- Actors: Janet McTeer, David Haig, Cathryn Harrison, Diana Fairfax, Peter Birch
- Writers: Patricia Hodge
- Format: Color, DVD-Video, Full Screen, NTSC
- Language: English
- Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Number of discs: 2
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: eOne Films
- Release Date: June 6 2006
- Run Time: 219 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- ASIN: B000F4RHBQ
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #74,765 in Movies & TV Shows (See Top 100 in Movies & TV Shows)
Portrait of a Marriage
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AN UNCONVENTIONAL MARRIAGE AND THE SCANDALOUS AFFAIR THAT THREATENED TO DESTROY IT
BRITISH ARISTOCRAT AND WRITER VITA SACKVILLE-WEST and diplomat Harold Nicolson married in 1913, and their love endured and deepended over the course of their 50 years together. Each, however, was knowingly and repeatedly unfaithful to the other, Vita most famously with fellow writer Virginia Woolf. But only one affair threatened their union: Vita's tempestuous liaison with her childhood friend Violet Keppel. This BBC drama is the story of that affair based on extraordinary literary biography by Nigel Nicolson, Vita and Harold's son.
Award-winning actress Janet McTeer (Tumbleweeds, Carrington) stars as Vita with David Haig (Two Weeks Notice) as Harold, and Cathryn Harrison (Clarissa) as Violet.
Portrait of a Marriage opens with deceptive calm-- a husband and wife working in a garden look up at planes flying overhead. But the planes are off to bomb Germany and moments later a phone call thrusts the wife--poet and novelist Vita Sackville-West (Janet McTeer, Tumbleweeds)--into a bittersweet reverie from the previous war. Five years into her marriage with Harold Nicolson (David Haig, Two Weeks Notice), Harold confesses his affairs with men--but swears his only true passion is Vita. She accepts this, but when her childhood friend Violet Keppel (Cathryn Harrison, Clarissa) arrives, the two women begin an affair. Soon Vita and Violet find themselves deeply enmeshed, traveling through the gay demimonde of Paris with Vita in men's clothes. The affair becomes all-consuming and starts tearing at Vita and Harold's marriage and the lives of their two children. Portrait of a Marriage practically bursts with revealing psychological details and startlingly steamy sex scenes--as Vita and Violet's relationship grows more carnal, so does the miniseries. But there's nothing casual or exploitive about it; the sex deepens the hold the women have on each other's hearts and leads to emotional pyrotechnics. The tension constantly thickens, made all the more complex because Vita and Harold genuinely love each other, regardless of their sexual longings. The vivid and meticulous recreation of the period frames the superb performances by McTeer, Harrison, and Haig. This four-episode miniseries from 1990, based on the biography by Vita and Harold's son Nigel, is yet another example of the BBC's mastery of literary adaptations. --Bret Fetzer
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Although I wanted a DVD format, I inadvertantly accepted a VHS format as per "Portrait of a Marriage". Unfortunately for me there is no simple way to contact Amazon and the problem is exacerbated since the article was supplied by Bigbilkofan. After gettting "spun-around" in a loop for some time I just sent the article back to Ray at Bigbilkofan.
Please advise if there is a phone number or specific e-mail address through which I can contact someone.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
for my DVDs library. I watched it again, and loved it as much as the first time. Janet McTeer as Vita Sackville is wonderful, A strong
lesbian at a time when being gay was not accepted at all, and people were forced into relationships that was not in their core. Vita is
lucky to find Harol Nicolson who was also living a double life. Their marriage though full of side affairs was strong and tender, Though
they had two children and Vita neglected both at times, she loved her family and their marriage endure. Her affair with her childhood
friend Violet threatened her marriage enough... and eventually survived through her strong will.
made account of
In the final 2 episodes disenchantment sets in as it did in real life and the story ends in Amiens, France (early 1920) in a fevered destructive climax. At the end the sheen has come off all the characters. I no longer cared much about Vita and Harold but was concerned about Violet especially and Denys who are left with a ruined future - we are not told what happened to them and they are not contextualised in the drama. The absence of Violet's powerful and famous mother Alice Keppel is a flaw as she was instrumental in the ending of the affair. The DVD includes a very short note about Vita but nothing about the others.
The post script is that Vita and Violet continued their relationship as far as they could until Spring 1921. Denys Trefusis sought a formal separation which would have brought the whole affair into the public domain (he was penniless and would need alimony I suppose but he was also seething from humiliation). Lawyers and matriarchs came onto the scene and Vita agreed, through lawyers, to give Violet up. Violet became bereft, lost and declassee or ostracised from high society - a great humiliation for her mother (Edward VII's discreet, clever mistress). She was confined and banned from contacting Vita. Violet and Denys eventually reached an agreement and went to live in Paris - the spoiled marriage turned into a fragile companionship funded by Mrs Keppel. Denys introduced the lonely Violet to the high priestess of arts and music, Princess Polignac and that love affair was tolerated because of its discretion. This enabled the brilliantly intelligent Violet (we don't see much of this in the TV series) to become classee in Paris's high society and in Florence where she inherited her parents' villa. She never married again but, after poor Denys died of consumption, she went back to her flirting girlish ways -even as a grande dame in Paris and Florence -and had many a male suitor as she did before she met Vita. Not many in France and Italy knew about her true past. There must have been a buried sadness - she knew that her ideal of love had failed; she lived the artificial facile life, albeit with an ironic eye, she had once so hated and became quite eccentric. But she lived in her beloved France. Her heart was French, she said. She once prophesied that her life would be one of waste. Maybe it was but she gave a lot of pleasure to her many friends. She wrote published books. And I take my hat off to her for getting through it all.
Vita and Harold lived in companionship and never had intimate relations again. Vita continued to have affairs and wrecked a couple of marriages on the way but managed to have an enduring mostly platonic, passionate friendship with Virginia Woolf. There is evidence that Violet and Vita felt the flame again in their middle age but desisted. The friendship was worn down by disappointment - both represented fallen ideals and wasted potential. Harold had his liaisons but they were never grand affairs. Vita became quite reclusive at Sissinghurst and her biography politely implies she may have liked the alcohol a bit too much in older age. She was ambivalent towards her children. She and Harold lived apart most of the time but their affectionate companionship endured to the end and Harold - a man of real substance with a raft of books to his name as does Vita - was left desolate when Vita died in 1962. The beautiful garden at Sissinghurst is the best portrait of their marriage. Violet was the last to leave this earth in 1972 -
"My heart was more disgraceful, more alone
And more courageous than the world has known,
O passer by my heart was like your own."
Shortly after Nigel Nicolson's book was published. London (and Paris and Florence for the 1st time) was aghast all over again. And now, here we are. Buy this DVD. It's honestly one of the best BBC dramas ever. Then, if still interested, buy the biographies by Glendinning and Souhami.