I have wanted to do a deep-dive review of Daniel Deronda (2002) because it’s an interesting story that’s well acted and has AMAZE-BALLS early 1870s costumes. But there are so many of those amaze-balls costumes that I’ve been daunted! I finally decided to get off my butt and do this, but the only way I’m going to be able to do it is to split things up into each of the four episodes, because there are Just That Many Costumes and they are almost all That Fabulous.
First, I’ll refer you to my incredibly short review for my thoughts on the plot:
We love the BBC! An adaptation of George Eliot’s novel, this is a dark story about selfishness (and unselfishness), domestic abuse, Judaism, and REALLY GOOD BUSTLE DRESSES. Set in the early 1870s, Romola Garai as Gwendolen Harleth has SUCH GOOD CLOTHES IT’S OUTSTANDING. Jodhi May is wonderful as Mira, and Hugh Dancy is cute and earnest and sweet.
Romola Garai plays the intelligent, beautiful, spoiled-yet-wanting-something-more Gwendolen. In this episode, she briefly meets Daniel Deronda (Hugh Dancy), the illegitimate son of a nobleman, while casino-ing somewhere on the continent. Back in England, she uses her wiles to get what she wants from her family, but it’s never good enough. She meets super rich, super ominous Henleigh Grandcourt (amazingly played by Hugh Bonneville) and has to make some tough decisions.
And now, onwards to the costumes, because that’s the thing to love here! The original novel was published in 1876, but I feel like the costumes are a bit earlier — 1872-74ish? — since they still have a bit of hoop going on. They were designed by Mike O’Neill (Love in a Cold Climate, The Last King, North & South, Elizabeth I, and Mansfield Park), who passed away last year.
Romola Garai said of working with O’Neill on this production,
“Mike’s artistry, ambition, use of colour and attention to detail” helped her find her character. “The intense weight, stifling tightness of the dresses, the feeling of being strangled by the most beautiful flowering shrub, taught me more about that character and her impossible prison than hours of rehearsals could have achieved. The extraordinary beauty and complexity of his vision for Gwendolen left a powerful impression on me: young and a bit lost in the industry and in need of inspiring and kind teachers” (Mike O’Neill: 1945-2018).
And now, let’s get into those costumes!
Do you love Daniel Deronda‘s 1870s costumes as much as I do? Discuss!