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Mystery Of Chopin [DVD] [2001]

6 customer reviews

Price: £19.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: Valentina Igoshina, Paul Rhys, Penelope Wilton
  • Format: Classical, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: German, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: ARTHAUS
  • DVD Release Date: 20 April 2001
  • Run Time: 167 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005B0EU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 120,791 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Tony Palmer's feature-length dramatisation of the events surrounding the discovery in 1945 of a bundle of love letters written by the great composer Frederic Chopin (Paul Rhys) to the Polish Countess Delfina Potocka. After Potocka's granddaughter, Paulina Czernika (Penelope Wilton), approaches the Communist Polish government with the letters, a tragic series of events is set in motion with parallels to Chopin's own experiences a century earlier. Also included is a concert performance of Chopin's work by Russian pianist Valentina Igoshina.


Tony Palmer's The Mystery of Chopin combines two short films about the composer. In the late 1940s, a newly Communist Poland needs its national heroes to be squeaky clean: The Strange Case of Delphina Potocka documents the persecution and mysterious death of Paulina who claimed to own letters showing Chopin to be a viciously anti-Semitic egomaniac; Penelope Wilton is stunning as the dogged, and possibly deranged, Paulina and John Shrapnel, Corin Redgrave, John Bird and John Fortuneare memorable as the men who persecute her to protect Chopin's good name. These scenes are shot in a gritty black and white; colour is reserved for the dreamy and passionate scenes in which a brooding Paul Rhys moves through pastoral and revolutionary landscapes as Chopin and the inserted moments of Valentina Igoshina playing the music which is Chopin's true legacy. In the other film, Igoshina plays a selection of the standard works featured in excerpts in the film; she is a technically adroit performer, keen on the poetry of the work--but Palmer's camera is at times a little too in love with her luminous good looks.

On the DVD: The DVD has subtitles in German, French and Spanish; the sound quality is excellent--the piano recital has a particularly fine acoustic. --Roz Kaveney

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Esposito on 2 Dec. 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Firstly and most importantly, it's about the music of Chopin in the end now isn't it? Despite Mr. Palmer's best intentions on providing the audience an expose on a provocative aspect he didn't quite make it in many ways granted and as I've indicated before I'd even be inclined to agree with some critics on some weaknesses and points.

However it doesn't make much sense to disparage any further when there is something of a beautiful rare gem contained therein that might make it almost criminal to overlook this DVD.

So conspicuously a refreshing departure are Valentina Igoshina's stunning interpretations which are so remarkably passionate, there exists some true value to this DVD and a definite must to explore further. Her performance and genuinely honest presence, are in fact simply the best reasons to purchase this DVD. Palmer salvages a respectable amount of dignity in the light of some almost humorous mistakes that speckle some of the rest of the film.

Choosing Ms. Igoshina to perform was Palmer's brightest decision here and with out any doubt, was motivated by her skill and engaging personality that shines through both in her playing and her image. It's her technical prowess, unique perspective and ever present passion that carries the day.

It seems Palmer knew this as well as after the feature concludes, he thoughtfully provides the viewer/listener with almost an hour of exceptionally produced rare recital footage of Ms. Igoshina interpreting some of Chopin's most difficult and memorable compositions and some all too brief and genuine spontaneous interviews as well.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By M. Jones on 8 Mar. 2006
Format: DVD
The Strange Case of Delphina Potocka is a film that shares much in common with the character Paulina, played nicely by Penelope Wilton: it has its heart in the right place, but misguidedly goes about things the wrong way. A serious lack of funding must surely explain why much of this, the main feature, is just utterly awful.
Its first drawback is that it looks like it was shot on cheap video. The black-and-white scenes DO NOT look gritty, they make you think your telly's on the blink.
There is a huge amount of what looks like stock footage used: again, presumably, to compensate for a cash shortage. By and large, the scenery elsewhere in the film looks pretty tawdry - the ballroom scenes with Rhys as Chopin are fantastic, but much of Communist Poland looks like it was shot in the east end of London on a rainy Thursday in January. Run-down and grim, yes; but the east end of London nonetheless, not Poland.
The sparse chairs and tables and antique typewriters - yes, I know that's what post-war Poland should have looked like, but you can't help but think it all looks rather like an am-dram production of Hedda Gabler.
Perhaps that's because, despite the famous names in the cast, a good deal of the acting is absolutely atrocious - check the scene where a gaggle of revolutionaries "chase" an old man down a landing. I've seen more convincing Nativity Plays, frankly. Bird and Fortune ham it up, unable to do ought else, given the terribly stilted script.
Rhys, however, IS worth his money. Long, slender fingers too - perfect for the great pianist.
It's pretty ropey, the whole thing, but somehow still quite charming. Worth a watch, at least once.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Born2Late65 on 3 Jan. 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I bought this solely for the mini concert by Ms.Igoshina. The feature film is B-grade, @best. Sadly, Igoshina's music isn't available here in America. So, I had to buy this region 2 DVD. I can play it on my PC. I'll have to buy some software to rip the audio tracks off the DVD. Ah Well, it's the only way to listen to her playing, here... Dunno how accurate the claims are in the feature film. It's a very low budget affair. The concert section is well-worth the price of the DVD.
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