I had opportunity since I was out for four days on Thanksgiving Holiday to catch up on a few DVDs I’ve yet to see (courtesy of my daughter Annie’s portable DVD machine). One of these was the excellent GORMENGHAST from the BBC, made back in 2000 or thereabouts.
Mervyn Peake’s trilogy has always been megalithic; the very nature of the narrative, language, and near poetic meter impresses the reader with how impossibly HUGE the setting is– the first book alone (Titus Groan) is hundreds of pages, and ends with Titus Groan (the 77th Earl of Groan, around which the plot of the trilogy revolves) a mere infant. So I was a bit skeptical of the idea of condensing such a huge work of fiction into a four episode miniseries. To my surprise, they did a fantastic job of it. The selection of actors was impressive to say the least, from the dark and brooding Jonathan Rhy-Meyers as Steerpike (pictured above, credits to the BBC website) to the moody and somber Christopher Lee as Flay.. simply perfect casting.
I don’t know if you could have made the production any “better” by making it longer, certainly the short length of the DVD (comparitively speaking) flies in the face of the deliberately slow pace of the (mammoth!) novels, but somehow I suspect Mervyn Peake would have liked this brave attempt at bringing his masterpiece to the screen. I’m very impressed and very glad I bought the 2 DVD set..