Cranford Collection (Cranford / Return to Cranford)
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Cranford: The Collection (DVD)
Adapted from Elizabeth Gaskell's novels, the five-episode miniseries Cranford focuses on female characters in the 19th-century British town to thematically contemplate encroaching modernity in rural England. With the camera roving house to house, each drama within the grander story is constructed of scenes featuring dialogue between several gossipy ladies obsessed with moral code, romantic ideas about courtship, and social occasions. Three main characters, the ever-appropriate Deborah Jenkyns (Eileen Atkins), her sweet sister, Matilda (Judi Dench), and their younger, more savvy relative, Miss Smith (Lisa Dillon), continuously weigh in on situations, providing a dependable view when other ladies, like the nosey Miss Pole (Imelda Staunton) are too judgmental. In fine period dress, the women of Cranford remind the viewer of how little action was needed in their small-town lives to provide unceasing entertainment. The series' most intriguing aspect lies not in the ample female conversation but rather in its display of earlier technologies and ways of life. Part One, for example, quickly launches a main narrative thread that runs throughout the series, namely the arrival and assimilation of London doctor, Frank Harrison (Simon Woods), into village society. Dr. Harrison's medical practices, such as his refusal to amputate a man's arm because it's broken, are all the more radical because they are so fundamental by today's standards. In subsequent episodes, he recommends Miss Smith get spectacles to cure her headaches, and saves his love's life by cooling her fever after conservative doctor, Dr. Morgan (John Bowe), recommends the old school practice of burying her in blankets in front of a raging fire. In Part Two, Lady Ludlow (Francesca Annis) throws a garden party at her estate, treating all the women in their fancy hats to a new novelty: ice cream. This scene foreshadows Ludlow's future concern at a railroad plan involving her land that would connect Cranford to Manchester, symbolizing the ruin of this idyllic setting. In fact, fluffy and clever as some scenes are, death and rebirth assert themselves in each showing, both physically and idealistically. Part Four shows an auctioning off of a deceased man's antiques, and focuses on issues of class and women's education, as Mr. Carter teaches a peasant boy to read while his assistant fumes at her trappings as a seamstress. Part Five ushers in a new period of medical emergencies, securing Dr. Harrison's shaky position in town. In total, Cranford offers a powerful, if sentimental, look at how death begets life, love, and passion. --Trinie Dalton
The two-part saga Return to Cranford opens to a struggling Cranford, a traditional English village that in autumn 1844 is airing the conflicts that accompany progress. Miss Matty Jenkyns (Judi Dench), after having closed her business in the last series, is happily babysitting the child of her maid, Martha (Claudie Blakley). This gives the ladies in town something to gossip about, as does every other small event in this chatty group. The same women populate this new Cranford--the snooty Miss Jamieson (Barbara Flynn), nosy Miss Pole (Imelda Staunton), Miss Forrester (Julia McKenzie), Peggy (Jodie Whittaker), and Erminia (Michelle Dockery)--while a few new men added into the mix creates options for love interests throughout. In Part One, Peggy, visiting her dead father's grave, bumps into William Baxton (Tom Hiddleston), a young and dapper gentleman who becomes a central character in Cranford's growing divide between those who want a railroad coming through town and those who don't. While politics are sorted, scenes alternate between heated public debates and intimate domestic exchanges to make Return to Cranford as charming as the first incarnations of this historical drama. The emphasis on the ways the women in town navigate thorny social situations remains primary in Return to Cranford. Babies are born and the elderly pass away while the ladies busily decide what to make of it all. While Part One focuses on catch-up, showing where each crone stands on the latest current events, Part Two attempts more to challenge outmoded cultural values such as elitism and to show how the community members toughen up to become a courageous bunch. Unfortunately, Miss Matty discovers that solidarity is hard to come by in this small village, and Part Two is as much about a town falling apart as it is about ways to heal sore feelings and a violated landscape. Ultimately, life marches on in this pleasurably fictionalized glimpse into England's past. --Trinie DaltonSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The town of Cranford in the North West of England in 1842 is poised on the brink of change. Long governed by an unusually high population of older, single women, its culture revolves around propriety and social calls. The slightest hint of change in fashions, residence, or circumstance prompts a torrent of talk. Still, despite the oft-times virulent stream of misunderstandings and troubled times, Cranford is a town with deeply held friendships and strong loyalties.
Cranford: The Collection is a beautiful two-volume boxed set that includes both the original Cranford with five parts on two DVDs, and the two parts of Cranford: Return to Cranford on a single DVD. With each episode running approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes, this is no lightweight drama; Cranford: The Collection boasts a total running time of 468 minutes, excluding each volume's 'making of' segment with insights into the writing process, filming, period costumes, and more.
Performed by an absolutely dazzling cast of British talent, Cranford fairly soars on the wings of its talented ensemble. Peopled with many well-recognized actors ' Eileen Atkins, Alex Jennings, Michael Gambon, and many others ' the centerpiece of Cranford's heart is Judi Dench's portrayal of Miss Matty.Read more ›
The cast is fabulous, witty and utterly charming.
The costumes and scenery are magnificent.
Most recent customer reviews
I love that serie... it was recommanded to me because I liked the North and south and the Jane Austen series... pride and prejudice, sense and sensibility... Read morePublished 9 months ago by heid pears
Absolutely the best DVD series I have. The acting is supberb and the cast fit their roles perfectly. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Terry Hanson
So funny! Great characters and clean entertainment. Definitely would buy again.Published 14 months ago by LisaHD
So glad there was a second season to finish the excellent story. Bittersweet, a heart warming story with wonderful characters throughout.Published 14 months ago by E. Knight
Nobody does it like the Brits!!! The story, actors, costumes and location were all first class. If you enjoy quality programming then this one will not disappoint!!!Published 16 months ago by Stewart Corbet
I enjoyed "Cranford" very much. I always have found Judy Dench to have a great srory. She is a great lady and a fine actress.Published 16 months ago by Doris