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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
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Product Description

Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 04/15/2008 Run time: 159 minutes Rating: Nr

The BBC adaptation of Anne Bronte's moral tale The Tenant of Wildfell Hall will be a delight to those who revel in classics brought to the screen. Tara Fitzgerald stars as Helen Graham, a secretive woman who seeks independence for herself and her son from her cruel husband, Arthur Huntingdon. Huntingdon, a rake taken with women and drink, is played to perfection by Rupert Graves, believable as both the young lover who seduces Helen and as the depraved and brutish man he becomes. Toby Stephens is Gilbert Markham, the suspicious yet adoring yeoman farmer smitten with the supposed widow. The scenery and costumes of this period piece are lush, although the use of flashback as a narrative device is at times jarring. This tale is darker than the Jane Austen adaptations that BBC audiences are used to, yet the two-part film has an ending satisfying enough for even the most cynical of romantics. --Jenny Brown

Customer Reviews:

  • The Tenant of Wildfell
    The BBC production of this Anne Bronte novel is excellent.
    Fine cast (especially Toby Stephens and Dame Judy Dench)
    I fully enjoyed this DVD. ...more info
  • Tennant Of Wildfell Hall
    Anne Bronte is an early proponent of women's rights. Although least known of the Bronte sisters Anne seems to be the most intelligent of the three. This is a wonderful story of a young woman who finds herself locked into a marriage with a very rich abusive husband, her struggles to escape his control & begin again in life as an independent woman. I would highly recommend 'The Tennant Of Wildfell Hall' to any Bronte/period piece enthusiast...more info
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
    I was not sure of this movie at first, but soon found myself drawn into it, I have quite a few BBC dvd and this one is up there with the rest, I have watched it a couple of times , and will watch it again.
    WRS...more info
  • Ends Well
    I enjoyed it, I didn't care for the sort of sexual overtones and some physical abuse. I think overall it was well done. Her husband the part was acted so well, I found myself saying How could that guy be so horrid? That's good acting when they get you to enter in the story....more info
  • It Has Its Virtues, But It Won't Be to Everyone's Taste
    "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall," a feature-length 1996 television costume drama produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation, was seen here on broadcast TV in 1997. It was based upon the little-known book of the same name, published in 1848, by the Victorian-era British author Anne Bronte. She is the least-known of the three famous Bronte sisters, all of whom specialized in moody works set on England's scenic moors, upon which they were raised. Emily Bronte, of course, gave us Wuthering Heights ; Charlotte,Jane Eyre. And some of us probably can't help thinking that were Anne not a Bronte, this work would neither have survived, nor have been adapted for television, as it's rather heavy going.

    It concerns Helen Huntingdon, in flight from an alcoholic, brutal, but wealthy and high-status husband, Arthur Huntington. She has taken her young son Arthur, and taken up residence, as the dour and mysterious Mrs. Helen Graham, in a rundown Hall on the moors. It's not long before a handsome young yeoman farmer of the vicinity, Gilbert Markham, takes an interest in her, and her son. It's also not long before malicious gossip about her begins to circulate around the isolated village to which she has moved.

    Much of the movie is set on the moors, and it has received the typical lush BBC treatment in the matters of location shooting, costumes, set decoration, carriages, etc. Unfortunately, while the camera whirls around and around, it doesn't succeed in making the production any less static. Mind you, I see where some other reviewers have complained about gratuitous scenes of sex and violence thrown in; but some of us may find them a bit of a relief. And the frequent flashbacks can be a major source of confusion.

    Furthermore, let's be perfectly clear about this: the underlying 1848 book was an important early proto-feminist document. I've not read it for many a year, but its filmed treatment lays out mercilessly the frustrating, restricted lives of women at that time, ranging from suffering under benign domestic tyranny, to their extreme difficulties in making independent livings, or living independently, to the fact that, upon marriage, a woman, her money, and any children she might have, became the property of her husband. On those grounds, book, and any treatment thereof deserve respect. But surely not affection.

    Tara Fitzgerald (Waking the Dead); stars as Helen: she's a beautiful woman, high of cheekbone; her beauty survives even a possibly historically accurate, but surely unfortunate hairdo. She's also a very likable actress; it was an excellent idea to cast her as the not-easy-to-like Helen, preachy, holier-than-thou, and severe. In fact, Helen can perhaps best be compared to the 20th century American figure Carrie Nation. Many of us may agree that Ms. Nation's heart was in the right place. She was a suffragist; she opposed the consumption of alcohol because she thought it had many undesirable results. And let's say we're in agreement with her: still,Carrie with her axe, laying waste to bars, in support of Prohibition,could not have been a pleasant sight. And, at times, Helen Huntingdon seems only to lack the axe. (So let us not forget that Bronte pere was a clergyman, and, in fact, must have been one tough old bird: in his seventies, one day, he drank down a bottle of brandy, then submitted to what must have been an excruciatingly painful cataract operation.) Well, anyway, a modern audience may have trouble deciding who'd be most unpleasant to live with, Helen; or her hell-bound husband Arthur. As beautifully played by the handsome Rupert Graves (V for Vendetta ); he clearly is dissolute, and will come to an early, bad end; but he's charismatic, recognizes his own limitations; gives every sign of having a sense of humor, even about himself. (It seems likely that the author modeled him on the fourth Bronte child, the only boy, Branwell. That weak young Bronte, son of a clergyman and in a household of brilliant women, was an alcoholic, an opium eater, and died at age 31.)

    Toby Stephens (Jane Eyre ) is a handsome, sexy Gilbert Markham, yearning to lighten up Helen and her life: he lights up quite a few scenes. And Pam Ferris (Rosemary & Thyme - The Complete Series) does good work as his mother, Mrs. Markham. As to the DePue subtitles report: thank goodness, the production has them, as you're getting all kinds of country accents. But the BBC has again made the subtitles rather tricky to access. This production has its virtues; but it wouldn't be to everyone's taste. It's not to mine.





    ...more info
  • Aghhh!!!
    I grew up in a valley with six large steel mills that worked 24/7 during WWII. The blast furnaces spewed ashes over the town several times a day, and we didn't know anything but smoky, smelly, overcast skies - except when it rained or snowed which cleaned the air for a while. But a few hours after the snow ended it became black from the ash. Not exactly the scene from a Christmas card.

    There were four sets of railroad tracks between our house and the river, and the trains ran all the time carrying war materiels. There was a lot of drunkenness, gambling, fighting, wife beating, and other violence. This is probably the real reason that blackouts and a curfew were imposed - to try to keep people under control.

    Georgie, my next door neighbor and best friend's mother was shot six times one summer evening by her drunken, enraged husband. Georgie and his two older sisters became wards of the state and I never saw them again.

    I tell you this because I have not recalled these events for many, many years until watching 'The Tenant of Wildfell Hall'. Thank goodness my gun was in the safe, or I probably would have shot out the TV. It's really that awful....more info
  • When hope is gone, a friend is around the corner
    At first there was a great marital relationship between the two couples. He refused to acknowledge that his wife had dignity. Her kindness and compasion was not important to him. He was very bold and ungrateful. Stolen from her happiness and feeling betrayed, forced her to leave the house with their son. I am glad this movie had a decent ending....more info
  • Wonderful story
    I throughly enjoyed the "Tenant of Wildfell Hall". It was a wonderful story with great characters. ...more info
  • Doro's Opinion
    I really enjoyed this one. It kept me guessing and held me to the end. I look forward to seeing it again. True to the English countryside and culture of the period, it is worth viewing many times....more info
  • cruelty vs. unrelenting love
    Wow, what an intense, dark Gothic romance! A mysterious, beautiful widow with a past arrives with her son to a nosey, judgemental countryside town. A past that is slowly unraveled with the pryings of a handsome, obsessed suitor.

    The actors are superb: Tara Fitzgerald(Helen), whom I simply adore as an actress, as the long suffering, fiel heroine with a lesson to learn and a son to protect, Rupert Graves(Arthur)as the depraved, never changing, rogue, 'Byron' whom she can't stop loving, and Toby Stephens(Gilbert) as the impetuous, immature, hero whom she wants to love, although cautiously.

    The director often shoots the scenes with sweeping, revolving panoramas about his actors, scenery desolate and wistful, the sets, costumes, and locations simply captivating and fitting for the mood.

    For whatever reason, I've always favored Anne, the youngest of the talented but tragic Bronte family. She watched as three of her sisters including Emily, die from disease, her mother probably from uterine cancer and her 'shamed-the-family' brother deteriorate from alcohol. Anne died in her 29th year. Her sister, Charlotte, died 6 years later at the ripe old age of 39.

    Anne loved to write poetry, but she also did two novels. Her first,'Agnes Grey', which I wish some enlightened soul would make into a great movie, was lighter than 'The Tenant' with some Jane Austen-like contrivances and humor. The story involved a governess reminescent of Anne's experience in child care. Charlotte didn't appreciate Austen and somewhat poo-pooed her 'baby' sister's work, but, nevertheless, took Anne's idea of a governess and ran with it in 'Jane Ayre'.

    'The Tenant of Wildfell Hall' was Anne's jaunt into realism with a tough and disturbing tale about both the self-centerness of men who controlled everything in the world and the plight of women caught in their domain. It apparently shocked the Victorian moralists of the day to have a novel about a woman standing up to her husband, shutting the sacred bedroom door to him and doing whatever to free herself.

    Anne ends the tale with a strong catharsis, and I would say an optimism (Austen-like? "Charlotte, just get over it!") that I believe represents her own determined and uplifting nature even in a difficult and short, earthly stay. The movie makers provide an ending keeping, I think, in the spirit of Bronte; however, the overall journey really stresses one out, but then is quite satisfying. Moral: choose your partners well.

    P.S. I'd appreciate any input/criticism from Bronte experts....more info
  • not a favorite
    Some times you win and really enjoy a movie this one I did not win. Not a favorite for me....more info
  • disappointing
    I found this movie "underwhelming" to say the least. The story was not well developed- it's going in the rummage sale box. ...more info