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ENGLAND MY ENGLAND

27 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: PID
  • ASIN: B002FQT9CM
  • Other Editions: VHS Tape  |  DVD
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 557,721 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By M. Joyce TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 Oct. 2010
Format: DVD
I'm not sure what to make of this. I watched it on TV when it was first shown in the mid 1990s and remember enjoying it and it certainly gave me a lot of pleasure this time around, even if I did not find Tony Palmer's concept of exploring Purcell's life and times through the eyes of a group of actors in the mid 1960s (or so it says on the DVD sleeve; hairstyles and events would suggest a decade later) especially effective, however literate and amusing the script by Charles Wood and John Osborne may be. The acting is, of course, very fine; how could it be otherwise with a cast featuring Simon Callow, Corin Redgrave, Rebecca Front, John Shrapnel and the late, great Robert Stephens? Michael Ball is, moreover, a revelation as Purcell, confounding all my (unfair) expectations. The chief glory of the film is, inevitably and quite rightly, Purcell's sublime music, performed superbly by the English Baroque Soloists under John Eliot Gardiner and featuring such expert soloists as Susan Graham, Lynne Dawson, Nancy Argenta and David Thomas. The musical excerpts underpin the whole film with point and wit and are in themselves ample justification for what is by any standards an intriguing DVD.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. Burns on 16 April 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It is something of a cliche to label productions 'timeless' but one of the brilliant aspects of Palmer's biopic of Henry Purcell (produced for television in 1995) is that the observations on the English condition contained in Osborne and Wood's script fully retain their resonance and relevance nearly twenty years after the film was made. Bankers certainly weren't the product of Cromwell's time, as Clarendon (John Fortune) ruefully observes, but blaming the previous administration is as old as the hills and bankers remain as unpopular today as they were for Charles II. The mob still burns flags and effigies, the wealthy and powerful continue to 'put it around', the exchequer is still empty, and we still have Purcell's legacy to remind us that it is not simply the base which persists in our national history but also the sublime. The use of an imaginary 1960s production of Shaw's 'In Good King Charles's' Golden Days' at the Royal Court provides the central conceit around which the film's examination of the life and times of Purcell unfolds. Simon Callow plays Charles, and the playwright/actor seeking to portray Charles and Purcell, from the heart, and the play's observations on class, tolerance, censorship, art, money, religion, sex, fun, music and joie de vivre, say a great deal about the perils and pitfalls of the English experience. It is through the modern actor's investigation of Purcell that the historical detail of the period is revealed, relieving the historical drama of the burden of such explanation. Dryden, a splendid Robert Stephens in what must have been one of his last performances, provides the narrative in Purcell's time, while the whole film is carried along on the sumptuous music of Henry Purcell, who forms the by no means exclusive focus of the whole enterprise.Read more ›
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mondoro TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Jun. 2008
Format: DVD
'England, My England' tells the story of our of our great composers and uses rich colours and settings to recreate the court of Charles II and his royal patron, Mary. It employs many of our leading actors, with Simon Callow as the mainstay, and singers; some of whom, like Susan Graham, are now at the summit of their profession. The choice of Purcell's music to illustrate episodes in his life is well-judged and always apt, and there are many discoveries to be made: the quality of music in 'King Arthur', especially. I particularly liked the final touch of the Britten 'Young Person's Guide' finale, based on Purcell- a tribute to another of our great composers.

Above all, Callow's film is an intelligent historical and social commentary on Purcell's world, and our apparently very different, world. The theme cutting across both is that of violence, lurking under the surface, and erupting at times into sectarianism and revolt: the film makes a direct link between the No Popery sectarianism that swept through England and the stridency of Ian Paisley and the Orange Order.

Callow comments also on the concept of English identity - part of Europe, but not part of it, unsure of its place, a 'hanger on'. My only slight reservation is the occasional tendency of Callow, playing the modern actor, to rant, rather than leaving us, his audience, to reach our own judgements.

Purcell the composer comes across as a beacon of English identity, writing music of genius that is neither French nor Italian (the competing factions at the time) but uniquely English. Yet even today only a handful of his works out of an enormous output, written in the same lifespan as Mozart's, are really well-known. This film goes some way towards rectifying this situation.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Hans Kaspar Hort on 7 Mar. 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
'England, my England' has proved itself over the decades to be an exemplary way to deal with history, art and artist. The combination of talent across the board -actors, screenwriter, director.. Etc.- shows what actual inspiration in the right combination can achieve. While many film of that period by now have been reduced to a certain retro-charm, this one feels as fresh and contemporary as can be.
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