The Ginger Tree: Episodes 1 to 4
November 17, 2018 1:02 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

In 1903, a young Scotswoman named Mary MacKenzie (Samantha Bond) travels to Manchuria in order to join her diplomat fiancé and marry him, but neither the marriage nor her subsequent life turn out as she expects.

I found this four-hour 1989 TV mini-series (which is based on the 1977 novel The Ginger Tree by Oswald Wynd) on YouTube just four nights ago, and was quite glued to it. I'd be interested to know what the MeFi crowd thinks of it. If anyone cares to watch it, the four episodes are all available on YouTube: Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3, Episode 4.
posted by orange swan (3 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Goodness me. I didn't know it was made into a tv series. I did hear it on Radio 4, such a long time ago. It must have either been on the Sunday Play or part of A Book at Bedtime, most likely the latter I should think. I found it incredibly strange, touching and resonant: I still have phrases from the reading echoing in my head, particularly the last ever line.

I think it was also told in four episodes; and I think maybe I missed the third episode! because I remember scrambling through the schedules desperate to find the final one. Maybe missing part of it enhanced the strong impression the reading left on me. I can't imagine a tv adaptation could have been half as haunting, or as reticent, or as evocative. One fed into the other.

It's the feeling of displacement and adaptation that resonated with me, I think. Just now looking up the title (which I've not seen or heard of in the years since) that feeling is very much to the fore in Oswald Wynd's reminisces here. It's a fascinating memoir. Sample: With his parents retired in Morningside, Oswald embarked on four happy years at Edinburgh University, gaining a well-rounded education but leaving without a degree. After a few unsuccessful years of trying to write books, he was diverted by the Second World War to the Scots Guards and then the Intelligence Corps, where his knowledge of the language would be useful for interrogating [...] prisoners...[Wynd was captured] ... " I spoke Japanese in a kind of pukka, BBC accent and our guards, who were mostly ex-thugs, were slightly ashamed of doing anything in my presence.''

Anyway sorry for posting off topic here. The radio version of that play made such an impression on me.
posted by glasseyes at 10:03 AM on November 18, 2018

I figured there was almost no chance anyone who frequents FanFare would have seen the miniseries and remembered it well enough to discuss it, so my real purpose in posting to FanFare was to get some people to watch it so that I'd have other viewers to discuss it with. (It is readily available after all.) It has an unusual plot, and is thought-provoking.
posted by orange swan at 4:05 PM on November 18, 2018

orange swan, I took you up on your suggestion and just finished all 4 episodes. It was sad and beautiful - really quite moving and very well done. Thank you for finding and recommending it here.
posted by 6thsense at 9:48 PM on November 22, 2018

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