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Tuesday, June 3, 2008


This three-part BBC version of the classic Emile Zola novel is far more faithful to its source than the famous 1953 movie (see below). And with its fine cast and feel for period detail, it indubitably packs a dramatic punch; the morgue scenes, an accidental confession, a small smile of contentment on the face of a helplessly paralyzed mother are all superbly handled. Yet with all its compromises, the earlier Simone Signoret/Raf Vallone version instinctively seasons its domestic horrors with a French slant totally absent from this ‘veddy’ British production. It makes a huge difference. Brian Cox, Kate Nelligan, Mona Washbourne, & Alan Rickman are all superb actors, but they can’t fully slip inside their roles.

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