2.7 The Ginger Tree

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This month Andy and Martin review the 1989 adaptation of Oswald Wynd's novel The Ginger Tree, a 4-million pound co-production with NHK Tokyo and WGBH Boston. Starring Samantha Bond and Daisuke Ryu, this 4-part series tells the tale of Mary Mackenzie's experiences in Manchuria and Japan in the first half of the 20th Century, first as an unhappy wife and then, effectively, as a concubine to a Japanese Count. After her son is taken from her Mary finds some self-worth as a dress designer but the Second World War is about to change Japan forever... Andy is rather surprised not to get on with this series despite having watched it on first broadcast and first-time viewer Martin too has misgivings. They agree that the subject matter is interesting but also that the way it is presented is not always compelling despite beautiful cinematography and several good acting performances, particularly by Samantha Bond. Still they find more than enough here to encourage discussion of its key themes: the patriarchy and oppression of women; colonialism and nationalism; and suicide and death. Yes, not always the cheeriest series! If you want to find out why its called The Ginger Tree you like the viewers of the series you have to wait some way into the podcast, but only you can decide if the wait is worth it. Next Time: Harry's Game

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