Friday, April 18, 2008

Masterpiece Theatre: A Room with a View

Remember how back in January, I said that the new Persuasion adaptation was the worst Masterpiece Theatre program that I had ever seen? No more, it has been dethroned by A Room with a View. Now I will grant you that the book itself has some fundamental flaws, especially in the Christian sense, but Andrew Davies manages not only to mix in themes that are not really there, but even to add plot twists that change the overall feel of the story.

  • The cast. Overall, I found the cast to be fairly good. Elaine Cassidy keeps Lucy from seeming too naive while Rafe Spall adds some determination to George's love for her. The rest of the cast also managed to keep the basic feel for each character.
  • The locations. The Italian scenery was lovely, if not quite as breathtaking as one might expect, and Surrey seemed a lush and peaceful hideaway.
  • Kept the basic plot of the book, despite a few glaring exceptions.


  • A few not so great themes that were either not in the book or were extremely subtle were suddenly brought to the forefront.
  • Clocking in at under 90 minutes, this thing felt way too rushed (even more so than Persuasion). Many characters like the Miss Allens, Mr. Eager and Miss Lavish are not given enough script or time to really develop. It was a shame to see such great actors as Timothy West not given enough screen time.
  • Andrew Davies seems to have confused romance with bare skin.
  • The ending. Davies based the ending of this adaptation on a postscript written by E. M. Forester nearly 50 years after the book was written, and he even kind of screwed that up. Instead of the sweet, satisfying and happy ending from the book, we are left with one that is depressing and mysterious. (I really don't think that Forester envisioned Lucy falling for the Italian cab driver)

In the end, I was really disappointed with this adaptation. Though it certainly had a lot of potential (good actors, nice scenery, decent story) it ended up leaving me rather bored and wishing that I had gone to bed. Put simply, I was not impressed.

Note: There is another version of this story that was done back in the mid-'80s. I have not personally seen it, but it is considered very good by many, and was nominated for many awards.


Anonymous said...

I so agree! I came across your blog while trying to understand the ending--I certainly did not remember the WWI aspect from the original. Not to mention that, as you said, many of the more objectionable (but subtle) themes were pushed to the forefront for the "modern" audience. I guess I'll be renting the 1980s version in an effort to remove this one from my memory!

Anonymous said...

This was a very good review.

But I would like to point out that neither Andrew Davies or EM Forster's post script (was it called "View With Out a Room"?) were t very positive either. EMF's version mentions that both are conscience objectors to WW1. It is not Lucy, but George who revisits the pensione years later. And most horrifying of all: George is NOT faithful to Lucy but rather has an extra marital affair. I chose to ignore the post script completely and just chalk it up to Forster becoming bitter in his middle years.

Lepidoptera said...

After reading "A Room With a View" in my senior year of English (the British year, of course), the story has long been one of my favorites. The movie made in the 1980's is good too although it does have a scene or two where one might need to turn one's head. The MT production's ending was a great switch from the book and the earlier movie although I have never heard of this footnote until now and am interested to learn that this is not just something that Davies dreamed up all on his own.

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