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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Literature > British TV > Mini-Series > Cousin Bette (BBC/Acorn)

Cousin Bette (BBC/Acorn)

 

Picture: C†††† Sound: C+†††† Extras: C-†††† Episodes: B

 

 

Recently, Honorť de Balzacís Cousin Bette was made into a feature film with Jessica Lange, which we would like to look at sometime down the line.Acorn Media has decided to acquire and release a 1971 BBC British mini-series version that has the leisure and time to go all out with the book.The journeyman director Gareth Davies helmed this enduring, interesting and very well produced five-parter.

 

Margaret Tyzack is the title character, a woman who has drifted between scorn and being the black sheep of the family.Eventually, she decides slow revenge and is ready to go to the ends of the earth to get revenge on her happy family.Money is one of the devisors, but there are other issues at hand and being this is 19th Century Paris, a harder time for women then than now.Tyzack is incredible and even someone with Langeís skill could not eclipse what we get here.The conflict comes to a head with the help of Valerie Marneffe (a young Helen Mirren already showing why she is one of the best actresses of her generation) speeding up her vendetta with the world.

 

Once again, the last great period of British TV proves once again that it is as great as remembered and everything works.The cast is excellent, including a young pre-Doctor Who Colin Baker, while the production design, color and lighting here embarrass so many digital High Definition productions of late in every genre that it shows how badly TV and film production have regressed.This runs 220 minutes long and is constantly compelling.

 

The 1.33 X 1 image was shot on professional analog PAL video and unfortunately shows its age.Whether this is from storage or the nature of the brand of tape used, there are flaws, but this is colorful and stylishly produced enough to still enjoy.The Dolby Digital 2.0 boosts the original monophonic sound to stereo and it fares better as a result.Extras include text sections of cast filmographies and biography of Balzac, which is not much, but the series is so good that you have got to see it to believe it.If you like your literary adaptations rich, donít miss Cousin Bette.

 

 

-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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