Director: Mira Nair
Cast: Gabriel Byrne, Angelica Mandy, Roger Lloyd-Pack, Ruth Sheen, Kate Fleetwood, Reese Witherspoon, Lillete Dubey, Romola Garai, Tony Maudsley, Deborah Findlay, John Frankly-Robbins, Paul Bazely.
Mira Nair’s 2004 film ‘Vanity Fair’ was the latest in a long line of adaptations of the original novel for both the small and large screen. William Makepeace Thackeray ’s mid 19th Century novel tells the tale of Becky Sharpe, a cunning social climber who has completed her studies at the school for young ladies and is ready to take on the world. The title is a reference to John Bunyan ’s classic Christian novel ‘Pilgrims Progress’, Vanity Fair is a place featured in the book.
Reece Witherspoon takes on the role of Becky Sharpe in the 2004 film version. She is supported by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, James Purefoy, Gabriel Byrne, Eileen Atkin and Bob Hoskins . The film follows the life of Becky for around two decades at about the time of the Napoleonic Wars , during which time she attempts to rise from her poor orphaned start. Using everything she has learnt from her governess at the home for girls, she makes a determined attempt to climb through the social strata. Despite some attractive names in the cast and the addition of a happy ending, the film received a moderate reception from the critics and the public alike.
The film takes in a number of choice locations from around the England. One such location is the beautiful West Country city of Bath in Somerset. This picturesque city is a World Heritage Site, featuring historical interest spanning Roman to Georgian times. Bath is used in the place of London for many scenes within the film, including the scene where Becky first arrives in London (the street is actually Great Pulteney Street in Bath). There are also some scenes filmed at locations within London, including Chiswick House . Also seen is the Old Royal Naval College at Greenwich which has been a popular location for films in the last few decades.
Not far from Central London and both of which also can be seen in Vanity Fair are the locations of Hampton Court Palace , famous for its palace and gardens, and the Chatham Historic Dockyard .
The interiors of Gaunt House are borrowed from Wrotham Park in Barnet, Hertfordshire, just a short drive northwards out of London. Also featuring in the film from Hertfordshire is the home of the 7th Marquess of Salisbury, Hatfield House . The Jacobean House and Garden were built in the 17th Century and are both palatial and breathtakingly spectacular. The magnificent setting hosts many events throughout the year, including concerts, flower festivals and historical displays.
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