Friday, July 25, 2008

TV Review: Scarlett (1994)


Part 1

Scarlett (1994) was a TV miniseries continuation of Gone With the Wind and was based on the novel by Alexandra Ripley. Basically, Scarlett O'Hara (Joanne Whalley-Killmer) watches Mammy (Esther Rolle, great job!) die, visits her Grandfather Pierre Robillard (marvelously played by John Gielgud), flirts to no avail with Rhett Butler (Timothy Dalton) and decides she belongs with her roots in Ireland.

Part 2

Off she goes, and there meets up with Father Colum O'Hara (Colm Meaney) a generally good egg who harbors a secret crush on her while he traffics guns for an Irish secret militant society. He becomes her local mentor, escort and guide. Enter the evil Lord Richard Fenton (Sean Bean). He has seduced a local girl and pays her for her services, rapes her, then discards her when she tells him she is pregnant with his child. Lord Fenton courts the beautiful Southern Belle Scarlett, the likes of which he has certainly never seen before, and impresses her with his gentlemanly British politeness, and dashing manly charms. He gains her trust over time, eventually luring her to his bed.

Father O’Hara confronts Lord Fenton for money to send the girl Fenton impregnated to America to have the baby unless Fenton wants Scarlett to know he is the baby’s father. Fenton murders the priest to resolve these potentially scandalous issues. When Rhett’s new wife (Anne Hampton / Butler played by Annabeth Gish) dies of yellow fever Scarlett, with hopes of seeing Rhett again, tries to break off her liaison with Lord Fenton. This is not received well at all and Lord Fenton finally shows his true colors and rapes her. Unconscious from a blow, Scarlett wakens to find Lord Fenton stabbed to death. She is then charged with his murder.

Will Rhett be able to prove her innocence and save her from the hangman's noose?


You can tell from watching Scarlett that big bucks were spent on this miniseries as far as locations, sets, costumes and props. The story and plot are alright, but these were tumultuous times and some areas of controversy could have been better explored, such as the problem with freed slaves integrating into society and the Irish militants’ conflict with the British. I must say the juiciest role went to Lord Fenton, who is truly evil.

My main problem with the miniseries was the script and the acting. It was eye rollingly bad. Why does this happen with so many American TV miniseries? I just find myself listening to the lines and thinking ‘no one would ever say that’. Then there are the Southern accents. Okay, I am not a native, but I have lived in the South and I know what a true Southern accent sounds like. I could have done a better job than Annabeth Gish. Actually I felt I could have acted the entire part of Rhett’s second wife better than Ms. Gish. Let that be a testament to how bad she was not how great an actor I am.

I thought that Ms. Whalley-Killmer and Mr. Dalton were alright in their roles, but certainly not as memorable as their GWTW counterparts. They were both trying very hard and came across that way. Colm Meaney did a fine job but he is fine actor.

But for me, the show really began when Sean Bean took the stage. Of course he had the advantage of the most colorful part in the piece, but he played it to the hilt, releasing all the devilishness within himself. There are clips of his performance on YouTube, but they are in Spanish and you don’t get to hear his voice and accent and so much is lost by that. I suggest you rent it if wish to get the full treatment of his performance. He is superb as Lord Fenton the gentleman, but I am not familiar enough with British accents to say whether his upper class accent is good. It sounds good to me though. They do say of him that he is a master of accents. As I have said previously, he is so charismatic that I would watch him shovel dog shit. I hung on every moment of his scenes with Scarlett; both the ones where he was a gentleman and the ones where he was not. I just could not take my eyes off of him.

Thus we come to my final review of the film in its entirety. Part 1 was entirely forgettable and useless. Part 2 was all about Lord Fenton and the rest of the series could have been edited out. The movie ended for me with his murder. You would have to be a die hard fan to see this, but I am. Take that into account in my rating of this film. I give it

*** of five stars.


thonnibg said...

I`m probably too cuz I`ve seen it twice:)

Sue said...

LOL! Welcome to the club Toni!