Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tom Brown's Schooldays (1971)

Why: I became interested in TV miniseries throughout the years, and this was the first Emmy winner for this format back in 1973.


I'm no big anglophile. Oh, I've spent hours watching Doctor Who and Monty Python, and I've read a few Agatha Christies, but I couldn't tell you royal succession beyond Elizabeth II. So, why would I watch this? Well, I started to wonder about the TV miniseries after reading more about events like Roots and Rich Man, Poor Man. I went back to look at miniseries beginnings and decided to check out some that were nominated for Emmys back when they started to be recognized. This was the first winner.

So, I went into this DVD set not knowing a thing about Thomas Hughes or Tom Brown's Schoodays. Apparently, it was a poorly-disguised memoir about Hughes' time at the famous Rugby public (read: private) school in England. He was the son of a judge who sent him to Rugby when Tom's previous school is shut down due to an outbreak. The main tension in the story comes from Tom's struggles with a bully at school, the son of a lord whom Tom caught abusing a servant girl at his house.

I actually quite liked this film. The acting is uneven, but the narrative is compelling, as a young man tries to find his way, struggling with his taught morality in the real world as he matures, finding his way as he becomes a man. The bully character, Flashman is sufficiently evil, and yet somehow realistic in his position and actions. Coincidentally, Charles Benoit tells me the character was adopted by author George MacDonald Fraser for a series of 19th Century adventure novels.

NetFlix rating: ***

1 comment:

Charles Benoit said...

The Flashman novels are the ultimate in inside novels - must-reads for those who must mead the must-reads