Lost Empires DVD
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Directed by Various (TV)
Produced in 1986
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
Contemporary Drama • Contemporary Period, Costume, Historical Film • Contemporary British Film • Television Drama • Period, Costume & Historical Television • British Television • Musicals & Music • Contemporary British Film
Adapted from JB Priestley's novel set shortly before the Great War, this fine series deftly captures the mood of the nation as cracks started to appear in its fabric, writes David Parkinson.
Costume dramas remain a small-screen staple, but Alan Grint's adaptation of JB Priestley's 1965 novel confirms that they really don't make 'em like they used to do. Splendidly designed and solidly scripted, this is a lost gem that has, thankfully, been rediscovered.
Set shortly before the Great War, the seven-part story is packed with transient characters as it follows a music-hall troupe around Britain. The action is necessarily episodic, as newcomer Colin Firth joins uncle John Castle's magic act and has backstage encounters with the likes of Laurence Olivier's washed-up comic and Pamela Stephenson's flighty chanteuse. But this fine ITV series deftly captures the mood of the nation as cracks started to appear in the socio-moral fabric. Moreover, it reflects with admirable fidelity the changing tastes of cross-class audiences as ragtime and bawdy gags became the norm.
Olivier landed an Emmy nomination for his cameo, but Firth and Castle hold the piece together, with the former's cautious curiosity contrasting with the latter's cynicism, which caustically exposes the harsher realities of an outwardly glamorous lifestyle.
David Parkinson on 18th June 2012
Author of 191 reviews
A Granada TV mini-series based on the novel by JB Priestley, Lost Empires follows the adventures of a young man introduced to the music hall circuit in the early 20th century.
When Richard Herncastle (Colin Firth) is taken on as an assistant by his magician uncle (John Castle), he is thrown headfirst into both the glamour and seediness of life as a stage entertainer. Traveling from one city to the next, assisting at conjuring acts and disappearing acts, Richard comes to know romance, politics and high adventure. The next year, the guns of August 1914 blast away that world forever.
The series contains one of Laurence Olivier's final performances before his death in 1989.
Publisher: Acorn Media
Length: 411 mins
Cat No: AV3010
Format: DVD Colour
- 2 discs