Sunday, July 08, 2007

In which Masterpiece Theatre disappoints me.

I love Masterpiece Theatre more than a sane 22-year-old should. Because we are not-so-secretly 80ish cat ladies, Wendy and I once seriously considered not going to a party on a Saturday night so we could watch Masterpiece's Casanova on TiVo. Thus I was delighted to find that my TiVo had recorded the ITV miniseries of Docter Zhivago as shown on Masterpiece Theatre. I mean, I was slightly concerned to see that Keira Knightly, who would have been a teenager when it was filmed, was playing Lara, but excited none the less.

I grew somewhat more concerned though, when Russel Baker informed us that this version, "emphasizes the carnal nature of the story." I'm sorry, I think Knightley is, and was at the time, a pretty girl, if not Julie Christie pretty. I just find it hard to see 17-year-old Keira Knightley was that sexually alluring. Granted, I'm not a guy so maybe I'm just missing it. But I really just don't understand it. Knightly also isn't the actress that Christie was (and is).

Two other problems rapidly presented themselves. One was that the acting was frequently less than spectacular. Not only on Knightley's part--she plays Lara the same way she plays ever other role--but on the part of others as well. The other issue is that the whole thing is so damn British seeming. It's incredibly hard to see this as taking place in early-20th century Russia. I constantly found myself thinking, nope, just not buying it. The actors and the production itself just seem to scream Great Britain.

Now, I don't want to make it sound like I think the David Lean version is a perfect movie. It's glacially slow and has plenty of issues. To my mind it has one particular strength that would make it worthwhile no matter what. That being the fact that it's a breathtakingly beautiful movie. There are constant moments--a young Zhivago looking out of a frosted window, sweeping mountain vistas--that remind you not only how beautiful film can be, but how beautiful the world can be. There are frames that are just indescribably beautiful.

I don't expect a tv miniseries to be able to manage that. But nevertheless it can't help but be disappointing how very, very far it is from that. On a whole I can't say I'm glad to be watching this. Probably won't finish it, I don't think.

In other news, that guy from Love, Actually who runs off to America to get laid by the British-accent-loving American girls is played Pasha. He's crap in this.

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