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DVD Review

DVD cover

Rosamunde Pilcher's Four Seasons
Winter / Spring


Starring: Michael York, Senta Berger, Frank Finlay, Juliet Mills and Natalia Worner
Acorn Media UK
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 12 April 2010

When the long lost daughter of Stephen and Julia turns out not to be lost at sea, she returns to the ancestral home of Endellion. Reunited with her daughter, Charlotte still harbours deep resentment towards her father. Tensions start to build in the family as they try to readjust to having Charlotte back from the dead...

Rosamunde Pilcher’s Four Seasons: Winter Spring (2009 - 2 x 1 hr, 30 min approx) continues the story started in Summer Autumn.

When I watched the first two parts of this story I wasn’t overly impressed. With the return of Charlotte, who had acted as the ghost in the closet for the first two parts, things start looking up as far as the narrative is concerned, in fact ‘Winter’ probably represents the best of the four pieces of the story with ‘Spring’ stringing things out a little too far.

One has to remember the author’s background as a Mills and Boons writer, prior to her breakout into mainstream writing. I do not say this to denigrate Pilcher in any way, but this form of literature has its own conventions and one of these always appears to be the happiness of blissful ignorance, until enlightenment is required by the plot, why otherwise would her family have missed the fact that their supposed dead daughter was actually a successful concert pianist, did these people not read a paper, listen to a radio or watch the television for a decade?

Being a romance the plot is convoluted, though thankfully the bodice ripping is kept to a minimum, which should keep fans engrossed and even drag in the occasional uninitiated audience member.

Apart from the cinematography, which is dealt with later, there is little to fault with the acting. Indeed it’s a testament to the writer that the miniseries was able to gain the services of Tom Conti as Stephen’s affable brother, who provides the calm centre to the family, where as Michael York does a good rendition of a man who is toppled from his ivory tower of power by the simple act of a father's (Frank Finlay) rejection.

With the return of Charlotte the titles of the episodes roughly equate to the ideas of death and rebirth. I won’t say who shuffles of their mortal coil in the first part, but I still feel that the realignment of the family following this event could have been truncated to better dramatic effect. The introduction of Charlotte’s lover added little to the overall piece except to provide some unnecessary drama for the last half.

There are a few minor extras on disc one which includes two text based pieces - Rosamunde Pilcher’s Biography and Cast Filmographies - plus a picture gallery. The 16:9 picture is crystal clear, this is most obvious in ‘Winter’ with the use of vivid primary colours, especially red, set against a picture postcard snow covered Endellion, her the direction and cinematography hit their high point, the word sumptuous comes to mind.

So the production values and acting will please fans of Pilcher, for the casual viewer there is still much her to enjoy if you remember the logical restrictions of the genre.


Charles Packer

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