Monday, April 27, 2009

Cranford (2007)

Adapted from Elizabeth Gaskell's 3 novels: Cranford, Mr Harrison's Confessions and My Lady Ludlow, this TV series is set in Cranford (near Manchester) in summer 1842 to summer1843, begins with the arrival of Mary Smith and Dr Harrison.

Cranford is a lovely, warm place to live, especially in the first 2 of the 5 episodes - when the troubles have not begun. The main characters are spinsters and widows (not many young people around), but they help each other (gathering candles so Dr Harrison can operate, collecting money secretly for Mathilda). Some are old fashioned (Lady Ludlow, Deborah) and for them the progress is like the end of the world - at that time, a railway is coming to Cranford; some are always think of others (Mathilda, Jessie) even though it means they have to lose the loves of their lives.

There are funny times (Mrs Forrester's precious lace gets into the cat's stomach or the pyjamas for the cow), worrying times (the misunderstanding which makes Dr Harrison almost lose Sophie), good times (party at Hanbury) and bad times (death of Deborah, Walter, and Mr Carter; Harry must work at the stables) - the stories from the 3 novels are woven well.

There are 2 things which are not explained in the movie: how Mary Smith could get the 2 Valentines cards sent to the Hutton girls? And who attacked and robbed Mr Johnson - was it one of railway workers or an acquaintance of the gypsy who came to Miss Pole's house?

Beautifully written and well directed, with an impressive cast: Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins, Francesca Annis, Michael Gambon, Imelda Staunton, Julia McKenzie, Barbara Flynn, Greg Wise, Alex Etel, ... Ideal to watch when we need something light to relax.

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