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The 1977 miniseries finally makes its way onto DVD, and on first impression, it feels - long...
Acorn Media / 287 Minutes / 1977 / Unrated / Street Date: February 5, 2013
The Testimony of Two Men has aspirations to be a throwback Reconstruction Gone With the Wind, but this adaptation of Taylor Caldwell’s 1968 novel is brooding, bloated historical melodrama at its most maximally overcooked. Scarlett O’Hara was bigger than life, of course, and was often prone to scenery-chewing outbursts, but I’d gladly sit through one of her “Fiddle-dee-dee!” hissyfits on a four-hour loop than have to slog through Testimony’s middle part again.
I feel bad sinking my fangs into this miniseries because it really does try to offer an expansive narrative syntax for its tale of love and heartbreak in a changing American world – every once in a while, the soap opera dialogue quiets down for a moment and we get some pleasing, effective snapshots of 19th century Virginia life. But then something inane will happen, the miniseries’ cheesy and overused music will swell up, and we’ll be right back where we started.
Steve Forrest and David Birney try to bring verve to their roles as Martin Eaton and Jonathan Ferrier, respectively, but even with a cast of TV-recognizable stars backing them up – Tom Bosley narrates the thing, and Shatner even pops by for a visit – the trappings of The Testimony of Two Men’s limp drama keep their ambitions from becoming successful. It’s nice that Acorn has salvaged this saga from the vaults (better in print than out of it, I say), but only the deeply committed will be able to take it.