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  • This production is so underrated. It made me want to re-visit the novel, which had originally been a very frustrating read.

    Hughes does a wonderful job developing and finishing the plot. Using Dickens' Bleak House and Our Mutual Friend as a guide, its likely that the Drood story was left less than half finished. I found the film ending satisfying and quite Dickensian in its use of coincidence and secret family ties.

    Among a wonderful cast, Matthew Rhys makes me want to re-watch the film. His John Jasper is wonderfully horrible, a great anti-hero. Bravo!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I haven't read The Mystery of Edwin Drood yet and it has now moved up the list of Dickens books that I want to read. I'd love to see where he left off and where the screenwriter had to fill in the gaps. From that standpoint, I have nothing to say about how this production was adapted.

    This was a brilliant production, however. Matthew Rhys was astounding - at the beginning of the first part his character had some moments of charisma (well, one, perhaps when he was singing to the choir and demonstrating flat and sharp keys) but this didn't last when he spiralled downwards into his obsessions and became a truly awful character but very sympathetic at the same time. Truly rounded.

    On an aesthetic note, some costume dramas have distractingly bad hair (I loved Sandy's Welch's Jane Eyre but Toby Stephen's hair was not good for example) - 'Drood' has none of this - I completely believed everyone's appearance and was not distracted by poor hairpieces for once (minor point but I wanted to praise that aspect!).

    Another notable point about this production was the sound. It was more creative than any other costume drama I can remember - some of the audio had me guessing whether they were original sound recordings from the church or a post-production echo chamber - I really couldn't tell the difference. Then the audio-montages that accompanied the more drug- induced scenes were creatively mixed and really took me into the aural world of 'Drood'.

    I absolutely loved this. Thank you once again, BBC.
  • The Mystery of Edwin Drood is both captivating and frustrating, captivating in its tension and suspense as well as the titular character and frustrating in its incompleteness. This adaptation is not perfect but does nobly with its source material. It does suffer from incompleteness(the book doesn't help) and its contrived and abrupt ending. But it is very handsomely filmed and remarkably authentic to the period it's set in, while the score is unobtrusive and hauntingly beautiful. The dialogue is carefully and intelligently adapted, making an effort to sound Dickenesian and not too contemporary, also nobly developing the characters in rich detail. The story is tense and suspenseful, with some good twists and turns and very compelling storytelling, more so in the first half admittedly. It is a very well-performed adaptation too, Matthew Rhys steals the show, intense and heartfelt it is a brilliant performance. Freddie Fox shows command of the Dickenesian language, Tamzin Merchant is appealingly pert and Rory Kinnear, Ian McNeise, Julia MacKenzie and Alun Armstrong turn in strongly dependable performances too. In conclusion, solid and very well-done especially for the performances. 8/10 Bethany Cox
  • THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD is the second of two Dickens adaptations that the BBC showed over the New Year 2011/2012. The good news is that it's a damn sight better than GREAT EXPECTATIONS, being noticeably more 'Dickensian' in feel, with plenty of amusingly monkeyed supporting characters. The hilarious scenes involving churchyard urchin Deputy are alone better than anything in that other awful production.

    My viewing of this one benefited from not having read the famously incomplete story that Dickens died during writing. It's split into two instalments, and the first does admirably well in setting up the chessboard of characters: Matthew Rhys (BROTHERS AND SISTERS) is great as the sweaty and sinister Jack Jasper. Kudos too for the familiar character actors fleshing out more minor roles: Julia McKenzie, Ian McNeice and Alun Armstrong all acquit themselves well, and Rory Kinnear (FIRST MEN IN THE MOON) seems to be going from strength to strength.

    What a shame, then, that the second part just doesn't hold up. It's clear that this segment wasn't written by Dickens, instead completed by the scriptwriter. The ending is particularly bad, hinging around one massive plot hole/contrivance (a character appearing from nowhere at just the right time) that it's impossible to ignore. Way too many twists are attempted in this latter part so that it feels muddled and ludicrous, nothing like Dickens at all.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I just finished watching this film for the second time--and it is a film with production values equal to anything you could pay to see in a theater. I'm a former Dickens buff who gradually turned my attentions to Wilkie Collins; and what many reviews fail to mention is the extreme likeness between this 2012 adaptation and The Moonstone, the "crossing-over" of Dickens from crowd-pleaser to a man who might just have written one final novel for his own pleasure (as his former friend Collins always seems to have done). There is no shame in the character of John Jasper, something Matthew Rhys reveals with restraint. Rhys is excellent in being his very own doppelganger, to the extent that the viewer wonders if opium actually prevents his Jasper from being even more malignant. He deserves attention at awards' time for his portrayal of the nauseating convergence of guilt and agony.

    Ms. Hughes' strength *is* Jasper, whom she knows is a descendant of the striving middle-class hypocrites that Dickens was so good at, beginning with Jonas Chuzzlewit, then (most famously) with Uriah Heep, and--right before The Mystery of Edwin Drood--most menacingly with Bradley Headstone. As another reviewer points out, Rhys' Jasper captures the sexual menace of Headstone in a creepy, truly frightening, way. Of course some of Ms. Hughes' twenty-first century sensibilities are evident in Jasper's open sexual aggression toward Rosa, but the viewer can't help but suspect that this honesty would have been EXACTLY what Dickens would have wanted, if he had lived to finish the work. Years ago, a critic said that the novel had a feel of being written from beyond the grave. It is a palpably autumnal work that can make a reader or viewer wonder if Dickens' death was caused by his inability be as frank about the sexual aggression of his anti-hero as Wilkie Collins never had any trouble being at all.

    Hughes has an unerring instinct for what is and isn't Dickensian, including the recurrent--and disturbing--older man/younger woman couple (Crisparkle and Helena), the village idiot politicians, and the cruelty of the class system. This novel is set in a Hardyan place, and so there are no Southwark Nancy's or abused Jo's. Hughes showed a sensitivity to the thematic Dickensian staple--London--by making the character Edwin Drood perhaps more racist and callous than Dickens would have made him, thereby bringing sordid London into the countryside. Freddie Fox' portrayal is a pretty raw portrait of the Dickens' "cad."

    Shame, that this movie has not received the media and academic attention it deserves, because this was clearly a labor of love. Bravo--a perfect 10.
  • "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" was Dickens's last novel, famous for being left unfinished at his death, so producing a film adaptation is always going to be a speculative undertaking, as nobody is quite sure how Dickens intended it to end, although there are a number of theories.

    The title character is a young man from the cathedral city of Cloisterham, a thinly-disguised version of Rochester. (The film was shot on location in that city). The plot revolves around the strange triangular relationship which develops between Edwin, his fiancée Rosa Bud, and his uncle John Jasper. Edwin has been engaged to Rosa since they were both children, as a result of provisions in their father's wills, but neither seems to have much passion for the other. Jasper, the opium-addicted choirmaster of Cloisterham Cathedral, is secretly in love with Rosa, although she does not return his love. A further development comes with the arrival in Cloisterham of the twins Neville and Helena Landless from Ceylon. In this adaptation they are of mixed race, although their racial origins are not indicated in the original book. Neville finds himself attracted to Rosa, and he and Edwin fall out with one another. Another important character is the clergyman Septimus Crisparkle.

    The "mystery" to which Dickens alludes in his title is the sudden disappearance of Edwin. It is presumed that he has been murdered, although no body is ever found. The novel in its unfinished state offers no definitive solution to the mystery, so the writers of this version have had to come up with their own. (I won't say what it is).

    The film was made for BBC television, and falls within the long British tradition of visually attractive costume drama, a tradition which is even longer on television than it is in the cinema. (Feature films of this type were rare before the late sixties and relatively uncommon before the eighties). It is a good example of ensemble acting so I won't single out any individual performances. Like a number of recent adaptations of the classics it is used to put over a modern perspective on history; the Landless siblings are used to raise some points about colonialism and racism in Victorian society. (Edwin's initial dislike of Neville is partly based on race prejudice).

    It is, of course, anyone's guess whether the new ending is the one Dickens intended; literary buffs may suspect that it is not. The film-makers have, however, at least come up with something that makes sense on its own terms and comes across as a seamless whole; it would be difficult for anyone not acquainted with the novel to guess which parts of the story are Dickens's own and which the invention of the scriptwriter. The film is required viewing for any Dickens enthusiast and an entertaining period drama for anyone else. 7/10
  • Lejink1 February 2013
    This recent BBC adaptation of Dickens' unfinished final work for me takes too many liberties with the tale. Not for the first time of late in a TV Dickens adaptation, one suspects the hand of political correctness rather than imaginative casting in having the Landless siblings played by black actors. It only serves to make the nascent love scene between Reverend Crisparkle and Miss Landless seem the more awkward especially in the context of the time in which it is set.

    While there is melodrama in the plot, a Gothic over-dramatisation is applied, especially when John Jasper "has one of his heads", a cue for unusual camera placements, distorted shots and mad-scene background music. It also disobeys the golden rule, which even Hitchcock acknowledged, of never using a flashback that lies. The invented ending, which plays on the title of the piece, made me wonder if the writer hadn't had a hookah or two of opium before putting pen to paper.

    As for the acting, I found some solace from the scenery-chewing of the leads in the supporting parts of Durdles, Brossard and young Deputy. No offence to the actress playing Rosa but one can hardly imagine her freckled, girlish demeanour inspiring the passions it does here.

    In short, I found this production overdone and undercooked at the same time and rather think the BBC for once failed the great writer in this particular version of this tale.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The Mystery of Edwin Drood starts with an arranged marriage between Rosie and Edwin watched enviously by Edwin's uncle John Jasper the restrained choirmaster who wishes to posse Rosie and in the dark of the night frequents opium dens. I loved the contrast between the upstanding choirmaster and the sinister side of Jasper who was played beautifully by Matthew Rhys who I hope to see again soon. He was the true star of the television programme but I also enjoyed the performance from Freddie Fox and Tamzin merchant who played the part of Rosie extremely well! Though Hiram Grewgious's assistant and Durdles were at times a screen stealer's. I found it extremely enjoyable and I believe the transition between the true Charles Dickens and the screenwriters was seamless. The ending where Jasper wasn't the killer of Edwin junior I think was true form for a drama where it would have been too simple for me anyway for it to have been anything less! The drug induced dreams and opium den scenes were well mixed with scenes of normality of a choirmaster which was interesting. Overall I thought it was pulled off very well and I thoroughly enjoyed it especially the scene were Jasper believes Edwin to be a ghost thanks to his drug-addled mind was wonderfully played as well as the scene where Jasper tells Rosie how he will pursue her to the death was creepy and well-acted. I would recommend this and I'd like to thank the BBC for yet another awe-inspiring period drama and for finishing a Dickens so wonderfully!
  • Some people seem bothered because two of the major characters are non-white. Their problem.

    I found the characters all very convincing.

    I was also impressed by the way they gave an entertaining and surprising ending to the various mysteries.

    Quite possibly the ending Dickens had in mind
  • Yes, "Mystery" does vary in tone from other works by Dickens but not nearly to this extent. The whole movie plays like a sweaty dream induced by a night of heavy eating and drinking. It utterly lacks the feeling of concrete reality that Dickens somehow evokes even as he spins ludicrous tales.

    Not a single character feels like a real person with a real life beyond what appears on screen and a full range of emotions. There's never a hint that the choirmaster runs a choir, or that the lawyer has ever handled a case or that the schoolgirl has any studies.

    The very talented Matthew Rhys is wasted on a role with only two notes, hatred and self pity. But it's still the deepest role in the show. None of the other characters has more than one characteristic and many of them have none at all. Oddly, despite this lack of personality (or perhaps because of it) all of the characters are unlikable. There's no one to root for in the story.

    To make up for the lack of character, there is mood, lots of mood, hitting you in the face again and again with dream sequences and funny camera angles and music that is supposed to make us fearful in moments that are not scary to anyone older than 5.

    The production isn't even technically competent in a way you'd expect of the BBC. Rhys, who is great with accents and can surely do an English one, frequently reverts to his native Welsh. In one scene, they say the Lord's prayer as "Our Father, Who art..." rather than "Which art," which would have been used in Victorian England. It's a miracle a car did not drive through the background in one of the scenes.

    The worst adaptation of Dickens I have ever seen.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Usually BBC adaptations are outstanding; this one lacked something. As it is Dickens unfinished work it is hard to know if it was a failure on his part in the overall conception or whether the writer and director of this version just was not able to intuit where Dickens was taking this story.

    The acting is good and Mathew Rhys (Brothers and Sisters) is suitably menacing as the opium raddled John Jasper. Freddie Fox is also good as the eponymous Drood, spoiled and totally self absorbed.

    The arrival of the Ceylonese brother and sister provides one of the more interesting plot possibilities, but somehow the anger of the brother is never that convincing.

    In the end, watching the final climax, it was possible to see exactly how it was going to end, and it ended as predicted. There was a feeling of, 'oh is that it?' A missed opportunity or maybe the book was never really worth finishing.
  • I have to say that if you like the novel, you need to see a Russian version year (1981) of four part TV series of " The Mystery of Edwin Drood". The movie is great and explores in depth Dickens' characters. The cast of actor cannot be better! The music composed by the Russian Composer, Eduard Artemiev is absolutely enchanting. To watch the sample episode and listen to Mr. Artemiev music , please go here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WG5N7J9kJbw

    I am sorry the movie is on Russian language. However, you will be very surprised how well it is made.

    If you would like to see a full version of four parts of the movie, please click here, for the part one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLW_3ESsZIg

    As for this BBC production, I find it somewhat hard to watch. The entire story seems to be very compressed for the time allotted. The cast of actors are mediocre, except for Matthew Rhys. Perhaps, I am coming from a standpoint of someone who has a comparison of the two different productions.