Yesterday I watched the entire BBC mini-series of Scarlet and Black*, based on Stendhal’s classic, another classic that I had no idea what it was about. I was expecting something quite boring, like the kind of show where you expect to watch 15-30 minutes and give up on it because it’s so boring. I was gifted with a very nice surprise!
The series, the story, and the acting are quite strong and engaging, and often witty, the pace is energetic, and the Napoleon device/dialogue is perhaps the most clever element of it all! Very sharp political and social criticisms as well. All around it was quite engaging. And there is lots of material to think about patriarchy, which was interesting :-). I also greatly enjoyed how different the characters are from each other. And they are so representative of that society! Not an easy world – just like ours.
It’s only at the end that it goes all 1830s on you and then it’s ridiculous. I kept waiting for that last twist but, alas, it doesn’t happen. Not that I had great expectations, but still, I thought there was a small chance. When he basically decides to kill himself – and what a great political speech, by the way -, I thought oh, here we go, they’re all going to kill themselves now. I bet she (the older woman) is going to throw herself off that cliff near her mansion. I was close.
And also, it didn’t make much sense to me why she would be so crazy about him, even long afterwards. Her psychology didn’t seem to be that unstrung. Then again the novel was written by a man, no?
I usually have low expectations for these famous writers because I often find their novels so passé and boring and not something I can relate to, especially from a psychological level. But here I found the opposite.
Scarlet and Black is a British four-part television drama series first aired in 1993 by the BBC with a cast including Ewan McGregor and Rachel Weisz. The series was adapted by Stephen Lowe from the novel The Red and the Black (1830) by French writer Stendhal. The story follows an ambitious, but impoverished young man, who seduces women of high social standing in order to improve his prospects; an Icarus of the post-Napoleonic era.