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DVD Review

DVD cover

A Dance to the Music of Time


Starring: Simon Russell Beale, James Purejoy, Miranda Richardson, Zoë Wanamaker, John Standing, Alan Bennett, Eileen Atkins and Sir John Gielgud
Acorn Media UK
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 19 July 2010

Nick Jenkins is one of a group of young men who have been raised to think they are destined to rule the world, when in fact the world may turn out to belong to someone called Widmerpool. A Dance to the Music of Time is a wryly comic portrait of upper-class and bohemian England, from the early '20s to the '50s. Friendship, adultery, ambition and failure are set against the backdrop of London's social, political and artistic life. Foolish love, broken dreams, marriages of convenience, affairs of the heart, knives in the back. This drama of life, like life itself, is rich in unexpected twists and turns...

A Dance to the Music of Time is based on the Anthony Powell's bestselling twelve-novel series. This series was originally broadcast as four 'films' in October 1997 on Channel 4.

The story was inspired by Nicolas Poussin's A Dance to the Music of Time painting, and follows a group of young men who all meet while at school and then follows how their lives cross, even though they go on to move in very different circles, over the years.

The story is told from the point of view of Nick Jenkins (played by James Purefoy in three of the four films) but it is the obnoxious Widmerpool (Simon Russell Beale) who is the most interesting character. Widmerpool is quite a large boy and is ridiculed by his peers at school, but as he grows up he becomes the very thing he despises - a bully. As Widmerpool rises through the ranks of power he thinks nothing of destroying his old school 'friends' in the process.

Beale's performance over these four films is incredibly well handled. Widmerpool is a man to be pitied, bringing a lot of his misery on himself. While his career (rising quickly through the ranks of the army, becoming a Labour MP and accepting a peerage to the House of Lords) seems to bring him everything he wants, it also brings much misery. The only one of his school friends who he actually has any fondness for is Jenkins, but at times even this relationship is tested to breaking point.

Extras include the text based Anthony Powell Biography; Anthony Powell Bibliography; and selected Cast Filmographies.

Famous names who appear briefly include Miranda Richardson, Zoë Wanamaker, Alan Bennett, Sir John Gielgud and Colin Baker.

This is an incredibly powerful series that is well worth adding to your collection.


Darren Rea

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