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Gormenghast (****)
Directed by Andy Wilson
Written by Malcolm McKay (from the novels by Mervyn Peake)
Principal Cast
Andrew Robertson -- Titus (17 years)
Neve McIntosh -- Fuchsia
Olga Sosnovska -- Keda
Sean Hughes -- Poet
George Yiasoumi -- Bookman
Lynsey Baxter -- Cora Groan
June Brown -- Nannie Slagg
Windsor Davies -- Rottcodd
Stephen Fry -- Professor Bellgrove
Richard Griffiths -- Swelter
Celia Imrie -- Lady Gertrude
Christopher Lee -- Flay
Spike Milligan -- Deadyawn
Warren Mitchell -- Barquentine
Jonathan Rhys-Meyers -- Steerpike
Ian Richardson -- Lord Groan
John Sessions -- Dr. Prunesquallor
Fiona Shaw -- Irma Prunesquallor
Eric Sykes -- Mollocks
ZoŽ Wanamaker -- Clarice
Daniela Zocchi -- Wild girl
Ratings
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Gormenghast

This is the greatest gothic film ever made. It is fantastic without fantasy, opulent, decadent, baroque, bizarre, beautifully acted, gloriously filmed. The genius is in the characters:
John Sessions as Prunesquallor deserves special mention,
there is Steerpike, the charming monster, who smiles and smiles and is yet a villain -- and why shouldn't he be, considering the way he is treated,
we have Flay and Swelter and Nanny Slag and the royal family:
Lord Groan, whose great love is his library,
Lady Gertrude, who cares for nothing but white birds and white cats,
Fuchsia, their willful daughter,
Clarice & Cora, who have only half a wit between them, and, of course,
Titus Groan, 77th Earl of Gormenghast, whose father is pecked to death by owls, and who longs only to escape.

Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake, one of the greatest of all fantasy trilogies, is not fantasy and is not a trilogy. It is set in the unimaginably distant future and there are either two books or four, depending on what you count. (All the good stuff is in the first two books.) It is on a par with The Lord of the Rings and The Once and Future King, but where those are bright, Gormenghast is dark, dark.

The BBC brought Gormenghast to radio, with Sting in the role of Steerpike. It was very well done, considering the constraints of condensing a sprawling set of novels into a few hours of radio drama.

Now we have a television mini-series from the BBC that is even better. Good beyond belief, in fact. It received a very limited showing in the US, and is now available on DVD.

Copyright © 2001 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.


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