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Gormenghast (series) * Andy Wilson * 2000

Many years ago I fell into these series when they were broadcasted by the BBC. I believe that I joined with the second episode. I loved the elaborate stages and costumes, the weird atmosphere and characters and that fictional historical twist. Around that time I was in the UK and saw Gormenghast goodies of all kinds, so I asumed that it was a big thing over there and would probably become here too, so the series would most likely be picked up by a Dutch station. Not so! Some years in wait for a repeat on the BBC also proved to be vein, so for all these years I had these series in mind, hoping to run into them on DVD some time. Every once in a while I checked if the series were available on DVD, found out that “Gormenghast” is actually a pretty popular series of three books (that are available in Dutch), but no DVD. When in New York a couple of weeks ago, we were in the Virgin Megastore, I checked for Gormenghast and finally I found it! Not cheap, but who cares with this Dollar/Euro-rate? Seeing the series again after seven years, I remember quite a few things from them, but I also forgot a lot. Gormenghast remains a magnificent and expensive BBC production with outrageous visuals and a nice atmosphere, but it doesn’t blow me away like it did when I first saw it. I guess the many years of waiting have risen my expectations a bit too much. In any case, Gormenghast is about a castle complex with a crazy queen and a more even crazy staff leading it. One low-life boy works himself up on the ladder and starts to sabotage the system. This results in the most amusing scenes, oddest dialogues and weirdest situations, making Gormenghast a pleasure to watch. Four episodes of about an hour to enjoy (I thought there were more…). The DVDs are not too easy to get. You will have to order them from the US or UK or find some import shop. I haven’t found any non-English versions (with subtitles for example), but I’m glad that I was finally able to watch these series again.
For those who know the books I have to add that the series are based on only the first two books (from 1946 and 1950) of three (five were planned) and that Steerpike has been promoted to main character instead of Titus. From the Wikipedia summery of the books, it seems that the series are further based on them only losely.

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