Have always had a lifelong love for period dramas and adaptations. There are disappointments out there, both as book adaptations and on their own terms (the latter of which for me has always been a fairer way to judge), but with many classics. A distinction that applies to this adaptation of 'The Woman in White'.
When it comes to the adaptations of 'The Woman in White', it's this 1982 mini-series that is the definitive version from personal view. As an adaptation 'The Woman in White' is very faithful to the masterpiece that is the book- not that that is essential when it comes to adapting source material- without too faithful or bogged down, it is also the only adaptation of the book that does that. As a dramatisation it is outstanding and one of the better period dramatisations of the 80s.
After such outstanding quality with the previous episodes, the fifth and final part is ever so slightly rushed (which has been overlooked by me because everything else was so brilliant) but otherwise it is more than satisfying.
From start to finish, the episode's script is thoughtful and tightly compressed, often sounding like the writing being lifted out straight from the pages of the book, it develops the characters very well too. Particularly with Fosco being every inch the immoral person he should while still appearing to others as the opposite.
Storytelling takes its time to develop, but there is more than enough going on and with a lot of meat to it. All the themes and most situations are intact and with all the emotional resonance, and is not too tedious at all despite the deliberate pacing. The mystery and unease is handled extremely well.
Visually it is evocative with everything looking beautiful and in a way that you feel that you have been transported back in time to the time and place, a great atmosphere and fluid photography. It has been criticised on Amazon for being dated and poorly lit, that was not the case with me who thinks that it has held up well. The music is appropriate and lovely to hear. The direction makes the drama compelling and is sympathetic to the emotions that fill each scene.
The acting is superb, especially from a strong-willed Diana Quick, John Shrapnel at his most loathsome, Ian Richardson's memorably languid and authoritative Mr Fairlie, every bit a nervous wreck, and especially Alan Badel's unforgettably creepy while not forgetting the subtlety Fosco. Jenny Seagrove is simply enchanting while Georgine Anderson has the right degree of iciness.
Overall, couldn't have ended better. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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