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Vanity Fair (amaray repackage)

Natasha Little , Frances Grey    DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
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Product Description

A&E and the BBC bring William Thackeray's classic satire to life in this lavish co-production.

In a culture obsessed with status, Becky Sharp---beautiful, clever and poor---is determined to earn her place in society. Her childhood friend, Amelia Sedley, enjoys the privileges Becky lacks, little realizing how fickle these blessings can be.

From posh London ballrooms and country estates to the battlefield at Waterloo, they pursue love and fortune in the self-absorbed world of the British upper crust. While the delightfully amoral Becky manipulates the men around her, Amelia's innocence and the vagaries of fate leave her at the mercy of others.

Brilliantly adapted by Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice) from William Makepeace Thackeray's masterpiece, VANITY FAIR faithfully preserves the bon mots and stinging satire that has made the novel one of the enduring classics of English literature.

BONUS FEATURE: English Subtitles


Becky Sharp is "poor and put-upon." She's also "a sharp little minx," a "treacherous little trollop," and "a heartless mother and faithless wife." Yes, there's something about Becky in this impeccable BBC production based on William Makepeace Thackeray's classic novel. It speaks volumes about Thackeray's indomitable heroine and Natasha Little's seductively ingratiating performance that our hearts go out to her even as we eagerly await her comeuppance.

Becky is scorned for her lack of breeding, but as one admirer notes, "she's got pluck." Poised to begin her new job as a governess, Becky's calculated social climbing begins in the home of her friend, the naive Amelia Sedley (Frances Grey), whose father is a wealthy merchant. She immediately makes a play for Amelia's doofus brother, but their budding romance is sabotaged by Amelia's fiancé George Osborne (Tom Ward), an "interfering, officious snob" who doesn't fancy a governess for a sister-in-law. And so it's out into the world, where Becky works her wiles on a gallery of memorable characters, including her lecherous new employer Sir Pitt; his imperious rich sister Miss Crawley (Miriam Margolyes), who takes Becky under her wing; and Pitt's dashing son Rawdon (Nathanial Perker), the first of Becky's misguided sexual entanglements.

Vanity Fair charts in lavish detail Becky's rise in London society and her scandalous downfall. Her story is counterpoint to that of the fair Amelia, who is clueless that her husband is a rake and that his best friend, the loyal, long-suffering Dobbin (Philip Glenistar), is in love with her and is her secret benefactor when times get bad for her bankrupt father. Adapted for the screen by Andrew Davies, who did the honors for the phenomenally successful Pride and Prejudice, Vanity Fair is another addictive miniseries that is the video equivalent of a compulsive page-turner. As yet another fancier remarks, "Well done, Becky Sharp." --Donald Liebenson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Becky, Andrew and William Jan. 7 2004
Andrew Davies is a very clever man with, I suspect, quite a tender heart. I don't know how he draws out these old novels for us the way he does, but he's done it again here. I have to admit, the first time I saw this production, I liked it, but was left a little cold. The second time I saw it, I knew it was just me, and that it takes a viewer accustomed to mediocrity some time to readjust to this kind of brilliance. The costumes and sets, in the hot Oriental colours of the real Regency instead of the too often misrendered pastels of the earlier Georgians, are well done and the acting and casting are great. Davies, cleverly, put some of the wry observations of the narrative passages into the mouths of the characters. "I must say, Dr. Hume, if a man's character is to be abused, there's nobody like a relation to do the business." David Bradley is old Sir Pitt is himself, in fact, the whole Queen's Crawley contingent will make you both laugh and squirm, just like they're supposed to. Janine Duvitski as marvelous as the ghastly, grasping Mrs. Bute Crawley. Natasha Little is luminously beautiful as Becky Sharp, her careless curls at unsettling contrast with her little smirk. Amelia Sedley is so wet you could ring her out (Thackeray predicted my criticism of her character, by the way) but Frances Grey plays her so well you admire her, as you do all of them, for just being the flawed creatures they are.
You will find the inhabitants of this fair very much alive and not at all like puppets, as Thackeray disingenuously tells you they are all through his book. The visuals well support the spirit of the production.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very Enjoyable Production of a Literary Classic Dec 28 2003
I have read "Vanity Fair" twice and intend to re-read this coming year. I remember seeing a BBC version with Susan Hampshire in the role of Becky Sharp back in the 1970s, as well as the 1930s Hollywood version with Mariam Hopkins on late-night television when I was a teenager. Now I understand that there is to be another Hollywood version, with Reese Witherspoon, of all the odd choices, to play Becky. Natasha Little is, in my opinion, an outstanding Becky Sharp, surpassing both Hampshire and Hopkins in the role. I cannot feature the vastly overrated Ms Witherspoon being able to give as subtle and natural a performance as Ms Little does in this A&E production. Ms Little is at once appealing and a monster, a woman "on the make"; in one very funny, and creepy, bit she is forced to turn down a marriage proposal from the coarse Sir Pitt Crawley, because she is already married to his dashing son. When Pitt Crawley leaves the room, it becomes clear that Becky would have married the vulgar old man for the security he offered had she been free.

The rest of the cast was very good, particularly the actors portraying Amelia, George, Rawdon, and Dobbin. There has been some criticism of the appearance of the actors, that they were too plain or even downright unattractive for the roles. One of the differences between British and American productions (particularly those made for televsion) is that in British productions the performers are more often selected for their talent than their appearance. Sometimes this backfires, as in the case of the remake of "The Forsyte Saga," when many viewers complained about Geena McKee being too plain for the role of Irene Forsyte, who was supposed to be a great beauty.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best television has to offer Nov. 30 2003
I read William Makepeace Thackeray's novel "Vanity Fair," the only novel of his I have read, back in February of this year. I was hesitant to do so at first because I heard many negative comments about the book from several people whose opinions I respect. I am happy to report that the book is a splendid novel, full of vibrant characters that soon come to feel like living, breathing creatures under Thackeray's masterful pen. The book was so spectacular that when I learned an American film version starring Reese Witherspoon is set to arrive sometime next year I looked forward to seeing it. Fortunately, an individual with fantastic knowledge about foreign films quickly alerted me to the existence of this BBC adaptation of Thackeray's masterpiece. Released over here in the U.S. by A&E, "Vanity Fair" runs for nearly six magical hours. The first time I watched this production, back in the summer, it took me only one day to view because I simply couldn't turn it off. I recently watched "Vanity Fair" again and realized I really ought to put this on my Christmas list because it is that good. I would start watching American television again if I could see productions of this caliber on a regular basis.
"Vanity Fair," set in the years surrounding Napoleon's resurgence in Europe, traces the rise and fall of two young British women, Rebecca Sharp and Amelia Sedley. The two young ladies meet in a sort of finishing school and when the time to reenter society arrives, Amelia takes Rebecca home with her to meet the family. The Sedley clan is comfortably upper middle class, with the father earning a nice living speculating on government bonds.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Fell short of expectations
This was a much touted mini-series which I missed on TV and have now watched on DVD. I had high expectations. Read more
Published on May 9 2004 by I. Martinez-Ybor
4.0 out of 5 stars Thackeray's masterpiece brought to life!
It begins on an innocuous afternoon at the Pinkerton school for young ladies, where Miss Becky Sharp (played by Natasha Little, whose father was a drunken drawing master) is... Read more
Published on March 8 2004 by randomartco
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible version
What can I say? Being a great fan of BBC and A&E period dramas, after buying Vanity Fair, I was truly dissapointed. Read more
Published on Dec 27 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother with it
I'm so dissapointed at this period movie, it was badly cast, terrible music choice, and boring. Also it felt so disjointed from start to end. Read more
Published on Dec 26 2003 by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Vulgar!!
Vulgar is the only word that completely describes this film. I have never been so sickend by a period movie. The first shot of the movie shows a woman picking her nose. Read more
Published on Dec 19 2003 by M. Moreland
1.0 out of 5 stars Depressing to no end
I have never read this book, but bought it based on other movies I enjoyed that BBC has done. If you like Charles Dickens, you might enjoy this, but if you are looking for... Read more
Published on Dec 18 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent adaptation
I truly enjoyed watching all 5 hours of this BBC adaptation of Vanity Fair. I found it as humorous as the original novel was intended to be. Read more
Published on Dec 16 2003 by Alison
1.0 out of 5 stars Hideous!
Vanity Fair is one of my all-time favorite novels, but while the book's wry social satire is perfectly crafted and executed, the translation to film was difficult to watch. Read more
Published on Dec 11 2003 by Little ol' me
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a great English Movie
I thought Vanity Fair was a baudry and cheap movie that lasted to long. I feel I wasted my money on buying it.
Published on Nov. 8 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable...
I have never read the novel of "Vanity Fair," however, I LOVED the DVD. Natasha Little stars as Becky Sharp a scheming (but oh so wickedly beautiful), governess. Read more
Published on Oct. 8 2003 by Serene Night
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