Portrait of a Marriage (TV Mini-Series 1990)

TV Mini-Series   |    |  Biography, Drama, Romance


Episode Guide
Portrait of a Marriage (1990) Poster

Melodrama detailing the real-life love affair between feminist writer Vita Sackville-West and novelist Violet Keppel against the backdrop of post-World War I England and opposition by ... See full summary »


7.5/10
421

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Writer:

Patricia Hodge (developed for television in association with)

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1 September 2007 | melaniecurtis
10
| Excellent drama - highly recommended
This excellent television drama was only shown once so this release is very welcome. Watching this again in 2007 made me realise what a rare thing it is. It's actually quite brave and I can't remember seeing anything like it before or since it was shown. It's very well scripted and acted and it's extraordinary in terms of television drama. The other posts here give a good sense of the content. I just wanted to respond to the message of 7 November 2006.

While I agree with the author's points about the the depiction of Violet Trefusis, this drama is based mainly on Nigel Nicolson's book which includes Vita's own memoir and it draws from Glendinning's biography of Vita as well as Harold's, Vita's and Violet's letters. Vita and Harold are in fuller view than Violet. For instance, we see them in the context of their immediate families but Violet is not contextualised.

As far as I know, the producers took a hard decision not to complicate the story by adding more characters but, on the other hand, they concentrate on the affair with Violet and much of the rest of Nicolson's book is dumped. I do agree that Violet could have been drawn better (she fought hard at great cost for Vita) and I do feel that the exclusion of Violet's powerful mother, Alice Keppel (an Edwardian superstar) was a mistake. Nevertheless, the drama does an excellent job of bringing the main protagonists to life.

Of course there is some taking of dramatic licence but not to the detriment of the almost Gothic story. The story is true to the sources and much dialogue is taken from the letters. Yes, there are sex scenes but I wouldn't say too many. Both Vita's and Violet's records testify to the physical side of their relationship and, after all, this was one of the drivers for their attempts to get out of the UK.

As a result of my own viewing of the DVD, I felt compelled to find out more about Violet because I found her the most intriguing character -because of the absence of information. The drama does not tell us what happened next, we only see Vita and Harold going safely home. Anyone who is interested in Violet can find books available on Amazon - her life story makes for a compelling read (see Diana Souhami's biography); there are excellent books too on Vita and Harold (and all were authors in their own rights). Only Denys's story has yet to be told in any detail.

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