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
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
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.Read more ›
Amelia Sedley (Emmy to friends), a sweet and innocent young lady, trusts that her friend Becky is as honest and true as she herself is; but it is just not so. Becky is envious of her friend Amelia's good fortune and privileges, and does everything she can to attain those things for herself.Read more ›
Yet..... there is a flatness about the whole production that keeps the emotions, the humor, at arms length. Becky Sharp remains the same, looks the same, inflects the same from beginning to end. The direction reveals no development, no nuance..... certainly charming rapaciousness is more varied than we are shown here. The script is not particularly memorable.
BBC production values are top-notch except in the repeated use of extreme closeups to mask a penny-pinching budget..... the Belgium battle segments are particularly cheesy...... but overall, things are shot handsomely, and some visual commentary is downright witty e.g., pigs crossing the frame as we approach the Crawley manor. The music score, hilarious and anachronistic, is rather refreshing.
This is nowhere as exhilarating a show as the BBC's Pride and Prejudice. Which leads me to the odd realization that perhaps the better writer for Vanity Fair would have been Balzac. Now.... why doesn't somebody do something with his stuff..... Lost Illusions, for example. There we have meatier stuff.