I watched Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe (1985) just a few days ago on YouTube. I must confess that I knew very little about the George Eliot story before I watch this film. But I did my research and found that it was a clean film that sticks fairly close to the original novel. I also remembered my brother had read the book in high school (home school) and that he had enjoyed it for the most part. I was also interested in this particular film because it starred actor Ben Kingsley who I have enjoyed in other period dramas.
Synopsis: Silas Marner was a man who had everything - until he lost it all. Falsely accused of theft and driven out of his town, Silas starts life anew. His weaving is well received in the northern village and Silas gains a wealth of gold while remaining a mysterious recluse to his neighbors. One night his gold is stolen and he distrusts everyone until one day, upon arriving home, he discovers a foundling child asleep on the hearth. Could this young girl with the golden hair be the redemption to love and happiness that Silas has been looking for?
I was not at all disappointed by actor Ben Kingsley. I was surprised and delighted every time he opened his mouth. As Silas Marner he put his all into becoming the character, a gentle soul torn by a troubled life. The tenderness and extreme gentleness with which Silas raises little Eppie is such a lovely example of fatherhood. Mr. Kingsley's accent, manner and expressions are very well done and I wish the film was just a little bit longer if only to see more of his grand performance!
Actor Ben Kingsley's other period dramas include: Twelfth Night (1996) (as Feste, I adore him in this!), Tuck Everlasting (2002), Alice In Wonderland (1999), Oliver Twist (2005) (as Fagin, I'd love to see this!).
Other actor's performances were fairly good, there aren't a lot of other characters in the film/story. Here are some of the actors, their roles and other period films:
- Jenny Agutter as Nancy Lammeter - a young socialite who is engaged to marry Eppie's father. A sweet young lady who is devoted to her man! I've only seen Jenny is a few things but she is a delight to watch! Her other period dramas include: The Railway Children (1970), Marple: What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw, Poirot: Take At The Flood, Glorious 39.
- Jonathan Coy as Dunstan Cass - a cunning fellow, son of the local squire, who is usually in debt. He is the thief who steals Silas Marner's gold and comes to a tragic end. Knowing Mr. Coy from his role as John Thorpe in Northanger Abbey (1987) I am always surprised to see him turn up in other period dramas. The abundance of his other films include: Middlemarch (1994), The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (2001), The Lost Prince, The Old Curiosity Shop (2007), Poirot: King of Clubs, Sherlock Holmes: Silver Blaze, Rumpole of the Bailey (TV series), as well as 1, 2, 3, 4 Horatio Hornblower films!
- Angela Pleasence as Molly - Eppie's unfortunate mother who is an opiate addict and a poor beggar woman. Although her character is short-lived she does a fine job at handling such a tragic role. I've seen Ms. Pleasence in several roles, my favorite being Lady Bertram in Mansfield Park (1983). Her other period films include: The Barchester Chronicles, A Christmas Carol (1984), Anastasia: The Mystery of Anna, Poirot: Appointment With Death, and Marple: Murder At The Vicarage.
- Jim Broadbent as Jem Rodney - a simple village man, one who is almost afraid of Silas Marner and helps fuel the rumor that he might be a possessed person. I was surprised and had to chuckle when I saw Mr. Broadbent. I've enjoyed his performance in many other period films including: The Young Visiters (my favorite!), The Young Victoria, Vanity Fair (2004), Widows' Peak, Nicholas Nickleby (2002), and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (2005).
Sets are simple and lighting is fairly poor because it is an older piece. Music, composed by Carl Davis (of Pride & Prejudice 1995 and Cranford fame), is very simple though there are a few lovely dances and folk tunes. Costumes are in simple earth tones but in keeping with the rural country life. The film runs only 92 minutes and and moves fairly quickly and definitely kept my interest. The first scene, where Silas Marner is falsely accused of theft, runs a bit oddly but make it past that and the film is full of interest.
The bond that forms between Silas and Eppie is truly beautiful and tender. Silas spoils his adopted daughter but far from being a brat Eppie grows up to be a young woman as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.
I do recommend this film, especially for those who love period drama and films such as films like Under The Greenwood Tree, Nicholas Nickleby and David Copperfield.
I've made a video with photos and theme music from the film. Enjoy!
Very truly yours,