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Jude the Obscure or just Jude?

The Thomas Hardy book is perhaps one of the greatest novels in the English language and one you can read over and over again, finding more in it. 

Students of Turn of the Century pub design will watch Jude for the scene in which a half-drunk Jude Fawley played by Christopher Eccleston fiercely recites the Creed in Latin, to much snickering from snobbish Christminster (Oxford) yuppies. The pub interior is a lot like Dr Duncan's in Liverpool (though as far as I can tell, it isn't). 

The later version misses out the response "Hang on, hang on, I wanted the Nicene Creed not the Apostle's Creed" from his challenger. The film is condensed down from the five hours of the original 1971 BBC production with Robert Powell,extraordinarily sexually frank for its time, as was Hardy's novel for its time. 

In Jude more of the precious time is used in lingering over every inch of his beautiful cousin, Sue Bridehead (Kate Winslet), who shares his intelligence and disdain for convention, as the two develop a doomed romantic relationship. It's not Sunday Night tv - this bleak but compelling story may begin in a Lark Rise vein but Jude's struggle against his origins and contemporary values heads ever downward. 

Which version to choose? Jude will probably cost about £8 and the original BBC two disc set about £13. Both!

  ©RKW  from the Spring 2009 edition of O-to-K