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Cranford Collection (Cranford / Return to Cranford)

Lesley Sharp , Jodie Whittaker , Simon Curtis , Steve Hudson    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Cranford Collection (Cranford / Return to Cranford) + Wives and Daughters + North & South
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Product Description

Amazon.ca

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 Dalton


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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Drama for the Entire Family Feb. 18 2010
By Amazon Customer TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
Having long been a fan of Regency-era costume dramas that tend toward the romantic, my journey into the small English town of Cranford, circa 1842 ' with a passion for the smaller domestic dramas of life ' was a fresh and uncharted voyage. Based upon 19th century novelist Elizabeth Gaskell's work, this BBC mini-series is a conglomeration of Gaskell's adapted novellas; not only Cranford itself, but also My Lady Ludlow, and Mr. Harrison's Confessions.

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.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Feb. 1 2011
Format:DVD
What a delightful mini-series! Though I have never read Elizabeth Gaskell's novels before, I believe this movie would certainly do her work justice. The characters of Cranford are unique and eccentric in every way. Judi Dench is unrivaled in her portrayal of Miss Matty yet all the acting is superb. I highly recommend this movie if you enjoyed Wives and Daughters, Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Feb. 2 2010
By bookweasel TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
I cannot recommend Cranford enough. It is a wonderful drama set in a small town in the middle of Victorias reign. The sense of period is superb - almost a lesson in social history. The story has everything - humour, sadness, love, drama. A true classic.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In need of another series Feb. 13 2012
Format:DVD
One of the finest productions to come from the BBC. Too bad it ended with no second series. It is a must for collectors. It has drama and comedy and a mix that will leave you wanting more. There is not one weak performance in the lot. Dame Dench is superb as are all the cast, even those making brief but important appearances like Sir Michael Gambon. The costume design is worth the viewing as are the locations.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars CRANFORD SET Oct. 2 2011
By Duchess TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
We ordered this just recently on the basis of what others have said about this DVD set. This is the "Cranford / Return to Cranford" DVD's. While some of it was quite sad, we still got some good laughs and enjoyment out of it too. There are many good actors in these DVD's. It is another good one like what the "Lark Rise to Candleford" had to offer us (which also had its sad and glad parts). We like many of the period pieces as well, so I would recommend this to others for something fun to watch for a 'rainy day'.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cranford Collection Cranford/Return to Cranford April 12 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I am a fan of Judi Dench and BBC Dramas and this did not disappoint. I became totally absorbed with the characters and the storylines were very entertaining. I wish the series would have lasted longer. I enjoyed seeing the period costumes and detailed settings. The order arrived quickly from Amazon and the DVD's were packaged well and in excellent condition.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WONDERFUL! Feb. 12 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I didn't know what to expect when ordering this item, but I was more than pleasantly surprised. The acting is outstanding, and for anyone who likes period productions, you won't be disappointed with this package. Rally good!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Steel Magnolia's of Another Era Aug. 29 2010
Format:DVD
A wonderful story of the friendship, grace, strength and determination of the women of Cranford, England.
The cast is fabulous, witty and utterly charming.
The costumes and scenery are magnificent.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Sweet and Slow-Moving, Like Cranford
Though I tried--very hard--in years gone by to get into the novels of Elizabeth Gaskell, I never could, quite. "North and South" was my best attempt. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Oothoon13
5.0 out of 5 stars Cranford box set from Amazon delightful
I usually always enjoy any drama in this time period! I found Cranford and Return to Cranford warm, human, and delightful! Judy Dench steals the stage! Read more
Published 3 months ago by nanabetty
4.0 out of 5 stars Another quality BBC show
Cranford is very well produced and acted. Two seasons fit onto three DVD, plus some special features (I cannot believe their charming village is an actual, living city street! Read more
Published 3 months ago by Myron Wyles
5.0 out of 5 stars Cranford the collection
This series met all my expectations, along with humour that Judy Dench so sweetly delivers., I would highly recommend for good family viewing
Published 3 months ago by Penny
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
Wonderfully done fr start to finish. Great story, great acting(how could it not have...look at the actors involved!!), beautiful sets and scenery. Drama at its best.
Published 3 months ago by Wayne E. Redmond
4.0 out of 5 stars British TV Series
Love it. I love the time frame of these series, to see how it must have been like for folks back in the day.
Published 4 months ago by curlwyn
5.0 out of 5 stars TOP NOTCH!
We've watched this series several times and just keep enjoying it more and more. It's so well done, and the characters worm their way right into your heart. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Bevie45
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic series
If you're a fan of costume dramas, this is an excellent series for you. I've read some of Gaskell's writings. I found it tedious reading. Read more
Published 11 months ago by George Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Love the scenery and costumes for this era
The stories and acting are excellant plus the sets and costumes are done perfectly. A very well done historic piece that will keep you interested while you learn.
Published 17 months ago by Kathleen Henderson
5.0 out of 5 stars A funny lovable story
The Cranford stories are enjoyable and take us back to a comfortable time of great change. Anyone who loves period drama/comedy will like this video.
Published 19 months ago by Maureen A. Benny
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