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Britten: The Turn Of The Screw [DVD] [2005]

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Britten: The Turn Of The Screw [DVD] [2005] + Britten: The Turn of the Screw (Toby Spence, Miah Persson, Susan Bickley, Giselle Allen - Glyndebourne Production) [DVD] [2012]
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Product details

  • Actors: Lisa Milne, Mark Padmore, Diana Montague, Catrin Wyn Davies, Nicholas Kirby Johnson
  • Format: Anamorphic, Classical, Closed-captioned, Colour, DVD-Video, PAL, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, German, French, Italian
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Opus Arte
  • DVD Release Date: 21 Jan. 2005
  • Run Time: 119 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007CGPU0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 79,774 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Benjamin Britten's haunting and sinister opera, composed in 1954, is based on the famous novella written by Henry James in 1898. This film release of the popular opera returns to the late 19th Century setting of the original story, Fulbeck Hall in Lincolnshire.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By E. J. Powell on 17 July 2007
Format: DVD
"The Turn of the Screw" is emerging as Britten's most performed, recorded and respected opera. With good reason. I have seen this opera performed in opera houses large and small, by internationally regarded soloists and by students - it never fails to make an impact. My expectations for this BBC film were therefore high - and my expectations were exceeded.
Mark Padmore now enjoys a well deserved reputation as an English tenor of rare taste and skill. These qualities are very evident in this performance - but so too is his gift for drama, suspence and terror. Never less than beautifully sung, it is also a highly dramatic performance - which terrifies. As Peter Quint he insinuates his way into the opera, menacing but also tragic.
Lisa Milne has established an international reputation for her musicianship and vocal splendour, and this role might well have been written for her. The 'garden scene' is but one of many high points in her performance. What I admire most about her performance is the way she allows the governess to "grow": from well meaning innocent, to the scenes when she witness the final confrontation between Miles and Quint. Her final notes are truly heart breaking.
Performances by Miles and Flora deserve all praise. Miss Jessel is strongly cast, as is the Housekeeper.
At the end of the day, this filmed opera is more than just the sum of its wonderful and distinguished parts. It is the (visually stunning) record of a true opera performance. And for this, I guess the accolades must go to the Director. I especially liked the way the various settings, the house, the lake, and the grounds all reflect the ghostly atmosphere of death and decay. This is perhaps the most "atmospheric" of all the performances I have seen: there is an atmosphere of evil brooding over all the scenes.
5 stars for all involved: this dvd deserves a wide success.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Casley TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 Jun. 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Based on the novella by Henry James, another gay artist with an outsider's perceptive eye into the human condition, Benjamin Britten's opera was written in 1954, less than ten years after "Peter Grimes". With only six characters, Britten here seems to have taken to heart James's injunction to view mere character as plot, a line of thought whose logical conclusion would end in Britten's "Death in Venice" where one sole character ruminates on life's sadness and joys. But, in "The Turn of the Screw" there is still plenty of plot to fascinate the observer, despite the pared-down cast list.

And it is not only the cast-list that is so small. It seems the older Britten became, the less melodic were his operas: you won't be humming tunes from "The Turn of the Screw" as you skip down the stairs. No, what replaces melody here is a vivid sense of a haunted and haunting atmosphere, into which this marvellous production draws you and holds you tight until the very end. Beautifully shot in a late autumn landscape of unkempt foliage, misty marshes and forlorn rooms, this is a film of the opera, not a staged production, and all the better for that.

Quint (Mark Padmore) and Miss Jessel (Catrin Wyn Davies) are brilliantly evoked, the one barely seen with his guilty eye to camera, the other seen all too clearly, her tortured face and gaunt figure wonderfully portrayed in the autumnal half-light. The two children are good, but could have been better directed. But for me it is Diana Montague as Mrs Grose, and especially Lisa Milne as the Governess who do wonders for the viewer's nerves, chillingly conveying the sense of ominous mischief that is gradually revealed.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Informed review 10 Aug. 2005
By Colin Graham - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As the stage manager of the first production of this opera, and as a stage director who has directed it many times, I am very happy to say that I enjoyed this DVD enormously. Beautifully directed and photographed, very interestingly cast, musically impeccable, so well acted and never overstated. The interludes (which have so often given directors problems) were brilliantly handled with an imagination completely in key with the intentions of the composer and librettist and, of course, with Henry James, the author of the novella on which the opera is based.

Colin Graham
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
One of the Best Filmed-Opera DVDs Ever Made 12 Jun. 2005
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
[I have little to add to Terry Serres' really quite beautifully written and considered review. Indeed, I suggest you read it first, before reading my comments.]

The main thing I want to add, aside from endorsing everything Serres has said, is to point out that TV director Katie Mitchell and her co-workers have made a rarely-used form of television opera production in that the opera is opened out as a movie would be -- that is, it is not confined to an opera stage, but rather is filmed in beautiful British surroundings using the actual singers who recorded the music. What is striking is that at times the singers are seen actually singing their parts but at other times they are filmed as actors with, often, interior monologs being sung by them on the accompanying soundtrack. This is done so seamlessly that it took me a while to realize what the director had done.

Further, the singers are particularly visually apt for their parts. Mark Padmore, aside from being a marvelous singer, becomes the embodiment of the eerie Quint. Lisa Milne looks and acts the part of the innocent but plucky young governess, and she sings beautifully. Diana Montague, in a former time a leading lady of opera -- I still remember her stunning Iphigenia in Gluck's 'Iphigénie in Tauride' -- is simply unbeatable as Mrs. Grose. The two children, Miles and Flora, are convincingly played and sung by Nicholas Kirby Johnson and Keturah Day. Catrin Wyn Davies makes an effective Miss Jessel.

Musically the direction of Richard Hickox, leading the City of London Sinfonia, cannot be bettered. This is a psychologically deft performance.

This is easily one of the best opera DVDs ever made. I had earlier praised (and still like) the staged version from the Schwetzingen Festival, but this one is dramatically much more effective.

Scott Morrison
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Revelatory! A Must-Have! 23 May 2005
By MDFinMIA - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Highest praise for Katie Mitchell's extraordinary cinematic version of this difficult opera. At last, I've found a production that fully opens Britten's work to me...haunting, atmospheric, beautifully filmed and musically involving. Conductor Richard Hickox leads a revelatory performance with a cast that's sung and acted admirably. Highly recommended.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Incredible Mr. Hickox 21 May 2006
By S. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Britten's own recording of this opera was one of my earliest opera purchases, and I have seen two staged productions as well as another video version. One thing that struck me, comparing the two stage versions and Britten's own, was how extremely different the interpretations were, yet all so apt. Britten tends to downplay both his lyricism and his effects, and I found (find) his interpretation beautiful and effective in an austere, interior sense. Christopher Keene played it for lyricism and chromatic beauty. Hugh Keelan (conducting a production of the Chamber Opera Theatre of New York) brought out the sort of creepy horror I'd always missed in the opera, no matter how much I loved it. Hickox seems to top them all with textures breath-taking for being both luxurious and bone-chilling. He brought similar luxury to his CD of Peter Grimes, but here he never slights the drama and he shapes everything (except, perhaps, the piano scene) superbly.

The performers are all top-notch in voice and acting. Unlike the other reviewers here, I'd like to single out Catrin Wyn Davies' Miss Jessel, which is sumptuously sung and acted with hair-raising passion. The duo between Quint and Jessel is an oddity that sometimes doesn't work; here both the singers and the director turn it into a highpoint.

I have less praise for the director. The alternation between "sung" singing and mental monologues is irregular and sometimes peculiar, with one singer not-mouthing the words while the other, in the same room and scene, mouths the responses. Cuts to pacing in the woods also seem unnecessary. Still, she scores many good points, and keeps up the mood.

Because of the iffy direction I would probably never purchase the DVD. But I'd love to have it on CDs!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A TOUGH NUT TO CRACK 23 Dec. 2008
By drkhimxz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Dramatizing a quintessentially literary ghost story for film is not easy, in fact, it is pretty well doomed to partial failure for those who have grown up with the Henry James masterpiece in print and in several movies that have based themselves upon it.
This is quite successful in showing Brittan's music to good effect. I found it interesting, entertaining, well-sung well-acted, well-directed; however, I found it much too prosaic and realistic to evoke the air of mystery, of the unknown and unknowable, that an effective ghost story should possess.
I have not seen any of the other versions available on DVD, but would guess that the average viewer cannot go wrong watching this if his objective is seeing Benjamin Brittan's opera rather than Henry Jame's
story.
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