I have watched two versions of Lorna Doone, both based on the novel by R.D. Blackmore. The one that was produced in 2000 featured Richard Coyle in the role of John Ridd, Amelia Warner in the role of Lorna Doone, and Aidan Gillen in the role of Carver Doone. The 1993 production featured Clive Owen ad John Ridd, Poly Walker as Lorna and Sean Bean as Carver.
The 2000 production has a more intricate plot. The Doone Clan was born to aristocracy, but their lands were stolen long ago. Now they survive by raiding nearby farms and pay off the local Baron who is in charge of upholding the law for the Crown. John Ridd’s dad was murdered by Carver Doone in front of him when he was just a boy. In the 1993 production, Lorna was there. In the the story proceeds 12 years hence. John is fishing with his hands, slips and is taken down stream by the current where he nearly drowns. When he awakens he sees Lorna and realizes he is in Doone valley. He falls for her instantly, and she for him. She shows him a secret way out of the valley and just in time, because there is Carver, her betrothed, coming to bring her home. Now the two suitors are pitted against each other and Carver would sooner see her dead than in the arms of another. 2000 version, John Ridd meets Lorna while he is fishing as a boy and ends up in Doone valley. Then he goes there as an adult and she is fishing the same way as he was.
Aiden Gillen as Carver Doone
Sean Bean as Carver Doone the day he murdered Ridd's Dad...
and 12 years later.
The acting was far stronger in the 1993 version than in the later 2000 version. While I was watching the 2000 version, I was wishing that Carver would be more menacing and blood thirsty and I got that with Sean Bean who even gave the role a taste of pedophilia for good measure. What is not to like about Clive own as the vengeful love struck farmer John Ridd? Alternatively, I thought that Richard Coyle was wooden as John Ridd. Though in the 2000 version I did like seeing Michael Kitchen as Judge Jeffreys and Honeysuckle Weeks as Annie Ridd as I had loved them both in Foyle’s War (see the clip). The 2000 version lent a “fairly tale prettiness” to the story that seemed false to me. However, the 2000 plot was longer than the 1993 plot, as was the film and probably truer to the novel. So, now I have to go and read the goddamn book. Sheesh! Of course I have five books to read before it, so don’t hold your breath. One thing the 1993 version was lacking was sex. The 2000 version had some kissing, but the 1993 version only had one kiss at the end. Very frustrating.
Plus, the 2000 film is more available as it is on Netflix and on YouTube here. I had to buy the 1993 film on VHS from Amazon.
My rating for the 2000 version is
*** of five stars.
My rating for the 1993 version is
**** of five stars.