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A&E re-releases some of its most recognizable British titles on this new standard-def compilation....
A&E / 576 Minutes / 1996-2001 / Unrated / Street Date: September 18, 2012
A switched-up repackage of some of A&E's most reliably popular programming, this Romance Collection: Special Edition is everything one might think it would be on DVD. Colin Firth's Pride & Prejudice (2001) on Blu-ray was a revelation, so the idea of reverting to a standard-def presentation of it is unthinkable, but if you're without high-def capability, the version included here is at least the 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen edition.
We also get some newer material here that hasn't been included on earlier A&E Romance Collection sets. Victoria & Albert (2001) is a dramatization of the courtship and marriage of Queen Victoria (Victoria Hamilton) and Prince Albert (Jonathan Firth), and we also get two miniseries from 2000: The Great Gatsby starring Mira Sorvino and Paul Rudd, and The Magnificent Ambersons with Madeleine Stowe and James Cromwell. Also here are some reliable older miniseries: Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre (1997) with Samantha Morton and Ciaran Hinds, Jane Austen's Emma (1996) starring a totally young Kate Beckinsale, and two Thomas Hardy presentations - Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1998) and The Mayor of Casterbridge (1998), also starring Ciaran Hinds.
Viewers without a significant affection for this kind of retro, book-club-inspired literary fare will snooze through this entire affair, but for Anglophiles who love their classics, there's no reason to resist this new Romance Collection. Some of these programs deserve restorations (Pride's new version really blows the rest out of the water), but you pick this collection from the shelf and swoon with opulent, bookish glee at the thought of spending hours and hours with these noble Anglo tales, go ahead and throw it in the cart. You won't regret it.