Friday, June 3, 2011

The Young Visiters (2003)

"Bernard has a big home
...he is inclined to be rich.
Oh indeed said Ethel looking
at some cows flashing past the window."
- 'The Young Visiters', Chapter 2
No, you're not seeing things and I have not misspelled it, the title of this film and the book it was adapted from is The Young Visiters. This is a very unique period drama and I've had so much fun writing this post and including quotes from the book.
In 2004 or 2005 my family stumbled across The Young Visiters (2003) when it was shown on the BBC America channel. Although we'd never heard of it and didn't know quite what to expect, someone had the forethought to pop in a VHS tape and record it. We watched it many times before I was finally able to buy a DVD copy. This delightful film is now a family favorite, one that we still watch and quote from often. There are is a lot of period drama goodness, a witty screenplay and amazing talented actors. Unfortunately not too many seem to know about this little gem.

"Mr. Salteena was an elderly man of 42 and was fond 
of asking people to stay with him."
- 'The Young Visiters', Chapter 1

Storyline: In England 1890, nine-year-old Daisy Ashford penned this delightful tale of Victorian life from her point of view. It gathered dust until when it was found and delivered to publishers who keeping young Daisy's original spellings and lack of punctuation printed it in 1919.  It delighted readers and has not been out of print in England since that time. Her hero, Alfred Salteena, is a slightly bumbling gentleman who meets a young lady, Ethel Montague, on a train and invites her to his home in London. She comes to see society and meet young men and bothers him to go out and meet important people. They travel to see Lord Bernard Clark at his rambling family home. There Alfred realizes that he is not "high society" enough to win the beautiful social climber Ethel. Lord Bernard offers to send him to a training school to help gentlemen improve themselves, while he entertains Ethel.

"I shall put some red ruge on my face said Ethel because 
I am very pale owing to the drains in this house."
- 'The Young Visiters', Chapter 2
Scenes: The filmmakers did a wonderful job of bringing the young authoress's imaginations to life! Each scene is filled with charming Victorian scenery. Some of the beauties include: Alf's cramped city house, a train and train station, Lord Bernard's massive country estate, a riverside picnic, as well as interior and exterior scenes of a "palace". The props and decorations are so delightfully period in style.

"Then Mr. S. opened the box and there lay the most splendid top hat 
of a lovely rich tone rather like 
grape with a ribbon round compleat." 

- 'The Young Visiters', Chapter 1
Costumes: The costumes are all amazing, late Victorian in style. From Mr. Salteena's "grape" colored hat to his brown suit, his costumes are perfect. Ethel's dresses are so beautiful and frivolous like her character. Made with velvets, satins and silks in rich tones of reds, purples and greens. Lord Bernard's suits, dressing gown and especially his picnic wear are perfectly in keeping with his role of the country gentleman.

"He was a lonely man in a remote spot and he liked peaple and partys 
but he did not know many."
- 'The Young Visiters', Chapter 1 (about Lord Bernard)

Music: In keeping with the period atmosphere as well as adding charm and humor, composer Nicholas Hooper's original music for The Young Visiters (2003) is lovely! Mr. Hooper is no stranger to period dramas having written the soundtracks for The Way We Live Now as well as some of the Harry Potter films. Another delightful addition is the very talented Mr. Hugh Laurie who portrays Lord Bernard sings as well as playing the piano. His song is supposed to be monotonous but I, like Ethel, rather enjoy it.

Music Video: 
I made this video with music from the film accompanied by photos. 

"Here on a golden chair was seated the prince of Wales in a lovely ermine cloak and a small but costly crown."
- 'The Young Visiters, Chapter 6

Actors You Might Recognize: Another lovely thing about the The Young Visiters (2003) is the amount of talented actors who they cast. Many of these actors are well versed in period dramas and did a wonderful job in portraying Daisy Ashford's characters.

"When will you marry me Ethel he uttered you must be my wife it has come to that I love you so intensly that if you say no I will perforce dash my body to the brink of yon muddy river he panted wildly."
- 'The Young Visiters', Chapter 9
My Thoughts: As I've said before this film is one of my family's favorites. The filmmakers have taken great care to keep true to Daisy Ashford's original work and words. They do not laugh or poke fun at her youthful social blunders, innocence of propriety or the childish spellings and incorrect use of grammar. But they do, as she did, take her story and characters very seriously. After seeing this film my parents and I searched and finally found a beautiful modern printing of The Young Visiters (I'm linking the copy we own). Daisy Ashford's novella is so delightful to read because although she does sometimes use the wrong words it is very clear that in her mind she knew exactly what was going on and how each character should act. Her's is not a tale aimed at children, rather it is a commentary on how she viewed the Victorian society she lived in. When it was finally published in 1919 Daisy was a young lady of 38 years and had abandoned her childish writings for the more solid career of a secretary and would run a canteen and help her country in the war. The Young Visiters became an instant success in England, it was reprinted 18 times in its first year and dramatized for the stage in 1920. Another book of short works was published in 1920 didn't meet as great success as the first book. Her book was also popular in America for a time but didn't stay in print like it has in the UK. The grown up Daisy Ashford once said of her surprising fame "I can never feel all the nice things that have been said about The Young Visiters, are really due to me at all, but to a Daisy Ashford of so long ago that she seems almost another person." Her work is charming and I highly recommend it be read often. I've had so much fun re-reading bits of and including quotes in this post.

"Ethel patted her hair and looked very sneery. Well I call it very mystearious you going off and getting a title said Ethel and I think our friendship had better stop as no doubt you will soon be marrying a duchess or something.
Not at all said Mr Salteena you must know Ethel he said blushing a deep red I always wished to marry you some fine day.
This is news to me cried Ethel still peevish."
- 'The Young Visiters', Chapter 8

My Recommendations: Do see and enjoy The Young Visiters (2003). It is so delightful and fun, especially for those period drama fans out there it will be a breath of fresh air. And I also highly recommend reading Daisy Ashford's original work and considering it a classic. I highly recommend The Young Visiters!

Have you ever heard of The Young Visiters
Have you seen this film? or have you ever read the book? 
Who is your favorite character?

Film Clip - Mr. Salteena's Preparations
While Alfred Salteena struggles through his lessons in becoming a proper gentleman, Lord Bernard and Ethel make a stop in London where they enjoy and evening out on the town.

Very Truly Your's,


Net Movie Blogger said...

That looks very interesting. I must check it out sometime very soon! Thank you for posting news about it.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Miss Laurie, why have I never heard of this book and film! I've just put it in my Netflix queue. Thanks for the tip!

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