The Mystery of Edwin Drood ~ Review

Charles Dickens’ The Mystery Of Edwin Drood is as enigmatic in real life as it is in fiction; the author’s death before its completion makes this early and fine example of a murder mystery even more of a whodunit? And the 2012 BBC television adaptation, featuring an all-star cast, is as gothic as Dickens gets. Now it is set to get its first ever DVD release courtesy of Second Sight.

Featuring a stellar cast including Matthew Rhys (The Americans), Freddie Fox (King Arthur: Legend of the Sword) and Tamzin Merchant (Jane Eyre), Dickens’ darkest novel is chillingly adapted for the screen by Gwyneth Hughes. It originally aired on BBC Two and it was released on DVD on Monday 6 November 2017.

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Here what’s TV & Movie Scene thought about the adaptation…

Star rating: *****

A Dickensian adaptation for television works best when the over-riding atmosphere created from the outset is dark, gloomy and poverty-stricken. The Mystery of Edwin Drood opens with this very scenario and there’s an added ‘bonus’ of unbridled violence too, in dream sequence. The series has been shot so cinematically that it would work superbly as a feature film. As a television drama it easily rivals its counterparts and my attention was captured, together with my imagination.

The cast are an ensemble de force, with Freddie Fox excelling in the role of the nonchalant Edwin Drood, he’s flippant, rude and seems to love himself. It feels highly unlikely that he will love his fiancée, Rosa (Tamzin Merchant) as much as he loves himself. Then there’s brooding John Jasper (Matthew Rhys) who has the long-time engaged seventeen year old under his wing, even though she’s ill at ease with the situation. The way in which Rosa describes her ‘relationship’ with Jasper when discussing the nature of their acquaintance with new friend Helena Landless (Amber Rose Revah), reminded me of that of Christine and the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera! The reference to music especially creating that image for me. 

With Julia McKenzie cast perfectly as Mrs Crisparkle and well matched with Rory Kinnear as her son, the Reverend – as well as Ellie Haddington as Mrs Puffer, Alun Armstrong as Hiram Grewgious and Ian McNiece as Mayor Sapsea, every scene is in exceptional pairs of hands.

 The inevitability of the seething jealousy felt by Jasper driving him to do the unspeakable is laced thickly through the first episode. However, even when the character’s dark thoughts are at their peak, the essence of Dickens is never lost.
I would watch this again, it’s a classic piece of television which I enjoyed more than I had anticipated I would. A hidden gem which passed me by when it aired on BBC Two but I’m so glad I’ve seen it now.
Click the image below to purchase a copy of the DVD which is out now.
 

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