrible reality as soon as they got married. Julius, the Duke of Trevenick, proposes to a confused and love-torn Nan St. George. In fact, she loves Guy Thwarte but he must leave the country for two years to make his fortune and, though in love with her, can’t promise her nothing: “He wants to make his fortune not to marry one”. Lizzie Elmsworth marries the rising MP Hector Robinson. Conchita receives more and disturbing news from her roaming husband, Lord Richard who deserts and neglects her.
My favourite characters are, of course, Nan (Carla Gugino) and Guy (Greg Wise). Their love story is really involving and Nan’s character is so passionate, brave, strong-willed and anti-conformist that you can’t remain indifferent. She accepts the marriage proposal of Julius, Duke of Trevenick and becomes a duchess when she is only eighteen. She has to endure appalling disillusion: no fairy-tales but boredom and dissatisfaction at Trevenick. She will be even raped by her childish selfish husband, will lose her baby, will be forced to accept her golden prison. In the end, however, she will have the courage to pursue freedom and love creating a scandal.


The best moment in the series is when Nan and Guy run away together from a party leaving all their acquaintances speechless and astonished. To comment this scene I'll use Laura's, Nan's governess, words :
"When I saw Nan and Guy run away together I needed to scream out loud. I don't know if it was envy or fear. But it was like... it was like to see them take a leap into space."




17 comments:

Jenny Kerr said...

I LOVE this movie, I saw it back when I was in HS.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Jenny Kerr
Hello, Jenny! Yes, I know it is a mini-series which was broadcast in 1995(!) but not in Italy. I only got the DVD last year together with "The Forsytes saga" and I still hadn't had time to see them. Well, I haven't seen the Forsytes yet.
Anyhow, I LOVED watching it. It's a brilliant period drama. I haven't read anything by Edith Wharton so far nor seen the film taken from her The Age of Innocence. Have you?

Mo said...

Sounds very romantic

Anonymous said...

MissBluestocking:

I loved this searies! I think Guy is absolutely gorgeous! At first, I was like...eeew, he has a mustache. But afterwards, his handsome face, brilliant acting, stole my breath away. Some of the scenes with Nan and Guy were one of the most romantic scenes ever. I think I could watch it all over again...

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Mo & MissBluestocking
Thanks for commenting to you both.
I think Nan's and Guy's story is one of the most romantic ever. Guess what, June... After seeing him in Sense and Sensibility as the best Willoughby ever, I didn't like Greg Wise with a moustache but after the first negative impression, getting involved in the story, I even liked him more as Guy.

Anonymous said...

MissBluestocking:

HE was Willoughby?! Ok. So he IS better looking without the moustache. But I agree with you, I like him better as Guy. Such a sweet man...

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Miss Bluestocking
Lucky Emma Thompson! Lucky her! Since, you know, Greg Wise is her husband!

Jenny Kerr said...

Yes I liked AOI. I have several of her books and films, House of Mirth with gillian andersen is excellent, one of my favorites. I just got one of her books via Paperback Swap that I hadn't ever heard of... Glimpses of the Moon. I haven't read it yet but it's on my list!

Table Talk said...

I saw this when it was first broadcast and loved it. I must see if I can find a copy and watch it again. It's just the right sort of pleasure for summer evenings.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Table Talk
Yes, indeed a pleasant pastime! Italian TV doesn't offer much of what I like so... my DVD collection is a great resource!
Thanks for commenting, Ann.

M. Gray said...

I just watched this movie and absolutely LOVED it! I'm so glad you did too! Now I'm in love with Greg Wise! I didn't realize before, but he's Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility! Wow! He's diverse!

Anonymous said...

I love this movie! So romantic...I remember watching it with my mother. We had a girls night the night before I left for college. We watched the entire series--absolutely wonderul!

Anonymous said...

Sto leggendo ora il libro e mi piace molto, sono curiosa di vedere la serie!
Cristina

Anonymous said...

Just watched THE BUCCANEERS and was completely thrilled with the story/acting....enjoyed the whole series...hurrah for DVD...

Anonymous said...

I love the Buccaneers and hadn't seen it since it came out in 95, when I was twelve. Greg Wise is so dreamy as Guy, I love him!! The love story between Nan and Guy is so beautiful. I just saw it in Netflix and had to order it immediately. I can't wait until it comes in mail!!

stilettostorytime said...

I loved the "Buccaneers". I actually watched it first in middle school and it was one of the first productions that made me fall in love with period works. So glad it is becoming more readily available....for awhile there it was rather hard to get.

Gem said...

I was one of the school children singing yankee doodle, with Nan on the tamborine. It was great being part of this film and I got to sit on Greg Wise's lap and have my pic taken with him!! I haven't watched it back since it was aired in 95.