Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Published in 1830, Stendhal's landmark historical novel Le Rouge et le Noir has long been required reading in college literature courses, but has generally defied most attempts at adaptation to other mediums. Noteworthy exceptions include the 1954 theatrical-film version by director Claude Autant-Lara, and this four-part British miniseries, titled Scarlet & Black. Set in France in the immediate post-Napoleonic era, the series chronicled the exploits of Julian Sorel (Ewan McGregor), a humble carpenter's son who hoped to scale the heights of European society and affluence. Sorel realized his goal faster than he expected through a series of beneficial romantic liaisons, but in the end there was a terrible price to pay. In addition to star Ewan McGregor, the series was a major boost to the career of young actress Rachel Weisz (cast as Mathilde), as well as another feather in the cap for established leading lady Alice Krige (as Mme. de Renal). Scarlet & Black was seen over BBC2 from October 31 to November 4, 1993.