2014 is my year to focus on Judi Dench’s movies. I’ve challenged myself to watch and review one a month. I was inspired by the actress’ performance in Philomena. I enjoyed it so much that it made me want to go back and sample as many of her best movies as possible.
In 2009 I read Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford. It was a charming story about village life in 1840s England. The village was run primarily by women. They had certain social rules and courtesies that must be followed. Primarily, they tried to do the right thing for one another. Their little world was upset when changes occurred whether they were life’s natural changes or man-made ones.
When I looked at the list of Judi Dench’s movies and saw Cranford, I decided immediately I would watch it. I wanted to compare the book and the movie. What I found was a nice combination. The movie was a great compliment to the book.
Let me say first that Cranford is actually a BBC made-for-TV movie, produced in 2007. Judi Dench plays the role of Miss Matty, one of four women who meet daily to discuss events and people. She is the one they look up to because Miss Matty always seeks to find the best solution for everyone.
The group often feels compelled to “intervene” with what others are doing. They definitely like observing and encouraging a romance. When it comes to a big change, like bringing the railroad to town, they are anything but enthusiastic. They do whatever they can to stop it.
Eventually, Miss Matty sees how a big change like the railroad can halt progress and send the young people of the town away. One of the best parts of the movie is watching Miss Matty and her friends ride a short distance on a train.
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. As soon as it was done I wanted to watch it again. Do you know that feeling? The movie enhanced the story because it fleshed out some of the book’s story lines. There were also more characters in the movie. And, of course, a movie has the advantage of showing us the landscape, buildings, furnishings and the costumes.
Judi Dench played Miss Matty just as I imagined her to be. She was soft and loving, as well as thoughtful and practical. She could be persuaded but she was even better at persuading others.
The rest of the cast complimented Miss Dench and each other. I especially like seeing Jim Carter (Mr. Carson from Downton Abbey) as well as Michelle Dokery (Mary from Downton Abbey). An outstanding performance was given by Eileen Adkins. She played the role of Deborah Jenkyns. Cranford’s actors, director, costume designers, and so forth made this a movie I can recommend. My dvd copy came from my local library. Check out your library.
This was the fourth movie I’ve watched this year in which Judi Dench plays a key role. There are many more. I’ll keep watching and telling you about it.