Sunday, April 13, 2008

"A Room With a View" on Masterpiece

I have very mixed feelings about the Masterpiece version of "A Room With a View." There are some spoilers here, so read on at your peril.

I loved the beautiful 1985 version, although it's not without its faults. The casting is wonderful, with one exception - although I can't say I really had a problem when I first saw it, I do think that Julian Sands' George is a weak link. I think it's both him and the way the character is written - he's just kind of there, moping in the background, taking advantage of his moments when they come.

And the way George was written was one of the things I really liked about this 2007 version, which was fine overall but didn't really live up to the earlier version. This George, however, was more active, and the class issue was pushed much more to the fore - it's not an element I remember clearly from either the 1985 movie or the novel, and having it emphasized (OK, spelled out for me) made everyone's reasons for not accepting their relationship much clearer. He's OK to play tennis with for the afternoon, but not to marry into the family.

The framing story, I thought, was not only unnecessary, but just not right - the novel was originally published in 1911, three years before the war started. I'm not sure what the point was of having George die; yes, the story is about embracing the moment, but I don't need to see his body on the battlefield to get that.

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