19 March 2005 | AudemarsPiguet
Probably the best adaptation in film history
Being a huge Galsworthy fan and knowing what an immense popularity this TV-series had claimed worldwide,I was eager to watch it. Widely regarded as one of film history's most faithful(if not the most faithful)adaptation after a literary work,I think that it's perfectly true.This where Galsworthy's genius(one of my favorite writers)is intertwined with B.B.C.'s high professionalism to create a cinematographic masterpiece. Characters,sets,costumes,the care for the historical period,make this film a precise depiction of one world literature's most brilliant literary work as well as of the Victorian age and its aftermath. It's the story of an upper-middle-class family(Galsworthy's newly rich family being actually the source of inspiration)having recently acquired wealth in nineteenth century Britain,their rise running almost parallel with the rise of modern Capitalism and the Industrial Revolution. Until 1886,when the story begins(though trough several flashbacks the viewer is let know what happened beginning with 1879),this family's main and virtually only concern is how to make money and to belong to London's better half-subsequently by 1886 almost every member of this family is either a successful lawyer or businessman,major shareholder,landlord or other typically capitalistic entrepreneur.Of course the Forsytes are the typical products of Capitalism,their behavior being characterized by a mixture by thrift and lavish spending(both as a form of wise investing and increasing social influence),snobbery,collecting art and building impressive houses not due to aesthetic reasons but merely as an investment. But there are always several exceptions from this not so bright and profound,however socially very successful mentality:the "young" Jolyon-of the third generation of wealth in this family-who turns a not so respectable love-affair into a not suitable marriage and his cousin Soames who marries the strangely beautiful Irene,a woman from a poor social background,who doesn't love him. Therefore 1886 is not only the year when this family reached its pinnacle of fame and fortune,not only a symbolical year in British history(the year before queen Victoria's golden jubilee),but also the year when the traditional family values of the Forsytes start to crumble. Soames has certainly patriarchal and somewhat rigid views on family life,on a wife's duty,however he's not a tyrant or a pervert in a behavior towards Irene,he certainly worships her,however doesn't know how to express his affection.Irene,on the other hand,seems to me selfish,cold and ungrateful under her extremely beautiful and oversensitive crust-but maybe she isn't superficial,it's just the feminine mystery what makes her so unpredictable and difficult to please. However Soames is a true gentleman,capable of true love and generosity and willing to sacrifice everything to be loved.His tragedy is that he never gets the love he deserves and that not even his vast fortune can't buy love.First Irene,then his second wife and finally Fleur,his daughter,decades later,fail to give him the feeling of truly caring about him and appreciating him.While Fleur is the typical roaring twenties's flapper-spoiled,careless,choosing suitable marriage rather than true love,only for the upkeep of her fortune and status(even her name,along with her behavior remind of another famous twenties's flapper,Fitzgerald's Daisy Buchanan). The characters are faithfully depicted by brilliant,though not necessarily world-famous,actors,besides Soames,Jolyon,Irene and Fleur,also the performances of the old Forsytes being just like someone would imagine after reading the book. Watching this film I understood why it is considered as the best adaptation after a literary work in film history(and,in spite of being a T.v. production and the subject of a rich family widely used in soaps ,it is definitely not a soap-opera,but definitely an art-film).