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The Dwelling Place

The Dwelling Place

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The Dwelling Place – Set in the 1830’s, the film tells the story of 16-year-old Cissie Brodie after the death of parents, and the repossession of the family home. She finds a barren place to live and care for her younger brothers and sisters with the help of Matthew, a local carpenter, but her life becomes complicated when the aristocratic Fischel family take an unwelcome interest.

Ideal winter Sunday afternoon viewing……………

Featuring a magisterial performance from Miss T.Whitwell as Cissie,oldest of her surviving siblings thrown out of a tied cottage on the death of their parents in the North – East of England in 1837. Determined to avoid the dreaded workhouse she takes them to a cave on the fells which she turns into their home. Loved by a kindly but weak flourmill worker who marries the miller’s daughter for her money,and raped by a weak,drunken aristo(egged on by his appalling sister – a recurring theme in Miss Cookson’s work),she becomes pregnant and gives birth to the heir to a baronetcy who becomes the object of an epic struggle. Cissie makes pragmatic decisions with everybody’s interest but her own paramount. Unlikely though it may be in our more enlightened age,she forgives her rapist and agrees to marry him,thus legitimising her son. Simple enough stuff then,put like that,but “The dwelling-place” glitters with fine performances and conveys the atmosphere of early Industrial Revolution England,although mention is made of the new Queen,Victoria,whose reign would have just begun. “Catherine Cookson Presents” is a well – made series with good production values,fine performances and a pleasing repertory company of actors to ensure the high standard is maintained. “The Dwelling Place” is an excellent example.

The novel is far but the film isn’t bad.

The Dwelling Place is a wonderful novel which covers some 20 years and provides meaningful character development. By trying to cram the story into three years, the film presents Cissie and Clive as foolish and weak–people who clearly are not ready for the suddenly happy ending the screenwriter contrives for them. After picturing the strong-minded and orderly Cissie of the book, the actress selected for the part seemed all wrong to me. She seldom portrayed dignity, she smiled too much, and her witch-like tangle of hair had nothing in common with Cissie’s shining braids. The actor portraying Clive looked like a weak-chinned villain, not the Clive of the book whose appearance and character are hardened by his experiences at sea. One other major discrepancy: In the book Cissie has three or four small children to feed; that is why the older children must go out and work. In the film, there was no reason for her to stay at home and send them all out to bring in money. The English countryside enhanced the film, and credit goes to the actors who perfectly portrayed Matthew, the evil Isobel, and the rejected miller’s wife.

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