I’ve been going through my queue, so it’s time for another period film review 🙂
After watching “The Way We Live Now,” I decided to go through the Anthony Trollope BBC collection. Based on Trollope’s The Warden and Barchester Towers, “The Barchester Chronicles” follows the religious and political machinations underfoot in the town of Barchester.
While some of the older BBC series often feel like dated set pieces (this one was released in 1982), this one seemed as fresh as “Cranford”. And like “Cranford,” the characters are wonderfully developed–Mr. Harding is as sweet and endearing as Miss Matty.
I did not think I was going to enjoy the series after watching the first episode, but it was the dynamic between Mr. Harding and Mr. Grantly that captured my interest and made me stick to it.
The parallel between Mr. Grantly’s tantrums and Mr. Harding’s easy manner adds to the tempest in a teacup quality that drives the plot. Every move is a political move of great importance in Mr. Grantly’s estimation; he must have his way or else! Mr. Harding, however, is a man of great conscience and empathy–according to Mr. Grantly, it is his greatest weakness. What else must a clergyman be if not immune to empathy? Of course, there is a limit to the level of empathy that any man can possess, as is evidenced by Mr. Harding’s less-than-warm reception of Mr. Obadiah Slope–the sleazy chaplain played by a young Alan Rickman.
While I enjoyed the series, I cannot call it a favorite. I haven’t read Trollope and so can’t compare the series to the novels, but I find that it takes a little more effort on my part to enjoy the Trollope collection. The first time I watched “The Way We Live Now,” I stopped watching after the first episode and only returned to it a few months later because I forgot to remove it from my Netflix queue and received it. I didn’t make the same mistake with “Barchester;” though the first episode was slow, I convinced myself to keep watching and found that the slow start gave way to an interesting story.