Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Buccaneers- 1995

The Buccaneers 1995
The Buccaneers is a BBC miniseries based on Edith Wharton's last, unfinished novel. I count it as one of my favourite miniseries in my DVD collection. After perusing reviews on both Amazon and IMDb, apparently most viewers agree with me but a significant number do not. If you have not yet seen this miniseries, I will try to help you decide whether you will love it or whether you should skip this one.

Laura Testvalley and Nan St. George in The Buccaneers
The story, adapted from Edith Wharton's novel, follows four spirited girls from the Americas, ostracized by New York high society as nouveau riche, who decide to venture to London for “the season” to improve their chances of acceptance and marriage when they get back to America.  What happens, of course, is that they all end up making matches in England and mayhem ensues...

Carla Gugino as Annabelle St. George (Nan) in The Buccaneers
Let's just say for starters that this is NOT Jane Austen.  Although the girls start out as fresh naive teenagers out to conquer the English aristocracy, what they encounter when they cross the pond comes as a bit of a shock to them. Rather in the manner of Lady Diana, these girls thought they were marrying for love, and all but one of them found out too late that it wasn't that simple.

The Buccaneers in front of Castle Howard (or Longlands, the seat of the Duke of Trevennick)
So prepare yourself for a Victorian soap opera (and I love a good melodrama I must say) including adultery, homosexuality, syphilis, domestic violence and all manner of bad behavior.  This story is a pretty good taste of what was actually happening in England in the late Victorian age, portraying marriages of convenience with American money meeting English titles and estates.  Some of these marriages ended happily but many did not and there was no shortage of scandal.  If you are interested in the history of this time period, the marriages of Consuelo Vanderbilt/Duke of Marlborough and Jenny Jerome/Randolph Churchill were the models for Edith Wharton's characters.

The Duke and Duchess of Trevennick- The Buccaneers
So if you like your period drama a bit less gritty, then give this one a pass. If you are interested in how many of the upper classes on both sides of the Atlantic really lived in the Victorian era, then you will be transfixed. Plus the scenery and the costumes are heavenly. Castle Howard is used for the country home of the Duke and Duchess of Trevennick and it looks like they had full use of the house when filming.

Nan and Guy- The Buccaneers
As a personal note, I gave this miniseries to my sister a year ago and she still has yet to watch the entire thing. So this is really an appeal to her to watch it, or pass it on to one of her period drama loving friends who will adore it as I do! Perhaps when she watches it she will leave a comment below to tell my readers how she liked it?

By the by, does not Greg Wise look quite heavenly in the white tie and tails and the magnificent mustachio above? (Michael Kitchen is pretty easy on the eyes as his father too if you like your men a little older). And if you can't picture yourself swishing around in one of those amazing dresses, then you are on the wrong blog!

P.S. If you would like to watch this online (although it is well worth owning), the website Enchanted Serenity of Period Films has a list of period dramas online here and it's under YouTube Playlist 1. The whole website is a treasure trove of period drama and although Cheryl is no longer updating it, she's keeping it online for us. Thanks Cheryl!

18 comments:

  1. If your taking a pole. I loved the Buckaneers.

    But my all time favourite (which I saw on your recommendation) is North and South. I've seen a lot of period drama before and since, but North and South has set the bar pretty high:)

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    1. As usual Olga, your taste is impeccable. I can't argue that this one is not in the category of North and South but I'm glad you loved this one too!

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  2. It's streaming on Netflix - yay! I just watched the first episode, and I'm intrigued how it will all play out. The costumes and sets are gorgeous. And it's so nice to see Connie Booth again - I loved her as Polly on Fawlty Towers!

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    1. I think this was Connie Booth's last acting job before she ended her acting career to become a psychotherapist in London. I loved her in Fawlty Towers too.
      Let us know what you think when you see the ending!

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  3. This one is a movie that I put under the heading "Must See Once". It was well done and interesting, but I am not in love with it.

    I am definitely visiting the website with the movies. Thank you!

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  4. I've seen the series and generally love period drama's and Edith Wharton. While I liked some of this one, mainly the story of Nan and Guy I didn't like Conchita, she was too over the top and felt too modern, her acting also seemed to much like acting; it didn't seem natural. But I haven't read the book, perhaps that's her character? I'm curious if they will ever re-adapt it and if I might change my mind or have the same opinions.

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  5. I just saw Carla in Mr. Popper's Penguins. She has aged beautifully.

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    1. She is one of the most beautiful women I have ever laid my eyes upon. My God! What a divine creature! Simply exquisite.

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  6. I watched this when it first aired and have been wanting to rewatch it ever since. You're right--grittier but more realistic than the typical period fare.

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  7. Seeing as this came out in 1995 - that means that it's been over 15 years since I've seen it? Time for a re-watch indeed! Loved Carla in this and have been wanting to revisit it for a sense of what Lady Cora Grantham experienced in her London season before she married Hugh Bonneville!! *sigh*
    I also liked seeing Michael Kitchen and Cheri Lunghi's plotline!
    P.S. Thanks for mentioning the blog!

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  8. Dear Jenny:

    Well, the next time you refer to The Buccaneers, you can tell your readers that I finally got through the entire series (I don't know what my problem was with this during earlier attempts to watch it ...) - I think that keeping the Cora Grantham character (from Downton Abbey) in my mind as I watched this really helped with the perspective. The trading of monetary wealth from the American girls for the titles and houses of their husbands from the British nobility was fascinating to watch. They really were business deals!

    Now, on to another period drama ...

    Cheers,
    Big Sister

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  9. One of my favorite miniseries of all time. I fell in love with it when I first saw it over sixteen years ago. Just watched it recently and still loved it. For me, it's a great view into the late Victorian aristocracy, through American eyes.

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  10. I just watched this on Netflix!! I want to see more, more and more! Some need there karma others need deserved happiness!! Love it

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  11. I absolutely love this series. I watched it as a teenager in the nineties and was absolutely intrigued and fascinated by the characters. A few years ago I bought the series on DVD and still from time to time I just take the time to watch it again from beginning to end.

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    1. Hello Alesig
      Glad you love The Buccaneers too. I pull the DVDs out about once a year and rewatch. They livened up a dull winter for me this year.

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  12. What is the name of the house on the Thames where the girls spent the summer with Miss Testvally?

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  13. I love this movie especially because it is based on actual historical families. Real life, even today's, is as it is portrayed in "The Buccaneers"; we, as young women buy into the fantasy when marrying at so young an age, only to realize that precious few live happily ever after. I wish I had been given this book or this movie had been around when I was still in college; perhaps I would have had a better understanding of the reality of life in a marriage.

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  14. After watching the first part of the movie The Buccaneers, with an interesting plot and excellent cast it would be so nice to see the rest. However it is impossible to see the complete movie on the tube or anywhere else on the net, after a while the continuous search becomes such a waste of time.

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