A Television Favourite For Three Decades
Now available on DVD
Based on the classic novels The Scarlet Pimpernel and Eldorado by Baroness Orczy, The Scarlet Pimpernel features the stunning Jane Seymour (East of Eden, Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman), Anthony Andrews (Brideshead Revisited, David Copperfield), and Ian McKellen (Richard III, Gods and Monsters) in a tale of passion and romance in eighteenth century France. The scene is set — the French Revolution has entered its stage of bloody terror. Men, women and children fall under the merciless blade of the guillotine. But one foppish gentleman, Sir Percy (Andrews), alias the Scarlet Pimpernel , bravely rescues aristocrats from the jaws of death. In the midst of his heroic acts, he falls passionately in love with Marguerite (Seymour), France's most celebrated actress. Marguerite however, is involved with Chauvelin (McKellen), a villainous revolutionary, who is determined to eliminate the aristocratic class from French society. Out of jealousy and rage, Chauvelin intends to end the romance of Sir Percy and Marguerite, and destroy the Scarlet Pimpernel. Thus begins a twisted, suspenseful romance played out in one of the bloodiest revolutions of all time.
"Not surprisingly perhaps, Mr. McKellen is especially sharp in the villainous role of Paul Chauvelin, the chief agent for the Committee of National Security who is determined to eliminate the aristocratic class from French society. Mr. McKellen, the noted British Shakespearean actor and winner of a Tony Award for his performance in "AMADEUS," is marvelously subtle as Chauvelin. This is an intricately etched portrait of social envy and sexual jealousy. His commitment to the Revolution is just about equal to his lust for Marguerite. Even without being dressed in simple black, Mr. McKellen would have no difficulty standing out among these gaudy aristocrats." — John J. O'Connor, "The New York Times" 9 Nov 1982.
Notes by Ian McKellen