Monday, January 30, 2006

Tipping the Velvet: DVD Review

Tipping the Velvet (2002) is the BBC mini-series adaptation of the novel by Sarah Waters, telling the story of Nan--a working class girl in 1890s England--who falls in love with a travelling music hall performer, a male impersonator named Kitty. Nan (played by Rachel Stirling, the daughter and spitting-image of British actress Diana Rigg) eventually follows Kitty to London where they form a double act, and during her journey--from the gutter to stardom and back down to the gutter again--Nan experiences and sees every aspect and level of the lesbian underworld in late Victorian London.

The series that the BBC has produced from Waters' novel is excellent. The budget isn't huge, but the producers have done a lot with a little, making interesting, believable characters.

At just three episodes, the series does feel a little rushed. Events that were developed in more detail in the novel are all but glossed over in the series. I was surprised at one point when Nan said, "I had fallen from celebrated star of the London stage to penniless street urchin." In the television version, the "star of London stage" phase seemed to last about a day or two. (The novel covers a period in Nan's life of about seven years.)

Nonetheless, the mileiu in which the story takes place is always interesting, never ceasing to surprise and interest without ever seeming to exagerate or overdramatize: Waters accurately depicted a subculture that, by its very nature, had very few contemporary documentarians and the series does the same. The series is a fascinating, intriguing and involving soap opera, a mash-up of Masterpiece Theater and Girls Gone Wild, a historical drama that examines the way in which desires that had been sublimated, unspoken by society for so long slowly began to coalesce into a subculture which pushed late Victorian society into modernity.

FilmStocker Rating: B+


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome back. I hope you had a fun time!! When will we here about your adventures on Tybee Island?

10:42 AM  
Blogger FilmStocker said...

I'm preparing my post about Tybee and I'll have it up asap!

2:14 PM  

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