Of all of George Eliot's novels, all of which are at least worth reading, 'Middlemarch' gets my vote for personal favourite. It's an incredibly rich story in detail and emotion and the characters are human and complex, though some like Casaubon are purposefully not very likable.
And what a brilliant adaptation this is, an example of how period drama adaptations should be done. It's even better than 2002's 'Daniel Deronda' and that was fabulous as well. Both share the same virtues but 1994's 'Middlemarch' for me is a little bit superior because the ending is far more satisfying (if not as bleak as the source material). Can't say anything bad about this seventh, and final, episode once again, though all seven parts are consistent in brilliance. 'Middlemarch' from a visual stand-point is of very high quality to look, the locations are just splendid, the costumes and period detail very authentic with an eye for detail and the series is wonderfully shot as well, simple but not simplistic and expressive but not overly-elaborate.
Music is sensitively orchestrated and understated, not sounding out of place whatsoever. The writing is as rich and human as that in the book, the social commentary strongly emphasised without falling into the trap of swamping things. It also is delivered naturally, has a sense of structure and flow and is adapted intelligently.
Like the previous parts, episode 7 is very faithful, and the constantly riveting storytelling is layered without trying too hard or feeling bloated. It is easy for a faithful adaptation to be bogged down from being too faithful or trying to do too much, 'Middlemarch' doesn't do that. The pacing is relatively slow and deliberate but the adaptation benefits from that.
As anybody who's a fan of the book would argue for a book as detailed as 'Middlemarch' is that that kind of pacing is needed so that it all makes sense and has time to breathe and resonate. The direction is controlled and subtle, doing nothing to undermine the drama within the story, and the acting is excellent from all.
Robert Hardy in particular is a joy to watch, and Pam Ferris also seems to be having a ball. Juliet Aubrey plays Dorothea with strength and passion though the wild streak may take some getting used to.
Douglas Hodge is appropriately dashing and idealistic and Rufus Sewell full of brooding charisma. Judi Dench's voiceover as Eliot herself is very sincere.
All in all, couldn't have been a better end to a period classic. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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