I own both the 1985 and 2006 versions of Bleak House, a mini-series based on a Charles Dickens novel. This review pertains to the earlier one, starring Denholm Elliott and Diana Rigg.
I had bought this DVD shortly after reading the novel; I just couldn't wait to see it come alive on the screen. I was not disappointed, although certain things were changed and some parts of the plot edited out. The story centers around a prolonged and complicated lawsuit. It had began many years ago and pretty much came to a standstill; yet, none of the parties involved can disengage themselves from the exasperating court proceedings. John Jarndyce (Denholm Elliott), a respectable middle-aged gentleman, is one of the parties. He has long since given up on the case, and he warns his young cousins and wards, Richard and Ada, not to place their hope on it either. Unfortunately, the warning is lost on Richard; the young man dedicates himself to trying to win the case, which results in sad consequences.
Ester Summerson is another ward of John Jarndyce. Not involved in the court case, Ester has a story of her own. There is a mystery about her birth; she never knew anything about her parents, and from what her aunt had told her, it appears that Ester is an illegitimate child. Her aunt had died having kept the secret. However, there are scattered pieces of evidence that can lead to the truth, and there are people searching for it, unknown to Ester.
The mini-series is almost 7 hours long - 7 hours of unspoiled pleasure, if you are a fan of period dramas, like me. I have only a couple of very minor complaints: one secondary character was a little difficult to understand due to his (Cockney?) accent, and another character was still alive when in the book they were found dead (not that it is very significant, but I just saw no reason for such a change).