Monday, January 19, 2009

Middlemarch (1994)

I stayed up half the night watching the first three quarters of “Middlemarch,” and finishing it up was first on my priority list this morning. It was that good.

It took me a few minutes to get into the story. Rather than following one family or one set of friends, the film takes us into the lives of several families and I didn’t get the threads gathered together for about twenty minutes. From then on, though, I was completely hooked.

Middlemarch is a small English town essentially run by its banker, Mr. Bulstrode. When the new doctor, Mr. Lidgate, comes to town, Mr. Bulstrode takes him aside and tells him that things will go much easier for him if he just does as he’s told. Lidgate is an idealist, full of dreams about his future. He wants to really do some good in the world, find ways to prevent and cure fevers, and Mr. Bulstrode has funded a new hospital primarily for the doctor’s research. But soon word gets around town that Lidgate is in Bulstrode’s pocket, and in the end, this alliance proves bad for both of them.

We go now to the home of Mr. Brooke, a bachelor who raised his two orphaned nieces. The oldest is Dorothea (pictured) a good-hearted, lovely young woman who wants to use her wealth to ease the suffering of others. The younger is Celia, also good-hearted but somewhat more simple and concerned with her own wants and needs. Dorothea has caught the eye of several young men, but it’s not until she meets Mr. Casaubon, a man several years older than herself and completely obsessed with research, that she decides to marry. He appeals to her higher notions of what life should be like, and her greatest wish is to help him with his research, but after they are married, he shuts her out, refusing to allow her to help him or even be involved in his work. She continues to believe in him, even though her marriage is nothing like she’d hoped.

These are the two major threads in the plot, although there are several others. We see Dr. Lidgate fall head over heels in love with a beautiful but silly girl who leads to his disgrace, and yet he never blames her for it. We see Dorothea continue to dream of a better life and a higher standard of living, until she is finally able to pursue the course she’s always wanted. We see others make mistakes and learn from them, while others, unfortunately, don’t learn from them.

This movie is rather along the lines of “Pride and Prejudice,” although in “Middlemarch,” the characters do actually kiss when they fall in love. I just ordered my own copy from Amazon. For those of you subscribed to Netflix, you can watch this film free on your computer.

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Amanda said...

Have you read the book Middlemarch by George Eliot? I'm assuming the movie is based on that one. At first when you said on the challenges blog that you just got this from amazon, I was thinking the book, so I was completely surprised by the review, haha! I need to read more carefully. Or get more sleep, one of the two.

Tristi Pinkston said...

I haven't read the book - watching the movie has actually been my first introduction to George Eliot. I'm watching Daniel Deronda right now and really enjoying it. It was the DVD of Middlemarch I bought through Amazon.

Keeley said...

I watched a BBC version of the book several years ago and I must admit I found it TOTALLY depressing and frustrating. George Elliot deliberately didn't make this a sweet wonderful happily-ever-after type of book.

Tristi, do you come out of this version feeling depressed and frustrated? It sounds like you didn't as you loved it so much you bought it. =)

Anna said...

Sweet.. I will have to watch this film. I don't know if you've seen these, but I think you would like "North and South" and "Wives and Daughters" by Elizabeth Gaskell. Both are watchable online if you have Netflix too.

Tristi Pinkston said...

I wasn't depressed or frustrated, Keeley. I really liked it.

Anna, I did notice both of those films on Netflix. I'm going to definitely have to watch those!

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