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Robin Redbreast (DVD)

20 customer reviews

Price: £10.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
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Product details

  • Directors: James McTaggart
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Dolby, PAL
  • 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: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 28 Oct. 2013
  • Run Time: 77 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00E65SHVY
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,923 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

ROBIN REDBREAST (DVD)

A film by James MacTaggart

Norah Palmer (Anna Cropper) is a television script editor who temporarily moves to a remote English country village to rebuild her life after a bad break-up. At first, she finds that the villagers are friendly, if a little eccentric. When she becomes pregnant to the handsome gamekeeper Rob, she begins to suspect the locals of conspiring against her, preventing her from leaving the village for her home in London.

Directed by the renowned producer/director James MacTaggart from a script by John Bowen (A Ghost Story for Christmas: The Ice House, Dead of Night: A Woman Sobbing) and made during the golden age of British TV chillers, this provocative and disturbing drama, with its combination of unsettling folk rituals and insular regional communities, is considered to be an influence and precursor to The Wicker Man, and has built up a cult following over the years since its original broadcast in the Play for Today strand.

Special Features

  • Interview with John Bowen (2013, 12 mins): the celebrated writer discusses his career and the origins of Robin Redbreast
  • Around the Village Green (1937, Evelyn Spice and Marion Grierson, 11 mins): short film offering insight into the changing economic and social history of village life
  • Illustrated booklet featuring essays and biographies by Vic Pratt, William Fowler, Olive Wake and Alex Davidson, and full credits

UK | 1970 | a black & white presentation of a colour production | English language, with optional hard-of-hearing subtitles | 77 minutes | DVD9 | Region 2 PAL DVD | Original aspect ratio 1.33:1 | Dolby Digital mono audio (320kbps)

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Sims on 13 Jan. 2014
John Bowens' best work I think........firstly the two main protagonists are well matched , norah is oxford educated , worldly and quick-witted , not your usual ''scream-queen'' at all! Mr fisher is self-educated , cunning and calculating.
mrs vigo is like a village ''headwoman'' but occasionally slips up , on a few occasions giving norah a clue as to her fate.

Like john bowen's other work it is very wordy and detailed , so there is extra information to be gleaned of repeated viewing , even on my third viewing I still picked up the odd extra detail.

I invite fans of this production to try watching ''rosemary's baby'' and see that in fact rosemary was quite clever , she worked out pretty much the whole scheme but in the end was led along to the horrible end as norah was.

robin redbreast really ignited my interest in ''folk horror'' so I have a few recommendations for lovers of this sort of stuff.

1/ ''play for today'' - ''a photograph'' by john bowen : mrs vigo is played by Freda bamford again and is really evil in this one , you could think of this as a sequel to robin redbreast , a slow start but the climax of this play is quite shocking , highly recommended if you can find it.

2/ ''murrain'' - by nigel kneale : a vet discovers a suspected witch living near by when he pays a call to a farmer. excellent drama , again a great companion piece to robin redbreast and a photograph. ( to be found as a extra on the ''beasts'' dvd. )

3/ ''here's a health to the barley mow'' - bfi : about 6 hours of folk traditions from throughout the uk , wonderful footage and documentaries and its all real !
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Tommy Dooley TOP 100 REVIEWER on 23 Mar. 2014
This is a little gem from the `golden' days of British TV drama/horror. Made in 1970 for the series on the BBC called `Play for Today' this was a commission of writer John Bowen. We meet Norah (Anna Cropper) who has just split up with her long term partner; one thing she has been left with is a pretty cottage in the country. She decides that she needs some `me time' and so leaves London to move there.

At first the locals seem friendly enough even if their ways are somewhat different to `city folk'. She then finds herself being drawn to one of the locals - Rob- who is into karate and kills vermin on the side. She soon becomes aware of the importance of the seasons to the locals and what at first appears as quaint soon becomes nightmarish when she realises that she is becoming central to whatever the villagers have got planned in their `game'. What plays out is something that finds her isolated, alone and unable to stop whatever the game has in store for her.

This created quite a stir when it went out - actually due to a power strike on the night of broadcast, only half of it actually did; the BBC received so many complaints that they showed it again the following week. This is seen as a precursor and major influence on the much well known `The Wicker Man' which was made some three years later. This though is low budget but high on the spooks and menace that makes all `horrors' essentially both creepy and compelling. It is fairly short at seventy minutes long and is in black and white. It was screened in colour but the BBC wiped the master in the seventies and this restored version was from a TV recording so the quality could be better. It is a testament though to the quality of the production and writing that this still packs a punch all these years later.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Cripps on 23 May 2015
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There are some fine acting performances are in here especially Bernard Hepton who is Superb as the head of the Village.

What's wrong with it I felt that it was all rather Cameo and although at times was genuinely frightening it lacks cohesion and for that reason the storyline comes over as mainly weak and insipid. I think that this would probably work better as a book because the main problem was the way that the story was cobbled together in unequal parts forming the impression in the mind of the watcher that a good deal of the main body of the storyline just wasn't there or had been edited out completely. It's strength is in the idea of it's writing and thought out better this would probably have WORKED! - all of the magical ingredients are in there but as in Baking a cake you have to get the ingredients RIGHT - The word that best sums this film up for me is UN PLAUSIBLE - something doesn't HAVE TO BE Believable to be plausible because IF it is done well enough then it can prove to be plausible.
I have still said that I liked it for mainly the ideas expressed in it and for the acting performances which have a real intensity to them - by some of todays standards it is refreshing to watch they just didn't get it quite right for me.
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Robin Redbreast was a televised drama, not a movie. That means there is hardly any editing to speak of, or special effects involved, but greater reliance on strong character acting and creating a momentum that holds the viewer's interest - essentially a separate art-form which I mention as it may be somewhat unfamiliar to some, but should be taken into account when setting expectations.

Various social changes came about during the 1960s, linked to increased national prosperity, changes in the class system, and faster access to information on attitudes and trends through television, radio and popular music. Although not always true, a populist understanding is that urban lifestyles are several paces ahead of those from remote rural communities with their archaic traditions. This play develops that theme by placing a modern urbanite, Norah Palmer (played by Anna Cropper), into a small isolated cottage where she is surrounded by superstition, folk-lore and some strange goings-on. The plot revolves around her being an outsider, trying to comprehend. She develops a relationship with Rob, a gamekeeper, and has a series of encounters with a strange local eccentric called Fisher (played brilliantly by a superbly oddball Bernard Hepton) who, she is told, is expert in the "old ways".

Legend has it that the original 1970 screening on BBC TV of Robin Redbreast was an important influence on the writers and film-makers who went on to make The Wicker Man in 1973, starring Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Ingrid Pitt, Britt Ekland, etc. There certainly are several strong parallels (particularly with the Director's Cut version of that, which restored e.g. the long absent snails scene), but also clear differences in villager motives and levels of complicity in what transpires.
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