Review: Burton & Taylor

Really enjoyed the Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton bio-pic/drama on BBC the other evening, as I knew I would.

(click images for larger slideshow)

Helena Bonham-Carter was excellent as Liz and Dominic West got Burton’s voice down pretty well I thought. The explosive nature of their relationship was captured very well. You could see they were utterly in love with one another – and yet, they couldn’t really live with one another. Each had too big a personality and they both seemed such dominant types.

The very sad news, though, is that this drama was the last in BBC4’s long lineup of docu-dramas, many of which I have blogged about on this site over recent years. Why? ‘Budget cuts’.  My suggestion to the BBC is that if you want to cut budgets – get rid of that awful BBC3. Anyway, this Guardian journalist pretty much sums up my own thinking on the subject:

Budget cuts, they say: yet the BBC’s coverage of the royal birthing was batshit-crazy. They had a chuffing helicopter hovering over Paddington. I wept hot salt tears for Nicholas Witchell’s degradation: no longer a man, but a souffle of gingered hagiography, despised by all, especially the royals. Why does he do it? The BBC’s coverage of this week’s “events”, I would respectfully suggest, was pornographic, in that it diddled, and titillated, and mirrored real life in no way whatsoever.

Hum ho. Dom West was pretty good, as I said: the careful timbre of his voice got Burton’s chocolate-threat to a T. As did HBC’s swaying mad vowels. They could, obviously, only use the voices, though they tried their best to do the looks. No one today, sadly, can look like Richard Burton; and only a very few like Liz Taylor. But there was a wizarding chemistry between these two actors, and, briefly, we were transported to 1983, before he died and she went a bit tootsie, and when disco was also in need of a savage wash of brine. And we were able to recall the joy/misery, insert as applicable, of falling, tumbling, into love with someone who was quite, quite needy or quite, quite addicted. And – it’s the definition of insanity apparently – doing it over and over again, both unwilling and unable to forget your mistake. It (West/Bonham Carter) was a towering performance, as was the Taylor/Burton thing, in life. Source: Guardian

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