Review: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
DVD: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2015 – )
Epic TV featuring world famous actors has more or less overtaken cinema. Game Of Thrones has brought fantasy back to the forefront, and being able to zip through a box set on disc or online is now the norm. So for the BBC to give us an adaptation of the much loved novel of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a bit of a no brainer.
However, this story isn’t as straightforward a piece as say, Wolf Hall. Fictional yet steeped in REAL history and real people, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a truly magical and intelligent piece of drama.
Eddie Marsan (surely one of Britain’s best and most loved and talented character actors, alongside Stephen Graham) gives a heart wrenching performance of a supremely conservative man, deeply scared, who has a vast wealth of magical knowledge, but no real inbuilt talent for his craft. He is at once a horrid, jealous, unchanging man, and at the same time Marsan gives him such heart, that even in his most cruel moments he still quivers slightly betraying that he knows he’s done wrong. No one else could have given Norrell a heart as big Marsan has.
Equally as good is Bertie Carvel as Strange. He gives his character the necessary charisma and hapless ‘posh –tottyness’ required. Like Marsan, he injects real heart and soul into his part, and together they make a beautiful couple, rivals yet the best of friends, enemies and lovers of the same art. Along with our two male leads is the almost ethereal beauty Charlotte Riley (last seen spitting and kicking arse in Edge of Tomorrow). She gives so much more steely depth to Belle than is in the book and through this becomes the heart of the story. I can’t fault any of the acting in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Marc Warren is perfect as ‘The Gentleman’ (lovely wig too), Alice Englert, Ariyon Bakare, Paul Kaye and special mention to Enzo Cilenti.
The story itself has so many varied themes in it, it should probably be taught at A level! Set in the Napoleonic wars when Britain was undergoing such flux and social change, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and a period where men began to look to science, rather than the bible for explanations.
A great series, and some great extras too. Definitely recommended.
- The Making of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (includes key cast and crew, fascinating insight from the makers and the stars – Susanna Clarke is even on set!)
- Deleted scenes
- Two Making of shorts – showing how the special effects were added
- Stills Picture Gallery
- Behind the Scenes Picture Gallery
Review by Tina (co-host of 60 Minutes With) from discs kindly supplied by Aim Publicity.