My Family and Other Animals
Readers of “My Family and Other Animals” might near this BBC adaptation with some reluctance. How could the producers ever hope to order the wisdom and humour of Gerald Durrell’s book into 90 minutes? An ideal adaptation should probably be at least four hours, if not more but this film does not do badly.
The casting was well done with Imelda Stauton (who starred in Vera Drake) being a perfect choice for as Mrs. Durrell. Spiro and Theo appear exactly as I would record them as are Larry’s impossible friends. Gerald is well cast and his curiosity in nature is brought to the film but there is no time to deal with the animals individually. We can contemplate that Gerald has an owl but we don’t score any details about him. The scene with the scorpions is in the film and nicely brought off and the Rose-Beetle Man is perfectly done. The actor’s have done a great job in capturing the personalities of the Durrell family and the magical beauty of Corfu is nicely conveyed as Gerald investigates the island with his dog Roger.
There are so many comical episodes for the writers to settle from that I am certain some viewers will be somewhat dismayed that their popular was not grasp. The magpies have their five minutes in the film but their antics are not as clearly drawn as they are in the book. They do raid Larry’s room but we do not learn about how Larry was trying to support them out, and we do not regain to inspect them calling after Spiro as he sets out on yet another errand.
So, I found this version of “My Family and Other Animals” to be a delight but I wish it was longer. I could not benefit but recalling episodes that were not included or cleave short. I do recommend the film as it captures the essence of Gerald Durrell’s book; it is unbiased a slash of the book but a fairly satisfactory helping.
Gerald Durrell grew up to be a celebrated naturalist, animal-collector and conservationist. Over his lifetime he wrote thirty-seven books, went on dozens of animal-collecting trips and presented numerous television shows including The Amateur Naturalist and Ourselves and Other Animals. For those who have read Durrell’s books or at least know of him, the latest Masterpiece Theatre film (currently screening on PBS) of his fable My Family and Other Animals, will be a trusty treat.
Quirky, droll and also graceful to seek, the film stars Imelda Staunton as Gerald’s mother and the hunky Matthew Goode as Larry, his older brother, and most of the action takes situation in the picaresque island of Corfu. The Durrell family is indeed eccentric. Imbued with a sense of adventure and totally fed up with the shadowy English weather, they pack themselves off Corfu where they’re soon adopted by Spiro, the only English-speaking taxi driver on the island (Omid Djalili) .
Unfortunately Mum doesn’t have worthy faith as a parent and she tends to let her collection of eccentric kids rule the roost. She spoils and indulges them. Larry (Goode) spends as mighty time a he can with a glass of wine and conversation as he does at his transportable typewriter, constantly passing acidic judgments over everyone else. Second son Leslie (Russell Tovey) thinks of himself as a big-time hunter, firing shots around whenever and wherever he can and always getting on everyone’s nerves.
The teenage daughter modern faced and blond haired Margo (Tamzin Merchant) thinks of nothing but boys, while the youngest 12-year-old Gerald (Eugene Simon) constantly brings home live animals to peek in cages in his room, mighty to the chagrin of Larry and the rest of the family – the scene where a couple of magpies occupy over Larry’s bedroom is absolutely precious. Gerald spends most of his time spurning his mother’s attempts to educate him; he’d occupy to speed around the countryside, often sleeping outdoors observing nature with a frosty and calculated wonderment.
Although there isn’t distinguished of a site – most of the myth momentum comes from enthralling from one villa to another – the film is never humdrum because of the extraordinary characters, the hastily writing, and the improbable island vistas. The Durrells must not only reach to terms with a original and unique culture, but they must also save up with each other’s foibles, and worthy of the film is made up of how each family member clashes often with unforeseen results.
Into their oddball lives approach various island characters who orbit around them, sometimes briefly, sometimes longer, most important is the enigmatic Rose Beetle Man, (Dimitkis Kaberidis) . Larry’s whiny eccentric friends appal everyone, and Leslie shoots his gun off objective once too often. Of course, it’s 1935 and paradise can’t last forever. War with Germany is looming and although Mom doesn’t want to hear it, and neither do her unconventional flock, she realizes that eventually she must fetch them succour to England.
Director Sheree Folkson certainly makes the most of the graceful Greek vistas, and the 1930′s period detail, and one really gets the sense that the Durrell’s really were living an idyllic existence. Subtly is the name of the game in this production – Staunton effectively downplays her eccentricities as do the other actors, consequently the family’s exclusive quirks are endearing and never become irritating or grating.
My Family and Other Animals is an quick-witted and humorous film about the importance of family and also about tolerating one’s sibling eccentricities. The Durrell family seems fair yell to fair let it all happen and though many will wish that more of the family’s mishaps had made it into the film, what is incorporated is collected an affectionate and funny admire.
Mike Leonard June 06.