I watched the majority of Part I last night on YouTube, thanks to the posted videos I linked. And I have to say...I rather enjoyed it. Granted, perhaps I would feel differently if it was focused on the lives of William Morris, Jane, and Edward Burne-Jones (my personal icons within the PRB), but although I shook my head a bit at some of the liberties, I felt it was still a good show.
To get them out of the way, a few things that bothered me.
- The music was just horrible. During even slightly witty scenes, I half expected a 'wah wah wah' trumpet to start playing. Quite distracting, I thought.
- The length of time it took for the PRB to create their masterpieces was totally shoved under the carpet. It was implied that works like Christ in the House of His Parents were created virtually overnight in a rush for the fictional exhibition. I understand that rushing things for the sake of the story line happens constantly in film, but this just irked me a bit.
- The whole scene with Ruskin checking out the PRB's work, and the fact that Ruskin so despised Rossetti's work at that meeting. From everything I've seen, Ruskin encouraged Rossetti's genius. Also, Dante comes off as an utterly talentless hack who is only transformed into talent through Lizzie.
- The portrayal of Ruskin and his relationship with Effie. This particular love triangle is one of my favorite in PRB history, since it has such a lovely happy ending (at least for poor Effie). I thought they portrayed Ruskin's conflicted thoughts on womanhood, and Effie's sad confusion over her husband's actions quite well.
- Lizzie Siddal! Everyone has commented how grateful they are to the production that Lizzie is portrayed as intelligent and strong-willed, instead of a drooping wallflower with half-closed lids. Of course, within the production, this is probably in part to emphasize the change that comes over her as her laudanum addiction worsens.
Overall, the show takes numerous liberties with the historical story of the Pre-Raphaelites when there's really no need to at all. But does it distract from the overall story of these determined young talented men who so revolutionized the art world of their day? I am, overall, thankful for this production, which I hope will spark more interest in the Brotherhood and their fascinating lives.