Sunday, 25 November 2012

Joanna Vanderham

I must admit I succumbed to BBC's The Paradise, adapted from Émile Zola's Au Bonheur des Dames (The Ladies' Paradise), a department store saga originally set in Paris. The show was full of flaws and irritating characters, presented a far too cheerful picture of working-class drudges forced to work a 12-hour day, had as its backdrop a street that always looked like a BBC set and reached an unbelievable denouement; but I was hooked by the subtle acting of Joanna Vanderham as Denise. I haven't seen such an enchanting performance since Claire Foy played Little Dorrit four years ago (CLICK). Why any woman should fall for unshaven, womanising, misogynist scruff Moray is beyond me. He does his best to fleece women of their husbands' wealth, is intent upon marrying into a rich family and has fathered and disowned a child by one of his shopgirls! If Denise wants him, she's welcome to him, but I expected more sense from her (CLICK). Series 2 in the offing?


At 30/11/12, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don’t agree with this review at all, least of all because it is not accurate. For example Moray didn’t father any children so I don’t know whether the author got that from. Clearly not from watching the series. The paradise was an absolutely amazing series and as for the description of the set, the set was fantastic and achieved on a very modest budget by the BBC.

I am so glad that a second series has been commissioned.

At 30/11/12, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

You seem to have missed the episode in which Moray decides to help the local orphanage. A cute little girl turns out to be the daughter of Clara, who was forced to put her into the orphanage in order to keep her job. She is short of money because she is trying to help pay for her daughter's keep. The child is Moray's from a short fling he had with Clara while married to his first wife. This is why Clara is Denise's rival and hates her so much at the beginning of the series.

Zola's novel was a hard-hitting expose of the way workers were treated. It's been turned into a rather cosy soap opera. Zola wrote a follow up in which Moray and Denise are married.

I'm also looking forward to a second series, but mainly for the charm of Joanna Vanderham as Denise, a shining new star.

At 1/12/12, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw the episode. In that episode it was established that Moray didn’t father the baby or any other children. He had only slept with Clara once, 18 months ago, and Clara’s daughter was much older. So Moray doesn’t have any children.
I found the whole cast fantastic, Joanna Vanderham included.

At 2/12/12, Blogger Coxsoft Art said...

The script didn't convince me Moray was childless. I received the impression that the sinister store detective silenced that story, true or not.

"The Paradise" is part of a long saga. The BBC turned Moray into a far more sympathetic character than he is, in order to creata a character we might identify with.

Au Bonheur des Dames is a sequel to Pot-Bouille, at the end of which Octave Mouret (Moray) married Caroline Hédouin, the owner of a small silk shop. He has turned it into a department store.

"In Pot-Bouille, Octave is depicted as a (sometimes inept) ladies' man who seduces or attempts to seduce women who can give him some type of material (social or financial) advantage. This characteristic is carried over in Au Bonheur des Dames. Here, he uses a young widow to influence a political figure (modeled after Baron Haussmann) in order to have frontage access to a huge thoroughfare...for the store." (The unconvincing BBC set; no huge thoroughfare, more a Victorian slum.)

Recognize the "young widow" whose father's money and influence Moray wants? She was turned into a petulant rich brat for the BBC soap opera, so we would want her to lose Moray. A young widow would have been too sympathetic for the BBC purpose.

"He (Moray) also inherits from his great-grandmother (Adelaïde Fouque or Tante Dide) a touch of what today might be called obsessive-compulsive disorder, manifested in his intense commercial drive and his obsession with dominating female consumers."

"Despite his contempt for women, Octave finds himself slowly falling in love with Denise, whose inability to be seduced by his charms further inflames him. The book ends with Denise admitting her love for Octave. Her marriage with Octave is seen as a victory of women over a man who refuses to be conquered and whose aim is to subjugate and exploit women using their own senses."

Quotes taken from Wikipedia:

Moray's heartbreak over the death of a woman he married for her silk shop doesn't convince me in the least.

And what about young Arthur, a foundling in the store? Why was he dumped there? Could he be another of Moray's bastards? Not for the BBC! Arthur is turned into a symbol of Moray's generosity. Ah!

I hope you also watched "Hunted", a much darker BBC programme. The evil East End gangster in that was played by the young widow's doting upper-class father in "The Paradise". Wow! What a difference! Great acting there.


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