Burton & Taylor

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Burton & Taylor
Directed by Richard Laxton
Produced by Lachlan Mackinnon
Jessica Pope
Andrew Wood
Written by William Ivory
Starring Helena Bonham Carter
Dominic West
Music by John Lunn
Production
company
Distributed by BBC Four
BBC America
Release dates
  • 22 July 2013 (2013-07-22)
(BBC Four/HD)
Running time 82 mins
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Burton & Taylor is a BBC Four TV film directed by Richard Laxton, and based on the legendary acting duo and former husband and wife, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, during their preparation for a 1983 theatrical production of the play, Private Lives. The film stars Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West in the titular roles.

Plot[edit]

Focusing on one of the most fascinating, glamorous and tempestuous relationships of the 20th century, Burton & Taylor shows an insight into the 'private lives' of two the most famous movie stars of their day, Elizabeth Taylor (Helena Bonham Carter) and Richard Burton (Dominic West).

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film was mainly shot in the Chiswick[1] and Tower Hamlets,[2] with filming lasting only 18 days. Bonham Carter visited an astrologer whilst preparing for her role as Elizabeth Taylor as she wanted a different take on Taylor's character and persona. Bonham Carter and West both have mentioned in interviews that they listened to numerous recordings of the stars, as well as reading books such as Furious Love by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger. West even visited the birthplace of Burton in attempt to discover more about the actor.[3]

Costume designer Susannah Buxton only recreated two of Taylor's outfits, the gown worn during Private Lives and Taylor's birthday dress. The rest of the clothes Buxton created for Bonham Carter to wear were made from freelance tailors based on Bonham Carter's interpretation of the character, and designed to tone her look down subtly so it did not distract. Though Taylor was known for her jewelry, Buxton did not design much jewelry for Bonham Carter as she was afraid it would distract the audience if she wore as much as Taylor did. Therefore, she only copied two pieces of jewelry Taylor was known for, a Cartier bracelet and a pair of diamond earrings. For Dominic West as Richard Burton, Buxton sourced vintage suits and made one that would lend Burton's silhouette to West. As West was much younger during the filming than Burton was during the events portrayed, West's clothing ensembles had to be chosen in order to give him the "same strong, masculine and distinguished air" as Burton, such as double-breasted suits to broaden West's shoulders and accentuate his height.[4][5][6]

Reception[edit]

In its original airing on BBC Four, Burton & Taylor received an impressive 1.13 million viewers.[7] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 81, based on 17 reviews, which indicates "universal acclaim".[8] Both Bonham Carter and West received widespread praise for their performances in the film, with Alex Hardy of The Times labelling the drama as "perfect" and added of Bonham Carter's performance as Taylor, "(She) conducted the world around her in a sing-song voice that moved octaves within one phrase, the fragile sliding into the manipulative". Sam Wollaston of The Guardian wrote "Bonham Carter and West are excellent. There's a crackle between them... They become two people who clearly are and always will be in love, but can never be together, for reasons of health and safety. It is another very good double act".[9]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2013 Golden Globe Award Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Helena Bonham Carter Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Nominated
Satellite Award Best Miniseries or Television Film Nominated
Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Dominic West Nominated
Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Helena Bonham Carter Nominated
2014 British Academy Television Awards British Academy Television Award for Best Actor Dominic West Nominated
British Academy Television Award for Best Actress Helena Bonham Carter Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Award Best Movie/Miniseries Nominated
Best Actress in a Movie/Miniseries Helena Bonham Carter Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie Helena Bonham Carter Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Taylor-made to play Liz...it's Helena Bonham Parka: Actress spotted between scenes on set of BBC4 drama in khaki jacket over her nightgown". The Daily Mail. 13 April 2013. Retrieved 11 September 2014. 
  2. ^ ""Burton and Taylor" filming with Film Office Tower Hamlets". Tower Hamlets Film Office. 22 July 2013. Retrieved 11 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "Dominic West and Helena Bonham Carter: being Burton and Taylor". The Guardian. 13 July 2013. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "Helena Bonham Carter’s Elizabeth Taylor Transformation". Vogue. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 11 September 2014. 
  5. ^ "TRANSFORMING HELENA BONHAM CARTER INTO ELIZABETH TAYLOR". Harper's Bazaar. 17 July 2013. Retrieved 11 September 2014. 
  6. ^ "Recreating Elizabeth Taylor's iconic wardrobe". Harper's Bazaar. 20 June 2014. Retrieved 11 September 2014. 
  7. ^ "Royal baby arrival fails to beat Coronation Street in ratings". Digital Spy. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 
  8. ^ "Burton and Taylor". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Helena Bonham Carter And Dominic West Win Over Critics With Burton And Taylor". Contact Music. 23 July 2013. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 

External links[edit]