The Buccaneers

The Buccaneers

What She said:


Based on an unfinished novel by Edith Wharton, The Buccaneers is a 1995 TV mini-series that follows several friends who travel from America to England in search of husbands.  The girls are happy-go-lucky, youthful, and full of spirit, but they find themselves challenged by the adjustments they must make to fit into English society.  Why would these ladies ever want to mingle with British aristocracy, you may ask?  Well, they long for adventure, and this is just one example of it.  They sort of blew the idea up in their heads into something that would be much greater than it actually turns out to be.  Their parents encourage them, knowing that most matches they could make in England would be advantageous compared to what’s available back home.

The plot initially focuses on all the girls, but then centers in on the character of Nan.  Each of the girls marries well, in that they’ll continue to be wealthy for the rest of their lives.  However, they all begin to see the realities of English society.  Their husbands have not married them for love, but for their money, and status far outranks happiness here.  Basically, almost all of them end up miserable.  I totally didn’t see this coming.  When I happened upon this mini-series, I was out sick from work, feeling kind of horrible, and looking for a bit of a pick-me-up.  I thought a period romance would fit the bill.  But the movie doesn’t sensationalize what was typically the norm for the rich and high-society back then.  Happiness was relative, many had lovers on the side, and the glamour we often equate with this way of life was all for show.

Nan, in particular, finds herself unhappy.  She marries the Duke of Trevennick, Julius, who is ridiculously rich, but also not the best husband.  He’s interested in her, but mostly just seems amused.  He’s also pressured by his mother to be the perfect husband.  Nan, in the meantime, is in love Guy Thwaite, who is dashing but also not of money or circumstance.  That all belongs to his brother.  Thwaite goes to Africa to prove himself as a scientist, and although he and Nan are madly in love, she marries Julius instead.  That is just one of the many reasons why she’s miserable with Julius.  There’s much more to it, but you’ll see that in the movie.

The mini-series is pretty well done.  It’s long, but I found it surprisingly interesting.  It’s also a huge downer, though.  It doesn’t inspire much confidence in the idea of marriage, particularly the glamorized version we hear about in Price & Prejudice or Emma.  The realities are startling.  The Buccaneers got me through my sick day well enough, although it dampened my spirits.  Still, if you’re into this type of period tv/film, you’ll probably be satisfied.

Thumbs up.