Saturday, January 9, 2016

Movie Spotlight: The Inheritance (1997)

Lately the name of a certain costume drama has been floating around this place, to wit, Lark Rise to Candleford. Many feeling terms have been applied to it (one of which coming to mind is Favorite Period Drama Ever), but that's not quite accurate, because before LRTC there was (and still is)... The Inheritance! And The Inheritance really is truly nearly perfect.

Firstly now, a synopsis:

Edith Adelon lives as the companion to the daughter of a wealthy family. Her life is a happy one, only slightly clouded by the knowledge that someday she will have to leave the only place that has ever been home to her. But time has a way of beginning things before you know it. A friend of the family, James Percy comes to ride in one of the greatest events in the neighborhood, the Greenscup. He and Edith connect in their love of horses and Edith soon finds herself falling in love with the very man specially “imported” to marry the shrewish cousin of the family. This cousin soon becomes a conniving enemy who will stop at no deceit to ruin Edith's chance at happiness.

And that is my own description and I'm really rather pleased with it, which is exceedingly nice. :)

The Music - Simply put, it is cantering put to music. Just listening, you can almost feel the musical inflection of the horse beneath you. Lyrical, thrilling and totally romantic, it whisks you away into the magic of olden days.

Sets and Scenery - Are so beautiful! I have little idea of where it is actually supposed to be set, but it looks like it must be in the South somewhere or it might be in California. The house looks very Spanish-inspired from the outside. But the exact locations don't really matter, because it's not really about accuracies, but just utter loveliness. And the overall coloring is so lovely: dusty brown and golden with tints of rose and just a general golden glow.

The Costumes - Bustles, riding outfits, ruffled ballgowns... it's all a pure delight. :) I talked more about most of my favorite dresses in this post. One I didn't mention was Edith's ballgown, which is creamy, ruffled and simply elegant. And her hair is so gorgeous. Could anything be more refreshingly lovely? The men's garb (i.e. James's) as it ranges from practical riding clothes to distinguished evening wear, is also positively wonderful.

The Characters -

Edith Adelon - I love how her humor and gentleness is coupled with just enough spice to make her terribly fun without being feisty. She knows uncertainty at times, but is always confident in truth. She's constantly inspiring while yet making you feel she would be the jolliest of chums. :)

James Percy – First, let us have a moment of silence. His name!!! Isn't it the neatest thing? Louisa May Alcott did have a knack for perfect names. :) Handsome and accomplished, he knows just how to put a shy person at ease (let alone knowing how to handle an overly-interested-young-lady) and his character is truly beautiful. He has everything a true man can and should have. A man that can be respected, with patience and just enough dash to make him very fun. :)

James and Edith together – First their meeting: oh, the sweetness... I can hardly bear it! So quiet and unassuming and there is a HORSE – his horse – there, too. Could it be better? In fact, could any of their relationship be better? The entire thing is simply beautiful, as in tear-worthily beautiful. And as their love grows – on a base of mutual interests and friendship – it will clearly be one for a full and joyful lifetime together.

Mr. And Mrs. Hamilton - The couple who have raised Edith. You know what I said about James and Edith? Well, here it is about twenty-some years later! They are different people, so it no doubt looks a little different than James and Edith's will, but it still has the wonderfulness factor. The humor between them is hilarious. And she is such an elegant and thorough gentlewoman. Honestly, she is really one of my favorite movie characters. Their daughter Amy – the young lady Edith is companion to – is truly bubbly and sweet, treating Edith much more like a sister than anything else.

The Villains... Are truly terrible! I mean, they must be on the list of the Worst Period Drama Villains Ever: sophisticated, cunning, and altogether simply infuriating.

And hence, some of the parts you should know about: Basically, the villain tries to force a kiss on Edith and there's a scuffle, but he gets his just deserts. The whole part is really easy to see coming. Also, some of the villainess's dresses especially are fairly low-cut.

So I reach the end of a review and once again words fail me. How do I adequately write of something where the glow of beauty is more felt than anything else: with the ache of sympathy as Edith meets and undergoes all the pain and misunderstanding that any true Cinderella knows, and then the deep bubbling joyful glow when she meets her “prince” and at last finds 'home.' It's all entirely heart-wrenching, romantic, and utterly beautiful!

Note: This review was first posted for Heidi's Cinderella Week and Miss Laurie's 2016 Period Drama Challenge!


  1. I love this film; there story is sweet, the uncle is hilarious, and the music, scenery, and clothing is gorgeous (I think the costumes are some of my favorites ever; I think that period is one of my favorites in style. This is the period the Anne books were supposed to be; the movies set them later, more at the time her children were grown up). I read the book (set in a different time and country), and I have to say this is one of the few circumstances where I prefer the movie.

    1. Livia Rachelle,
      I 100% agree with EVERYTHING you said about this story! The uncle is priceless! I think bustles might just be my favorite, too and that is very interesting about the Anne books! The book is much different than the movie, isn't it?

  2. Eeek, Eowyn, I now NEED to see this film! I read the book awhile ago and liked it pretty well but the movie looks absolutely charming!! Have you read the book? Do the book and movie differ much, do you think?
    And oh you did a really good job on the synopsis. It sounded like a "real" synopsis, to me! :D

    1. Yes you must indeed, Natalie!
      I have read the book and -- though it was years ago (hee hee, doesn't that make me sound old? :)) -- I remember thinking it was cute. They differ in is so many ways that they almost seem like different stories, but I may have to do some sort of comparison post once I get the book from the library. I'm super interested to hear what you think, too!

      One thing I forgot to mention is that Mr. Hamilton does use a few swear words, but besides that it is as completely charming as you say!

      Thank you! Synopses can be great fun to write. :)

    2. Eowyn.
      Guess what? I was able to get this from the library and just watched it today! It's not a new favorite or anything (sorry!), but I did enjoy it very much. I certainly wouldn't be adverse to watching it again. :)

      Edith was such a lovely heroine-and James!-and Lewis! I'm really glad he confessed and returned the jewelry because I liked him very much from the start. :)

      And, despite the aforementioned language, I found Mr. Hamilton a really wonderful character. He was so kind to Edith!

      While watching, I tried to remember the differences in the book, but I couldn't really recall. I'm looking forward to your comparison post, when and if you do it!

      All in all, this was such a lovely film. Not to mention the costumes-especially Edith's-were sooo pretty. Actually, it was mostly ONLY Edith's that I liked. And her hair! I'm quite jealous of it. :)

      Going back to a previous subject, James was really wonderful. :) I agree with all your thoughts on him in your post!

    3. Natalie,
      No, that's just fine! But just as a matter of curiosity, what parts didn't quite ring right to you?

      I'm so glad you like James and Edith -- what is that that Mr. Hamilton says about Edith? - "(they) are some of the most decent people I know." That's not near an exact quote, but you understand the idea. :)

      I just finished the book this afternoon and oh my, the movie was way more different in some ways than I remembered, while keeping some little "cameos" from the book that were really fun to connect!

      Thank you so much for your thrillingly long comment. :)

    4. Eowyn,
      Well, I think the major thing was that the writing seemed a at times. I would have said that the ACTING seemed a bit off, but I realized that since it was just a few moments that I felt something lacking, it was probably the script, not the actors. I guess the scenes that were supposed to be emotional just weren't QUITE there for me. Now, I tend to have to watch movies twice in order to form a solid opinion, so I may think differently if I watch it again.

      Yes!! That's so true. They truly are such decent people-but decent isn't even strong enough to describe how genuinely kind and caring they are. :)

      That is fun when they keep small scenes in a book-to-movie adaption!

    5. Natalie,
      I totally get what you mean by sometimes having to see a movie twice to form a clear judgement! I might have actually mentioned this case to you before, but the first time I watched Ever After I found certain parts so startling that I hardly liked the movie at all, much less enjoyed it, but re-watching it just a few weeks ago I rather liked it. :)

      I greatly enjoyed reading your thoughts, friend!

    6. Aww, glad you can relate! Haha, I'm glad you like Ever After now! It is funny how some stories hit you right away as a favorite, and others take some time. :)

  3. Beautiful review!!

    I really need to see this movie! I can't believe I haven't watched it before, being a period drama fan and a fan of Louisa May Alcott's works. Awesome job, Eowyn!

    1. Faith,
      Thank you so much for your sweet comment! I hope you can review it if you do get to watch it! I'd love to read it. :)

  4. This turned out just lovely, dear... :) It's gorgeous!! ;D

  5. How is that I have never heard of this? Or read the book?!?!?! Wow. My library has the book, so I'm going to try that first, then see if I can find the movie. Thanks for the great review!

    1. Hamlette,
      I first discovered this at my Grammy's house, but until then (though I had read the book) I had never heard one inkling of the movie! Where was it hiding??? I hope you can find it soon, because it has lots with horses and whatnot (which adding a touch of "western" to a period drama is terribly fun) and is utterly delightful!!!

  6. This film IS beautiful. Despite it being dated, the acting and costumes are stunning, and I do feel like it's far and above a wonderful improvement on the book. The relationships are also fabulous - and I like that you mention James and Edith's meeting. It's lovely.

    In short, this is still to this day, these many years later one of my most favorite costume dramas. So elegant and refined. One to watch over and over again. :)

    1. Rissi,
      Elegant and refined are the very words to describe it best!

      BTW: Thank you so much for all of your comments, they seriously made my day! :)


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