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Artemis '81 [DVD]

14 customer reviews

Price: £19.74
Only 4 left in stock.
Dispatched from and sold by DaaVeeDee-uk.
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Product details

  • Actors: Hywel Bennett, Sting, Roland Curram, Dan O'Herlihy, Daniel Day-Lewis
  • Directors: Alastair Reid
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: 2entertain
  • DVD Release Date: 9 July 2007
  • Run Time: 180 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000R343IK
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 84,231 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

1980s sci-fi drama from the BBC starring Hywel Bennett as paranormal novelist Gideon Harlax, who is drawn into a battle between the forces of good, represented by alien angel Helith (Sting), and the forces of evil, represented by Helith's evil brother Asrael (Roland Curram). Ranging from Oxford to Denmark, a North Sea ferry to an alien planet, Harlax unwittingly becomes part of an ancient plot that may result in the destruction of Earth...

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By David Williams on 15 Oct. 2007
Format: DVD
I was 14 years old when I saw this film, and in true teenage style I was blown away by its surreal imagery, arcane symbolism and existentialist angst. I subsequently spent years trying to find a copy to watch it again, and was delighted when it was recently re-released on DVD.

We've all come a long way since then. Perhaps some things don't age too well (myself included!), or maybe nostalgia just ain't what it used to be....

26 years later, it was like watching a pretentious over-long and badly acted episode of Tom Baker-era Dr Who. However, unlike Dr Who, there was no dialogue between the characters, so much as a series of intense monologues consisting of irritating psycho-babble, cod-philosophy and rhetorical questions delivered in a po-faced telegramatic style that made it sound as though English was not the actors' first language. The basic plot was sound, but soon became predictable and painfully slow. The role of the sequences in the lost eastern European city and the underground military bunker which evoked familiar cliches of urban dystopia and cold-war paranoia were not apparent in the film or commentary, and they seemed to be more a diversion than part of the plot.

It was an ambitious project, but whilst the references to Bergman, Hitchcock, Ridley Scott, film noir and Hammer horror were immediately apparent, at times these seemed to take the film closer to self-parody rather than emulation of the greats. I guess the special effects were state of the art for the era and budget, but they have not aged well either...

The 14 year old me would have given it a 5 star rating, no question. Now I would give it a 2 star rating, upgraded to 3 after watching the film again with the commentary, which was more interesting than the original footage.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D.G.M.(X.) on 26 Dec. 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
For more in depth analysis about the contents of Artemis '81 please see other reviews but I will impart this: I was about 12 when I was allowed to stay up one Christmas and caught this bizare mix of Shakespeare meets Dr. Who. and after struggling to watch it on and off over the last three evenings I now realise that this is the origin of my obssession with creativity, interest in interconnectedness and introduction to dark fiction. It is as if seeing it again has answered a lot of questions regarding the genesis of my creative thoughts and approach to creative processes and I wouldn't be suprised if there are others out there who too would benefit in the same way from a re-viewing. In many ways it was ahead of it's time but this print is not a digital re-master and looks very old complete with scratches and glitches. It is over dubbed (as in the sound has been 'overlayed') to within an inch of it's life and has some of the most deliciously dubbed footsteps ever. The first half is very interesting as is the last 15 minutes of the second half but the rest loses itself 'out there.' Even Daniel Day Lewis fleetingly appears as if he has been transported back in time to put in a cameo just to add to the whole madness of it all and I now realise that Artemis '81 really did enter my subconscious on an extremely deep level as all my girlfriends have been like/look like the character Gwen, played by Dinah Stabb, who looks like the most miserable sour faced trout to ever walk the Earth. I feel liberated by watching it again and recommend it to anyone 'looking for the missing pieces' and interested in innovative 80's TV. Truly a clever classic due a re-make.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Desk on 4 July 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In 1981 I sat through this without a break, fascinated. So did most people I knew.
So, why has the BBC never repeated it?
A: Because there has been so much first-rate material on their channels for the last 25 years that there was just no room for it in the schedules.
B: Because they wanted to charge us £15.99 for something we've already paid for rather than give it to us for free.
C: For some other really good reason that I haven't figured out yet.

Superficially this is a Doctor-Whoish plot about some ancient entity wanting to destroy the Earth for no particularly good reason. That would be good enough for me, but its appeal is greater than that: just as it all seems to be making sense the film enters a long, surreal section, beginning with Sting as an angel/helicopter-rescue man saving the hero from a cliff-face. It is this sequence, involving mysterious worlds and strange places that gives it the extra depth and makes it intriguing.

It's not without its rough edges, but definitely watching again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Morris on 2 Jan. 2015
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It's hard to tell whether this was thrown together in a hurry, or whether the writer simply wasn't interested in the elements we'd normally hope to see in an entertaining drama. The plot itself is codswallop - I wouldn't even use it in a Dungeons & Dragons game. Mysterious statue in fragments, must be reassembled and then split apart again by magic organ music so that the evil god (Azrael, angel of death, unfairly co-opted into this nonsense) can beat his good brother (invented name not drawn from any mythology). They live on a world with multiple moons and, yawn, one wears white and one wears black.

The statue is the MacGuffin in all this - or rather the Magoguffin, for indeed it is our old friend Magog, tutelary giant of London town, only here he's a Danish goddess. Bonkers. And it all comes down to a mad organist with a dying wife in the cellar, and either a plague in potion form or nasty people who have been groomed to take over the world. What *is* the Angel of Death playing at? You could struggle to come up with some way to explain the porridge of events, but if so you'd be doing a lot more work than the writer could be bothered to.

Then there are the characters. They're impossible to read, not only because of their identical gnomic ways of speaking but because we're given no reason to care about any of them. Gideon has been described in reviews as "spiritually impoverished" - an abstract concept that the script tells us (insofar as it says anything clearly) but doesn't show us. You get the sense that the writer had lots of notes about his characters but didn't know how to express them to the viewer through dramatic action.
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