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Product Description

Studio: Warner Home Video Release Date: 05/20/2008 Run time: 295 minutes Rating: Nr

Adapted from Elizabeth Gaskells' novels, the five-episode miniseries Cranford focuses on female characters in the 19th-century British town to thematically contemplate encroaching modernity in rural England. With the camera roving house to house, each drama within the grander story is constructed of scenes featuring dialogue between several gossipy ladies obsessed with moral code, romantic ideas about courtship, and social occasions. Three main characters, the ever-appropriate Deborah Jenkyns (Eileen Atkins), her sweet sister, Matilda (Judi Dench), and their younger, more savvy relative, Miss Smith, continuously weigh in on situations, providing a dependable view when other ladies, like the nosey Miss Pole (Imelda Staunton) are too judgmental. In fine period dress, the women of Cranford remind the viewer of how little action was needed in their small-town lives to provide unceasing entertainment. The series' most intriguing aspect lies not in the ample female conversation but rather in its display of earlier technologies and ways of life. Part One, for example, quickly launches a main narrative thread that runs throughout the series, namely the arrival and assimilation of London doctor, Frank Harrison (Simon Woods), into village society. Dr. Harrison's medical practices, such as his refusal to amputate a man's arm because it's broken, are all the more radical because they are so fundamental by today's standards. In subsequent episodes, he recommends Miss Smith get spectacles to cure her headaches, and saves his love's life by cooling her fever after conservative doctor, Dr. Morgan (John Bowe), recommends the old school practice of burying her in blankets in front of a raging fire. In Part Two, Lady Ludlow (Francesca Annis) throws a garden party at her estate, treating all the women in their fancy hats to a new novelty: ice cream. This scene foreshadows Ludlow's future concern at a railroad plan involving her land that would connect Cranford to Manchester, symbolizing the ruin of this idyllic setting.

In fact, fluffy and clever as some scenes are, death and rebirth assert themselves in each showing, both physically and idealistically. Part Four shows an auctioning off of a deceased man's antiques, and focuses on issues of class and women's education, as Mr. Carter teaches a peasant boy to read while his assistant fumes at her trappings as a seamstress. Part Five ushers in a new period of medical emergencies, securing Dr. Harrison's shaky position in town. In total, Cranford offers a powerful, if sentimental, look at how death begets life, love, and passion. ‹Trinie Dalton

Customer Reviews:

  • Duped!
    I really enjoyed the 5-hour BBC drama "Cranford" by itself and taken altogether as a whole, however I felt duped when I watched the additional "making of" documentary. The writers, producers, etc...admitted the whole 5-hour drama was a modern concoction or amalgamation with oodles of liberties. Even as they explain why they had to make adaptations to Elizabeth Gaskell's novellas, it didn't soften the blow.

    In summary, the television production is lush, lavish & rich with stellar performances by the entire ensemble. ...more info
  • Wonderful, Wonderful Movie...
    I absolutely loved this wonderful movie. The acting is superb, the storyline entertaining, and the period costumes and sets are very authentic. My husband watched the entire movie also - it is not just a "chick flick", but great entertainment for the entire family. I highly recommend it to everyone....more info
  • the best girl-movie!
    We loved it! This movie is long, but compares very well to a Jane Austen film. It has a few graphic scenes of medical emergencies, but otherwise is very family-friendly. Very sweet!...more info
  • Authentic from beginning to end
    I rented this series from the library, and my 15 yr old daughter and I were enthralled from the moment we started. We watched the entire first disc on saturday evening, and finished the second on Sunday. We were sad to see it end. Amazing, talented cast, and characters you care about throughout. The cinematography, the sets, the costumes are all fantastic. We loved it so much we watched all the editorials at the end... fascinating how the producer, script writer, costumer, art director all worked on the series. Recommend highly!...more info
  • Cranford
    One of the best series ever watched. Only England could do such a period piece - wonderful....more info
  • Judi Dench rocks!
    A delightfully different period mini-series. Judi Dench is great, as always and there are twists and turns, romance and tragedy in the town of Cranford where the women rule....more info
  • Charm Central
    One of the glories of recent television history, "Cranford" is thoroughly delightful. A story with overlapping plot points hinging on petty small-town customs, it has deeper undercurrents and themes, which underscore the universality of how tradition, the individual, and the larger world intersect. The universally flawless performances (something nearly unheard of in Hollywood productions) of the British cast, some very familiar, some much less so, with an exceptional screenplay cobbled together from several novels make for an experience that surpasses most period pieces. What at first seems to be a superficial satire of an isolated village overseen by a variety of small-minded elder women ruled by meaningless conventions and intentionally oblivious to the larger world becomes a story of how people adapt as a result of the personal and social forces around them, and how all this can bring out the inherent goodness in most people. This last quality is what is ultimately so rewarding. An optimistic and rosy-hued perspective to be sure, but it manages to be very, very sweet without making your teeth hurt. In other hands it could have been a silly, treacly, manipulative farce, as it incorporates elements of camp, comedy, and social satire as well as social realism and tragedy, but here it makes you weep and wish for more. ...more info
  • Cranford
    If you love 19th century bbc films then you will love this one.
    I loved it so much, I had to stay up late and watch the whole thing.
    Acting is superb and story line is great....more info
  • Judi Dench! Wows me again!
    I have not read the book, so I do not know how closely it is followed, but I loved this 2 DVD series. The characters draw you into their 19th Century lives. The absence of eligible men in the town of Cranford is the underlying cause of the story. The most heart wrenching scenes involve misunderstandings and class distinction-which I suppose is still prevalent in Britain today. Judi Dench is superb and I enjoyed seeing so many of the actors I have come to love from other BBC series. ...more info
  • Love it!
    Anyone who loves Jane Austin types of movies will love this one! Elizabeth Gaskell is awesome. Get Wives & Daughters as well as North & South by her, too. Love it!...more info
  • Wonderful!
    Great acting, great screenplay, great everything. Super mini series. I was astounded when I picked up the book and saw what Heidi Thomas had to work with. It's excellent. Elizabeth Gaskell would be thrilled....more info
  • Beautiful!
    "Cranford" is one of the best mini-series ever made. The characterizations are perfect, as is every other aspect. Buy this, you're sure to love it! ...more info
  • Delightful!
    I enjoyed every minute of this BBC mini-series. The characters were so well developed, the story lines were great, and the acting was first rate. (Judi Dench is wonderful). It's considered a period drama but there is a healthy dose of lighthearted humor mixed in, which in places had me laughing aloud. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves period pieces.
    ...more info
  • Fabulous mini-series!
    I can't recommend this movie enough. It is long and so engaging. Well written with great characters and well developed plot. This is a great movie if you are a fan of Jane Austen. Same sort of time period....more info
  • Hey: Cranford Doesn't Suck!
    Let me make something perfectly clear, OK? I'm a guy. Like most guys, my favorite kind of movie has plenty of action, with fights, car chases, explosions, hot babes, and violence, with a little blood or gore sprinkled in. So why did I give this one five stars? Let me try to explain.

    Going in, your typical red-blooded American male might be put off a bit; judging by it's cover, Cranford appears to be just another in a long line of boring English bonnet romances, full of people in wigs and weird clothes sitting around in parlours talking to each other. If you're looking for a testosterone-fueled trip through hell, a la Tarantino, Peckinpah or Woo, you might be disappointed. I waited and waited, but I could find not one fist fight, stabbing, shooting, rape, steamy sex scene, unexposed nipple or horrible murder in the whole dang thing!

    But gents, don't automatically dismiss this one: if you look, you will find a surprising amount of death, gore and violence: in one scene, a kid smashes in the skull of a defenseless rabbit. In another, a cat pukes up some hand-knit lace. And then a cow falls into a lime pit and gets all it's hide burned off. So I guess you could say that animals have a tough time in this miniseries.

    But the people have some rough patches as well. In the first twenty minutes the young carpenter Jem falls from a ladder and suffers a compound fracture of his right forearm, which is pretty gruesome. You wouldn't think that there would be many deaths in this one either, but it seems like people are keeling over every other minute. A very young kid dies of croup, a crippled young woman dies of who knows what, one of the main characters, Deborah Jenkyns (Eileen Atkins), strokes out, and the great Michael Gambon's character, the lovelorn Mr. Holbrook, contracts pneumonia and bites it before he has a chance to marry his long lost love, Mattie Jenkyns ((there is nothin' like a DAME) Judy Dench). The local shopkeeper Mr. Johnson is clubbed on the back of his head and robbed. A family of squatters is forced to live in abject squalor while the father must poach game to keep his family from starvation.

    There is a top-notch "babe" in the series too. Kimberly Nixon plays the young daughter of the local parson. She is a "pretty as a picture" actress, first-rate eye candy, a perfect rosy-cheeked beauty seemingly born for this type of film, who will have a long and very bright future in the many inevitable English period romances to be produced over the next ten years. I hoped and prayed for a scene of her swimming naked in a sylvan lake or even a brief glimpse of her in the boudoir, but alas it never happened. I guess you will have to use your imagination.

    Another huge negative: it appeared there were no "pavement princesses" or brothels in the town of Cranford. Or they chose not to show us. Damn!

    Nor were there coach chases, bloody shootouts, pub brawls, adulterers, adulteresses or dispicable villains in Cranford.

    However, you do get a lot of humor, color, poignancy, romance, emotion, beauty, magnificent costumes, fabulous photography, and wonderful character development and acting. With all that, I guess I can overlook the absence of fist fights and sex. I hate to admit that; it's not very manly of me, but it's true. Cranford did not suck. ...more info
  • I Loved Cranford
    This was a joy to watch. If you love period films you will love this one!Such great talent! I laughed and cried....more info
  • Cransford
    I became acquainted with Elizabeth Gaskell a couple of years ago. She was a contemporary of Charles Dickens. I really like the characters in all her books and the way she develops them.
    This movie is very heart warming and entertaining. Masterpiece Theater did a good job recreating this story....more info
  • The best!
    This was totally in the mould of the very best of BBC historical drama - painstaking re-creation of a real English backwater, the social mores and then lovingly painted with the characters. Loved every minute of it!...more info
  • Wonderfully adapted and acted
    Such an entertaining mini-series. You get so connected to the characters. There are some very sad parts (true to Gaskell style) and some amazingly funny parts. Well acted and extremely well written. Always a happy ending, which I love. :)...more info
  • Quirky period peice
    This is not your normal period bbc drama. All the way thru I kept on expecting french or saunders to pop in. each show is an episode in its own right, but there is also an overlaying plot. Judy Dench of course is the main character, and the young town doctor is very dreamy indead.....more info
  • Cranford
    Come to Cranford to see find out how the refined live.

    This movie is worth every minute of watching. Beautiful story with great characters. BBC at its best....more info
  • Chick Flick!
    Got the DVD for the wife. She loves it so I give it five stars....more info
  • Wonderful!
    This series is very endearing! There are some surprises and several character stories going on at once. All the actors are very good in this. It is so like the time period and I found it very humorous! Quite a joy for my husband and I both to watch!...more info
  • Cranford
    I enjoyed seeing the DVD. It is British and the subtitles helped understand what was happening. I especially liked the story....more info
  • Superlative
    I stumbled across this superlative BBC drama series which explores the trials and tribulations of a close-knit Victorian community in 1840's England. Excellent acting and many memorable characters. Comparable in quality to "John Adams". Highly Recommended.
    ...more info
  • Fantastic!
    Many good and thorough reviews have already been written on the movie but I wanted to just add my 5 stars to the rest.
    I've been buying period movies from time to time trying to find a classic like Pride and Prejudice (with Colin Firth), Wives and Daughters and Sense and Sensability (with Emma T) and I have been sadly frustrated with my purchases lately. Then I bought this and it was TOTALLY worth it. It was wonderful and I enjoyed every minute of it. Lots of different story lines intertwined and most come to a happy ending. I'm very glad I bought this movie and listened to the good reviews! ...more info
  • Put me in "Cranford"
    What an amazing simple, sweet , sad and funny story . All those emotions into one package, along with Dame Judy Dench who shines. " Sister doesn't approve of that word... Suck " speaking about how oranges should be eaten in the privacy of your own bedroom with a plate and a napkin. Never "sucked" out. they don't make 'em like this anymore. It's a small scenic painting that you have looked at in your Grandma's house on the parlor room wall for years that has come to life. And when the tears are all dried up ( the poor sisters' deaths ) , and the stomach ceases to hurt from laughter over trying to get the cat to do his "business" so that you can retrieve your antique lace , you'll wish you could open your own front door and walk right into .... Cranford....more info
  • Charming, Great Characters
    Sadly I had only caught bits & pieces of this series since it first aired on British television - but luckily I got the DVD for Christmas!

    What a fantastic series, with truly interesting and engaging characters, and genuine laughs. It's just a shame it's not longer! Five episodes is just not enough! I can't believe John Adams beat this out at the Golden Globes - Cranford is 100 times more thoughtful, touching, and engaging than that dry old lump of a miniseries.

    I can't say a bad thing about this series except my cousin (30 year old male) caught part of it and said he couldn't watch any more chattering ladies, it was driving him crazy....more info
    Loved this series. The values they believed in and lived. Hard to find nowadays. Much to be learned from their integrity. Well acted and beautifully filmed. Have lent it out to others who have never heard of it and they loved it to and don't want to give it back....more info
  • WOW, another perfect BBC production
    This show was just plain perfection. The acting was wonderful (as was the casting) and the seamless story (a compilation of 3 of Gaskell's stories) was just impecably done.

    This was such a pleasure to watch. I cannot rave enough about how well done this production was. There is just not a lot more to say about this fabulous show.......more info
  • superb!
    Set in rural England of the mid 19th century and featuring a group of gossipping women, this doesn't seem very likely, altho' several romances and deaths provide some interest. But this film is great viewing due to the excellence of its production. Script, performances (by a tremendous cast) and production values are topnotch: the BBC have not done so well since the 1995 Pride & Prejudice.
    A special is promised for Christmas 2009, so this dvd will have plenty of time for frequent viewing. ...more info
  • Cranford DVD
    Cranford, a thought provoking commentary on societal change, is beautifully written and produced, with fascinating characters and excellent acting. It is extremely well done. We will watch it again and again, I'm sure....more info
  • British Period movies
    Cranford is a delightful video. If you are a lover of Jane Austen, this will in be right up your alley. I love Judith Dench and every thing she does....more info
  • Charming
    Cranford is an unchanging village with traditions its loathe to part with. A lovely capsule of life in a small town.... Gossips, romances, traditions and grief, all in the life of the inhabitants of Cranford. Judi Dench and the cast are all wonderful....more info
  • Almost a Blue-Ribbon Production
    "Cranford,"a recently-made, typically lush British Broadcasting Company comic costume drama, is based on the classic works of Mrs.Elizabeth Gaskell, a celebrated British Victorian-era novelist. The Emmy-nominated production, in five episodes, uses Gaskell's "Cranford,"with added material from two of her short stories, one about Lady Ludlow, and one about young Dr. Harrison. It is set in 1842-3 in a small rural Cheshire town, based by the author on the real town of Knutsford. The gorgeous location filming was done in Hertfordshire; with Ashridge Park, Little Godesden, modeling for Lady Ludlow's estate, Hanbury. It boasts a large cast of top-rank British actors, and more stars than there are in Heaven, as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer used to like to boast.

    The story, clearly aimed at the demographic of an older female audience, who love Public Broadcasting Systems "Masterpiece Theatre," and the filmed work of Merchant/Ivory -- just like me, of course, as charged --centers on the women of Cranford, most of them no longer young, robbed of any chance at marriage by the Napoleonic wars. They face unprecedented change, as outsiders start moving into their lovely village, and the railroad approaches. They are also forced to live lives limited by their finances and their social positions in the patriarchal society of the time. Most prominent among them are the acclaimed stage actress Eileen Atkins as Deborah Jenkyns, local social arbiter, and the Oscar-winning Dame Judi Dench as her younger warmer sister, Miss Matty. Imelda Staunton (Miss Pole), Julia MacKenzie (Mrs. Forrester), and Barbara Flynn (Miss Jamieson) do strong, funny work as their satellites. Francesca Annis, still beautiful, gives us an admirable Lady Ludlow. We also get distinguished performances from several more women: Lisa Dillon as Mary Smith; Rosy Byrne as Lizzie Hutton; Kimberley Nixon as Sophy Hutton; Julia Sawalha ("Ab Fab") as Jessie Brown, and Emma Fielding, as Miss Galindo, who seems to utter a lot of thoughts, on the subject of women's difficult lives, that may well have been the author's. As the Tomkinson sisters, Selina Griffiths and Deborah Findlay provide sweet comic relief.

    There are also men in Cranford of course, and some very heavy-weight male actors playing them, though their parts are generally lighter than the women's. Chief among them must be the acclaimed Michael Gambon as Mr. Holbrook, a former suitor of Miss Matty's. Martin Shaw shows up briefly as Peter Jenkyns, long-lost brother to the Jenkyns women. Jim Carter is a sturdy Captain Brown. Simon Woods is handsome, and light of touch, as young Dr. Harrison, who comes to town bearing new medical techniques, and somehow gets himself into trouble with the local womenfolk. Philip Glenister as Mr. Carter appears in every episode and may have the strongest, most dramatic individual scenes in the production. And playing right with him, to the hilt, as young Harry Gregson, a poacher's son, is young Alex Etel, who shone so brightly as the little boy in Neil Jordan's film "Millions."

    The Cheshire locals, of course, will have their own strong country accent, with which Americans will not be comfortable. And, while looking elsewhere on the Internet, I found a comment about this production: "If you don't know what they're saying, turn on the subtitles." So here comes the subtitle report: if only we could. It is fiddly work indeed trying to turn on those subtitles, and we failed at it in this house. Can't the BBC do better for this blue-ribbon production?
    ...more info
  • Amazing BBC Presentation - A Classic
    Great production. Definitely a classic. Anyone will enjoy it. It is well worth owning....more info
  • SImply fantastic!
    All I can say is that this is a simply fantastic series! I bought this on a whim and I'm so glad that I did! One of the best miniseries that I own. WATCH THIS! Each episode has you in stitches and tears. An incredible emotional ride and I commend everyone behind this production! It's just a beautifully-told tale! HIGHLY recommended....more info
  • Cranford is Excellent Television
    I just finished watching the BBC's Cranford miniseries and it was wonderful. The series is set in a small town in 1840s England. Cranford is a town full of unmarried women (very common at the time with all of the men who had died in the Napoleonic wars and those who had gone to the colonies--India, etc) where social decorum and gossip are equally important. Change is afoot in Cranford as the railroad comes into the area and small town life threatens to change forever. The miniseries aptly captures the mood of the age, showing the emotion of the townspeople in a memorable way.

    This is a wonderful ensemble piece, even though Judi Dench really does steal just about every scene she's in. All of the main characters are well developed, and as you learn their back-stories you like them even more. When the miniseries was over I wanted more--so I will definitely be renting the other BBC Elizabeth Gaskell movies.

    I had never seen any series based on Elizabeth Gaskell novels before, so if you are in doubt, I would recommend this series to anyone who enjoys Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, or even the recent BBC version of Bleak House. The miniseries is done with all of the usual BBC taste so be ready to enjoy some quality period fun!...more info
  • Cranford
    I enjoyed this video very much. It portrayed what most women are really like. This is not a movie that men would enjoy but if you like small town living and the gossip that goes with it then you will enjoy this. I am only sorry that it does not continue as a series. The actresses and actors were very good....more info
  • Disappointed that I ordered from Amazon
    First I'd like to say that this is such a wonderful story!! I've watched it a few times and each time I discover something new. What a fabulous group of characters and how their lives intertwine in a small village. I hear that they may make a sequel and I can hardly wait!!!

    Now the bad news: I should have purchased it through [...]. Why? It comes in 2 discs and EACH time you view EACH disc you have to sit through 5-10 minutes of commercials from the BBC. On any other DVD that I've purchased, you can fast forward to get to the Menu. With this one you cannot do that.

    Honestly, here I am paying for a DVD and I still have to watch advertisements.

    The other thing I found frustrating with the actual viewing is the sound editing. Very poor! I had to go back on more than one occasion to try and hear what the actors were saying. It's a combination of the actors talking way too fast and the microphone not catching everything they say.

    On the whole, you will be captivated and transported to this wonderful town and its people. ...more info


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