Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: The Buccaneers

My mom and I went to Borders one evening. We searched among the DVDs for some bargains, but couldn't find any until I saw a wall with a bunch of bargains. We looked at them and saw The Buccaneers, which we both heard about, but didn't know anything about, but for $15, we decided to try it.

Four "new money" American girls, Virginia St. George, Nan St. George (Carla Gugino), Conchita Closson, and Lizzy Elmsworth, cannot get into upper New York society until Nan's governess, Laura Testvalley, suggests that they try a season in England. The girls go over to England and find themselves husbands, however marriage to rich Englishmen is not what they expected. Nan makes the best marriage materially, but she becomes very unhappy and finds that she loves Guy Thwait (Greg Wise).

I really only recognized two of the cast. I recognized Carla Gugino (Nan) from Night at the Museum and Greg Wise (Guy Thwait) from both Sense and Sensibility and Cranford. The rest of the cast seemed to be new to me (although I thought the actor that played Lord Richard, who marries Conchita early in the miniseries, was Alan Rickman, but he just looked a lot like him).

The Buccaneers: Conchita, Lizzy,
Nan, and Virginia
For the first part of the movie, the girls act... well, like little girls. It seemed that all they do is run around outside and tumble down hills. If they wanted to show them having fun, they should have done so that was more becoming of adults, not three year olds. I suppose if they wanted to show them running around outside maybe once in a while, but it seemed like for the first half of the miniseries that was all they did. It was kind of hard to take them seriously.

It seemed like at the end, either no one got what they wanted, no one was happy, or someone was happy, but got this happiness through scandalous behavior. None of these characters were good role models, which, for me at least, makes it extremely difficult to relate to any of the characters and hence I have a hard time liking the movie. Even Miss Testvalley, who I liked at first because she seemed like she had a good head on her shoulders, started to make bad judgments and became less likable towards the end.
As usual, BBC does a great job with picking great scenery. The story shifts between America and England. Both places have great houses, more so in England where all the aristocrats live. There is a brief outdoor scene by a house near the sea. The houses are very big and nicely furnished. The only problem I had was in one house, there was a room full of immodest paintings. I understand that a lot of paintings had that style, and it would be one thing if they were in the room and not focused on for too long, but there were multiple scenes where the pictures are viewed (and zoomed in upon and examined). I didn't particularly care for that at all. Excepting that one part, there is very lovely scenery in this miniseries.

Nan and Miss Testvalley
Hit and miss. Sometimes, they did look nice, but there were other times that they did not look that great. This story takes place during the bustle era of the Victorian era (early 1870's). Some of the clothes that they picked for Nan did not flatter her at all; other times, she looked alright, but there were just some of those times where she was not flattered by her clothes. Whatever they were doing before when she looked alright, they should have done that throughout the miniseries.

Overall: 0.5/5
I will come out and say this bluntly: this movie is definately not for children. There are many adult topics discussed and there were some very mature scenes. From what I read, these added scenes were not in the original novel, which leads me to this question: "Why did they add them in the first place?" Those additional scenes, from what I have read, were why this film was controversial; I can see why. While some costumes were alright and the scenery did afford some nice color (hence why it didn't get a flat 0), they were not enough to save this film. The characters become increasingly dislikable as the series went on. I wouldn't really recommend this film.

The Buccaneers is available on DVD. It runs for 212 minutes.

Pictures from here.


  1. Oh dear, I'm sorry you spent 3 1/2 hours on it if it wasn't worth it! :( I had rather liked the cover and hoped it was similar to a Jane Austen, but I guess I won't watch it after all. Thanks for the warnings!

  2. I loved "THE BUCCANEERS". It is one of my favorite miniseries of all time.

    Charity U, why not find out for yourself if it is worth watching. So what if it is not completely faithful to Wharton's novel. No television or movie adaptation is. Give it a shot.


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