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Award-winning screenwriter Malcolm McKay (The Interrogation of John, A Wanted Man) bringimaginative trilogy, The Gormenghast Novels, to life in this lavish fantasy miniseries with the high production values characteristic of BBC drama.
Gormenghast has been described as a metaphor for the fall of an empire, the passing of an age and the rise of fascism. The story revolves around the ancient family of Groan and the glorious castle of Gormenghast, and focuses on the heir to the powerful dynasty, Titus, and a witty, power-hungry, kitchen boy Steerpike, who battle for decades to determine the fate of the castle. As Steerpike charms his way into the homes and hearts of the castle inhabitants, it is Titus who ultimately stands in his way as he iChristopher Lee (Sleepy Hollow, Dracula) afaithful retainer, and Steven Fry (narrator of the Harry Potter film).s Flay, Lord Groans forced to defend his birthright to the castle. Who will rule Gormenghast?
Featuring top billed actors, this epic fantasy has a cast list that includes Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Titus, Velvet Goldmine) as the evil Steerpike, Ian Richardson (House of Cards) as Tituss Mervyn Peake
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The BBC's lavish, glowingly designed adaptation of Mervyn Peake's eccentrically brilliant novels Titus Groan and Gormenghast is a triumph of casting. Ian Richardson's Lear-like depiction of the mad earl of a remote, vast, ritual-obsessed building is matched by the brutal pragmatism of Celia Imrie as his wife, the synchronized madness of Zoë Wanamaker and Lynsey Baxter as his twin sisters, and the duplicitous charm of Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Steerpike, the kitchen-boy determined to take over no matter how many deaths it costs. John Sessions is surprisingly touching as Prunesquallor, the family doctor who realizes almost too late what Steerpike intends.
It is always tricky to film a book dear to the hearts of its admirers. Wilson and his design team achieve a look rather more pre-Raphaelite than Peake's own illustrations--shabby velvets, garish sunlight, and dank, stone passages. The score by Richard Rodney Bennett is full of attractive surprises--fanfares and waltzes and apotheoses--and John Tavener's choral additions are plausibly parts of the immemorial ritual of Gormenghast. --Roz Kaveney
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