Usually I am quick to jump on the carousel when I hear of a Waterloo-related film or mini-series. But I must have been asleep because I totally missed out on the announcements of the new Amazon Prime series VANITY FAIR, based on the novel by William Makepeace Thackery, originally published as a multi-episode serial in 1847-48.
Olivia Cooke stars as Becky Sharpe, one of English literature's most intriguing characters, the heroine you love to hate or hate to love, either way. The seven-part series began in September 2018 and is available on Amazon Prime. Go directly to your tv and do whatever is necessary to find it. You can always binge watch on a free trial membership, I suppose.
Becky schemes to raise herself in the corrupt, shallow, and hypocritical Society of Regency England, searching for a husband who can afford her ambitions. Above she is greeting her school friend Amelia Sedley, played by Claudia Jessie, and Amelia's sweetheart George Osborne, played by Charlie Rowe.
One of my favorite British actors, Martin Clunes (of Doc Martin), is cast as the obnoxious Sir Pitt Crawley, a baronet who brings Becky to his household as a governess and has designs on her himself.
Becky, however, marries Rawdon Crawley, son of Sir Pitt, which enrages their rich relative, Miss Matilda Crawley, endangering Becky's plans for a rich and comfortable life.
Sir Pitt, Matilda (Frances de la Tour), Becky, Rawdon (Tom Bateman)...this quartet is not even slightly harmonious, as this picture might infer.
Complicating the personal stories of the characters, now in Brussels, the war continues...and concludes with the Battle of Waterloo.
Peace brings only more complications and skulduggery.
Presiding over the vanity fair is the ever-delightful Michael Palin, who provides the context for this tale of unscrupulous ambition, greed, immorality, and--spoiler alert--no happy endings
The costumes, as you have seen above, are outstanding...as are the settings. The Sedley home is located in London and is played by a townhouse in Fitzroy Square, one of the few places in the metropolis where you can absolutely FEEL the Regency still alive.
Marble Hill House, in Richmond, within Greater London, serves as the residence of Miss Matilda Crawley...by the way, the film refers to her as Lady Matilda, but in the novel she is a 'mere' Miss. Marble Hill House has a fascinating history in itself, one I shall explore with you soon. Below, Rawdon tends to his Aunt Matilda in the lavish bedchamber.
The setting for Sir Pitt's house is West Horsley Place in Sussex.
Vanity Fair has been filmed many times. One reason might be that Becky Sharp is such a wonderful, dastardly character that actresses beg to play the role. Until I saw this version, my favorite starred Natasha Little and was produced in six episodes in 1998. I recommend this version too, for once you experience Vanity Fair, you will want to do it again!
With a screenplay by Andrew Davies, you know it is going to be excellent!
Victoria Hinshaw, Author