Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Good Soldier (1981 TV movie)

The credits for The Good Soldier, produced by Granada Television, can be found at IMDB. I remember seeing this when it originally aired on Masterpiece Theatre and enjoying it immensely. I didn’t realize it would be 25 years later before I read the book.

The movie runs very true to the book despite the difficult circular nature of the novel’s narration. Using flashbacks and revisiting scenes with more detail added, the movie is able to capture some of the accretive nature in which facts are revealed instead of going strictly in chronological order. Susan Fleetwood does a wonderful job as Leonora, and it was hard for me to keep a straight face when John Ratzenberger showed up as Jimmy (he did a fine job, but I associate him with too many other roles now). The sets and locations are lovely and give you the feel of an era that is long gone.

I highly recommend the movie. That being said, it does feels stilted and tedious at times. If you’re not a fan of other Masterpiece Theatre shows, you many not like this at it has the same period-piece feel and languid pace of other productions. One of the biggest disappointments for me with the adaptation was that it did not feel like they developed the friendship between Dowell and Edward. In the book it is clear that Dowell still loves Edward in spite of everything he now knows. Yet you never see much of a friendship between the two, although I realize that class constraints would dictate the two men act as they do in the movie (it is interesting to compare the men’s staid behavior with the women’s animated actions). Maybe the warmth is all in Dowell’s head and they capture that accurately, although I believe it was just difficult to show the friendship develop beyond playing pool or hunting together.

Again, it’s a relatively minor quibble with a well done production. It is available now on DVD.

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