I can't stop raving about this movie. When it aired on A&E I was glued to my television set for three hours. I have rarely found a TV movie that watchable and fascinating. I instantly loved the story, and not long after bought a copy of the R.D. Blackmore classic novel. The actors became the characters, so much so that you forgot they were just acting.
Everything about this film is superb. The story of a young man, John Ridd, from a farming family in the southwest England in the 1600s who watches as his beloved father is murdered in cold blood by the infamous aristocratic Doone clan, who terrorize the countryside. He grows into manhood determined to seek revenge, only to fall in love with the lovely Lorna Doone, and to come to blows with the violent and controlling Carver Doone who is betrothed to Lorna and will stop at nothing to possess her. The feud between the two families leads to consequences, as does the political intrigue gripping Britain at that time. The opposition towards the Catholic James II inheriting the throne and the illegitimate Duke Of Monmouth's attempts to have the title of King for himself whips the country into a frenzy.
The costumes, locations, hairstyles, production design, dialogue and music are all top-notch, and the performers are all outstanding. It's not just a beautifully shot love story, but it is also full of fast-paced action, humor, intrigue, and drama. Amelia Warner fits the bill as Lorna, her exquisite beauty, fantastic presence, vulnerability and strength embodying her character wonderfully. Richard Coyle, rugged and handsome, is right on in his portrayal of John, a young man torn between his loyalty to his family and the memory of his father, and his love for this young beauty whom he knows is nothing like her vicious family. And the gorgeously roguish Aidan Gillen (I have a thing for Irish guys) is magnetic, strangely seductive and hypnotic as the obsessive, power-hungry Carver, who claims Lorna as his, and who wants all the power, all the while possessing a degree of vulnerability. When the story takes a twist regarding Lorna's true parentage, the film becomes even more engrossing as the viewer becomes more and more invested. What will happen? Will love conquer all? The smaller characters, from the Doones to the Ridds and the neighboring folk, to the nobility, King's army, royalty and the very real historical figure Judge Jeffreys, give the film a scope and adds authenticity to the story. All the people I have shared this movie with have enjoyed it, and have complimented the music, a lovely mixture of folk and Celtic melodies, and the wonderfully lush, green landscape and the design of the houses, cottages, and castles. In short, you feel like you are there, not that you are watching a movie. It all seems so real, making it a marvellous experience. It is a masterpiece! Romantics, take note.