He Knew He Was Right (2004– )
User ReviewsReview this title
Trollope wrote some 49 novels, although few would adapt as well as this to the small screen. Hopefully the DVD release will follow soon.
Louis Trevelyan (Oliver Dimsdale) marries Emily Rowley (Laura Fraser) and takes her to London. They are extraordinarily happy until Colonel Osborne, Emily's godfather, (Bill Nighy) begins daily visits to Emily. Her husband is jealous, which is reasonable enough in the context of the film. However, he makes the serious mistake of forbidding her to see Osborne.
Emily is high-spirited, and refuses this demand, and matters spiral down from there. Scholars have written that the plot is a reflection of Shakespeare's "Othello." Of course, the central theme of "Othello" is jealousy, but, to me, that's where the resemblance ends. Remember that the character Othello is an outsider. Louis Trevelyan is wealthy, and he moves smoothly in London society. I think the closer parallel is to Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale." In "The Winter's Tale," King Leontes has a beautiful, loving, virtuous wife, but he becomes suspicious of her fidelity. There's no Iago to ferment suspicion--it just arises. In both Shakespeare and Trollope, the unfounded suspicion brings about terrible consequences.
The major plot of "He Knew He Was Right" is, indeed, tragic. However, Trollope has brought us four sub-plots, all involving true love that is initially thwarted. (Well, I'm not sure about how true the love is in one of the sub-plots, but there's plenty of thwarting involved.)
As always, the BBC has given us fine production values, and an excellent supporting cast. Oliver Dimsdale does a fine job as Louis Trevelyan. Laura Fraser is brilliant as Emily Trevelyan. The plot depends on her to be loving, virtuous, stubborn, and forgiving, and she manages to portray all these qualities perfectly. The camera loves her, and it's obvious that director Vaughan is aware of this. He has chosen to let her beautiful dark eyes convey to us what she is thinking and feeling. It was a superb casting choice. It's worth seeing "He Knew He Was Right" just to watch a talented actor play the part that's perfect for her.
Because this BBC mini-series was made for TV, it works well on the small screen. Find a way to see it. You'll be glad you did.
P.S. At certain key moments in the movie, characters turn to us and tell us what they are thinking. It's an interesting device at first, but ultimately I found it annoying. Luckily, these moments of direct communication from the character to the audience become less frequent as the film progresses.
Love Trollope - loved this. If I had read the book first would I still? Hard to say, but this is quality TV mate, and it's a rare bird.
But the novel itself is not the usual Trollope of politicians and clergymen (although both are featured). It is rather a psychological study of a man consumed by jealousy, and its effects on all around him. The problem in the 21st century is that the bases for the jealousy, the responses and the social mores which shape them, are so deeply rooted in Victorian England's peculiar class structure that they are hard to comprehend, and even harder to sympathise with. So that this viewer is irritated rather than involved, wanting to ask "what is all the fuss about?" But the director, writer and cast keep the action moving briskly through the four hours of the mini-series, and it is only in the final hour, when melodrama turns farcical, that the irritation overcomes the involvement.
There is a concept of 'the fourth wall' which separates the drama from the viewer. This is smashed regularly for no apparent reason, when one of the characters, suddenly turns to the camera and delivers some form of rationalization. This will add nothing to the exposition, but leaving the viewer, newly disconnected from the world in which he/she was immersed, wondering what on earth the director intended to achieve. Depending on how engrossed you were this is either amusing or infuriating. Really one of the worst (best) examples of why this is not normally a good idea.
On the one hand there were wonderful veteran players like Anna Massey, Bill Nighy ,Geoffrey Palmer, Geraldine James, and Ron Cook devouring up the screen with memorable performances...on the other... we are asked to accept a mere child actor, Oliver Dimsdale as Louis Trevelyan the main character. He was so out of his league as to be painful...why not enlist someone like Hugh Dancy or James D'Arcy to rally some real bite into the character of Trevelyan. Dimsdale came off as inept and weak rather than tragic or sympathetic. I wanted to push him off the highest peak at the earliest chance! Then we had to suffer scenes with the terribly miscast Misses French's...although David Tennant portrayed Mr. Gibson...the rivaling young women's love interest or "catch" with a great deal of humor.
Again a schizophrenia...the set design, cinematography, and costumes had the vigor of a traditional BBC production but the script seemed too contemporary for a Victorian classic...surprising from Andrew Davies who usually surpasses himself with a sharp talent to bring an audience into a different era. There was sufficient time to built the characters (the show is 240 min in 4 parts) but most fell terribly flat. I certainly hope this is not a harbinger to the next generation at the BBC because I will miss the old as much as I miss what used to be American news programs.
As the stories unfold over four episodes, however, they begin to fall apart. Some scenes are repeated again and again, simply in different settings, until one wonders if the actors even got confused. The interconnections of families is broken almost from the start, so the stories become ever more separate.
This is exacerbated by some very poor directorial and editorial choices. From a slow- moving, deeply "tortured" scene we jump to a brightly lit comedic farce. The jumps are jolting and remove the emotional punch. Some character arcs are never fully explained (one suspects they ended up on the cutting room floor), so some of the characters make choices that don't make much sense.
The casting was excellent and the lavish sets and costumes up to the usual BBC standards. It's unfortunate that a potentially compelling story ends up trivializing itself and ultimately looking silly.
This isn't even directed on decent soap opera level, which might have satisfied the time constraints. Why oh why must so many of the characters mug as they address the camera. With the exception of Anna Massey, the acting is dreadful, particularly the leading men, who look like they long to be in a rock opera or at least an early Disney Opus. A spoonful of medicine isn't enough for this travesty, I'm afraid.
As usual for Masterpiece Theater, the settings are lovely & the music is very loud.
Overall very gud movie/series well worth watching!
Not because it had a decent plot or any particularly good character development but because Laura Fraser was in it. I couldn't place her at first but i soon realised it was none other than Kate the blacksmith from A Knights Tale. Not only is she considerably more beautiful than anyone else in the film (especially the french sisters...), but she can act a hell of a lot better than most of them as well. I appreciate that most actors find it difficult to act in the pretentious voices, but why do it then? Is there really a shortage of people who can speak pretentiously? Who knows, point being, Laura stood out around the rest of them.
That piece of sycophancy aside, I think the problem with this period drama, like so many others, is its willingness to include so much plot at the expense of character development. Perhaps if there was only one girl trying to marry each man instead of half a dozen, we might understand better why she wanted to marry him. Or maybe I'm missing the point. It just seems to me that the girls always one day decide they love someone they've never spent any significant amount of time with, and thats it.
Anyway, as I say, its better than most, so if you like this sort of thing, You'll love this one.