Forsyte Saga by Jas Galworthy on PBS

Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2002 11:20 am
Has anyone been following this series?
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Reply Wed 6 Nov, 2002 06:20 pm
I've been watching. I saw to 1965 version and tend to think it was better: although, it's a stretch to say that I remember it all that well.

The two big criticisms I have are these: first, the story as now being presented has been turned into a feminist tract. I happen to be in agreement with the general proposition that women have not been treated fairly in our society, but in the interests of artistic integrity, I'd like to see the Saga presented more as Galsworthy wrote it. The fact is, I had more sympathy for Irene when I saw it the first time than I feel while watching the current series. My second problem with the current version is that the present Irene is not nearly so adept at putting across a very complex character and moral development as was the earlier actress.

Others can correct me if I recall incorrectly, but both in the old series and in the novels, Somes was not quite the evil husband he turns out to be in this new series. Irene rejects him and falls in love with others connected with the family, even stealing the fiance of her best friend. Her trick as an actress is to do these things while retaining the active sympathy of the viewers. My memory iss that it was done better before.
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Jose Cuervo
Reply Thu 7 Nov, 2002 10:12 am

I must agree with your observation of Irene/Somes, etc. Irene as written by Galsworthy is a fiery tempestuous type- not the cold unfeeling woman portrayed here. Somes does come off a bit "evil", but then I think his portrayal is accurate and done well.

I was sad to see Gran' Jolian pass as he at least kept my interest. I will keep watching to see the ending now that I've sat thru the first 4 epsisodes. Masterpiece theater always does a fine job with the sets and costumes of a period piece and this is no exception. That alone is worth the 'price of admisson'. Thanks for your insights- I must see if I can find the '60s version on video!
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Reply Thu 7 Nov, 2002 09:38 pm
Jose, I too will watch to the end. I am very tempted to reread the Saga just to be able to more accurately judge the portrayals.

When I saw the original version, my heart bled for Irene. I was totally absorbed in the story, and in the hope that she would eventually find some peace and happiness. This time around, I am only mildly engaged by the new Irene.

Good luck in your search for videos of the original. There were 26 episodes and have never been for sale. I have heard that they could be purchased in England, but that they cost several hundred dollars. There is a rumor afoot that it will soon be for sale here on DVD. Don't hold your breath.
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Reply Wed 20 Nov, 2002 02:45 pm
My main criticism of the new series is that it seemed to portray Soames as a borderline psychopath. This was especially true in the last episode (in a scene which I'll refrain from describing for the benefit of anyone who hasn't finished watching the series yet). I think that Galsworthy intended The Forsyte Saga to be an indictment of Victorian society, as personified by the character of Soames. Granted, Soames may have carried some of the values of Victorian society to extremes, but -- as Galsworthy, and the original TV series, portrayed him -- his flaws were still very much the flaws of the society he lived in. If, on the other hand, Soames is portrayed as just a sick, twisted individual -- as he was in the new series -- then the story loses its power as social criticism, and becomes just a psychological case study.

I also thought that the last episode raced through things much too quickly, almost as if it were a student who suddenly realized that a term paper was due tomorrow and he still had several centuries to cover. The reference to Queen Victoria's death, which was such an important part of the original series, was tossed off almost as an afterthought. One advantage to the original series' being in black and white was that they were able to integrate black-and-white footage of Queen Victoria's funeral procession with scenes of the characters watching the procession go by their houses, so you really believed you were watching the Forsytes watch the procession. I still remember old James Forsyte (Soames's father), who by then was very elderly and feeble, struggling to rise to his feet while saying to his wife, "I am not yet so old that I can't stand when the Queen passes by!"
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Reply Fri 22 Nov, 2002 12:16 am
Bree, thanks for your comment. You are right about Soames. He was not the villain we saw in this series. In the original series I recall having sympathy for him even though I thought much of what he did was wrong headed.

The new series pretty much trashed Galsworthy.
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