BBC’s 1982 Barchester Chronicles, episodes 1-3

The Barchester Chronicles sees Rickman returning to familiar territory–a BBC miniseries adaptation of a classic novel. This time, though, he has a much bigger role in the production.

This miniseries premiered a couple of months after his very brief appearance in Smiley’s People and is an adaptation of the first 2 novels in Anthony Trollope’s six book Barsetshire series–The Warden and Barchester Towers. I’ve not actually read the second book in the series, but I thoroughly enjoyed The Warden when I read it for a class a couple of years ago. I personally think Trollope is a much better, more interesting 19th century British writer than Charles Dickens, who is arguably more famous–Trollope’s characters are more nuanced and his stories are emotionally resonant without relying on melodrama. Plus, they are witty as can be. The first two episodes of this miniseries are an adaptation of The Warden while the remaining five are adaptations of Barchester Towers. 

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BBC’s 1980 Thérèse Raquin miniseries

Nearly a year and a half after Romeo and Juliet aired, Rickman returned to the BBC for his second television appearance–a small supporting role in a 3 part Thérèse Raquin miniseries.

Disclaimer–unlike Romeo and Juliet, which I am not a fan of, I actually do like the source material for this one very much. It’s been several years since I read Thérèse Raquin, but I was intrigued by the premise after I came across an interview with Kate Winslet where she was talking about how much she loved the book. I had never heard of it, thought the plot sounded interesting, and promptly requested it via interlibrary loan through the library I work at. I’ve always been fascinated by psychological thrillers, so the tale of an adulterous couple who slowly go insane after murdering the woman’s husband was right up my alley.

Despite enjoying the book, I’ve never watched any of the handful of adaptations of this novel, so beyond watching this one to see an early Rickman role, I was also curious to see how this story translated onscreen.

Note–the picture quality of this cover image does not reflect the pretty fuzzy picture quality of the version I watched on YouTube. Apologies in advance for the blurry screencaps.

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Next page: “Episode 1”

1978 BBC’s Romeo and Juliet

So, let’s start the Alan Rickman Memorial Festival with his first-ever screen appearance.

Everyone always talks about Rickman’s impressive debut in Die Hard,  but technically it’s only his film debut because Rickman had been acting on stage and the British small screen for years before. His television debut actually came a full ten years before Die Hard, in the BBC’s Television Shakespeare version of Romeo and Juliet. BBC Television Shakespeare was a seven season effort to broadcast all of Shakespeare’s plays on that channel, and Romeo and Juliet was the first episode to air. Rickman was tapped to play Tybalt, Juliet’s hotheaded cousin who hates Romeo and his whole family with a fiery, fiery passion.

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Alan Rickman Memorial Festival

I had initially started this blog with the intention of analyzing narrative structure in television shows, but that quickly proved unfeasible with my current work and other commitments. I just didn’t have the time to devote the several hours a week that I would need to watch each episode of a television show multiple times, research it, analyze it, and type up an extensive discussion. However, I still wanted to blog and was casting around for a more manageable topic.

In the meantime, I–like so many other movie fans around the world–was saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Alan Rickman back in January.

It seems like everyone has a default character that Rickman is for them, probably the first one they saw him play. For some, it’s Hans Gruber; for others, it’s the Sheriff of Notthingham or Colonel Brandon or Severus Snape. My default character is probably some weird fusion of Hans Gruber and Alexander Dane–Hans Dane? Alexander Gruber? I don’t know how you’d fuse those two characters, but I guarantee you the result would be awesomeness personified.

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Greetings!

This blog is essentially me detoxing from academia. I recently graduated with a master’s in English and before that I earned a bachelor’s in English and European History.

So, basically, I wrote a lot of literary analysis papers and I also got tired of writing literary analysis on other people’s terms. I enjoyed my time in grad school and still love to learn (and write literary analysis), but I no longer want to write about texts and themes chosen for me on someone else’s time table.

Currently I am working part-time at a library and doing freelance technical writing on the side. My new-found freedom from syllabi, midterms, and annotated bibliographies is lovely. I had forgotten what free time was–but I’m also not 100% sure what to do with it.

One way I have kept myself occupied is by studying topics I didn’t have the time to learn more about when I was in school. During my stay in the academic world, I became fascinated with narratology and narrative structure. I didn’t know it at the time, but my interest was piqued by an undergraduate paper I wrote about the narrative choices in Pat Barker’s Regeneration. I thought the novel’s point of view shifts were a rhetorical reflection of the book’s excellent, thought-provoking content, but the idea of actually studying narrative beyond that one project still didn’t occur to me until nearly a year later when I was a first year graduate student in a class about adaptation theory.

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