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Spider [DVD] [2003]

34 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson, Gabriel Byrne, Lynn Redgrave, John Neville
  • Directors: David Cronenberg
  • Writers: Patrick McGrath
  • Producers: David Cronenberg, Catherine Bailey, Charles Finch, Guy Tannahill, Hannah Leader
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Whv
  • DVD Release Date: 14 July 2003
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00009P9M4
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 40,574 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Having just left the mental institution where he has lived for the past 20 years, Spider (Ralph Fiennes) takes up residence at the East London boarding house run by Mrs Wilkinson (Miranda Richardson). As he walks these same streets where he grew up, he begins to recall the traumatic events which lead to his breakdown. Piece by piece, Spider's memory comes together, and as it does, his grip on reality grows ever more tenuous. Directed by David Cronenberg.


Internal madness is hypnotically externalized in David Cronenberg's Spider, a disturbing portrait of schizophrenia. Adapted by Patrick McGrath from his celebrated novel, this no-frills production begins when "Spider" Cleg (Ralph Fiennes, in a daring, nearly nonverbal role) returns to his childhood neighbourhood in London's dreary East End, where a traumatic event from his past percolates to the surface of his still-erratic consciousness.

Released from a mental institution and left to fend for himself, he pursues elusive memories while staying in a halfway house run by a stern matron (Lynn Redgrave), unable to distinguish between past, present, and psychological fabrication. The distorting influence of Spider's mind is directly reflected in Cronenberg's cunning visual strategy, presenting a shifting "reality" that's deliberately untrustworthy, until the veracity of nearly every scene is called into question. With an impressive dual-role performance by Miranda Richardson, Spider falls prey to its own lugubrious rhythms, but like the acclaimed 1995 indie film Clean, Shaven, it's a compelling glimpse of mental illness, seen from the inside out. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By J Grant on 28 Feb. 2006
Format: DVD
David Cronenberg, Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson and Gabriel Burne in a Patrick McGrath adaptation. All these high quality peices fit together to provide an assured and perfectly paced film. This is mature Cronenberg, so the heads stay in one peice; its the minds that fracture instead. Depicting mental illness in an unsensational style, in a dour and miserable 50's London, this is a disturbing and sad work that gets its teeth into issues of loneliness, isolation and family breakdown. Not one for a saturday night then.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan James Romley on 10 Jan. 2008
Format: DVD
After glancing over some the previous comments for Spider (2002), as well as several other somewhat similar films that explore various comparable themes, I have come to the conclusion that audiences today don't want to be challenged. A sad fact indeed, since David Cronenberg's Spider is one of the more challenging English-language films of the last couple of years.

Told in an entirely subjective fashion that owes much to the work of writers like William S. Burroughs, Franz Kafka, Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, the film draws the audience into the lead character's mind and leaves them there to wander through a wavering maze of fact and fiction, reality and fantasy, the conscious and the subconscious, etc. The symbolic side of the film sees Cronenberg at his best; rejecting the adolescent sex and violence of his earlier work and instead building on the same highly psychological mind-space previously explored in his 1988 film Dead Ringers. There's also a certain reminiscent feeling to his two controversial literary adaptations of the 1990's, Naked Lunch (1991) and Crash (1998), both of which depicted a world as viewed through the eyes of a tormented character.

Cronenberg has always enjoyed chronicling the downward spiral of characters that have been psychologically damaged, but with Spider, novelist Patrick McGrath has created one of the ultimate cinematic schizophrenics. From his oversized shoes, to his nonsense book of gibberish, Spider is every rambling lunatic we've ever come across rolled into one. In lesser hands, the performance could have very easily veered towards Rain Man territory; however, with Fiennes in the lead role, this was never a danger.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By MARTIN Pope on 19 July 2003
Format: DVD
David Cronenberg's film of Patrick McGrath's novel "Spider" is easily his most assured and mature work to date. It's indeed quite a suprise to witness such a masterly paced and subtle movie from the director of "Scanners" and "Crash".
The film unfolds at a pace that many people may find "slow", however, every scene and action carries a subjective power and
ambiguity that is startling in it's bold rejection of all the usual Hollywood "attributes".
The performance of Ralph Fiennes is nothing short of miraculous.
He creates a sweating, grubby and virtually mute character of immense power. We can identify with this characters sense of dislocation with the world, regardless of his past "crime" and present shambolic state.
Miranda Richardson gives yet another astonishing performance in multiple roles and Gabriel Byrne is at his most restrained and
The colour cinematography and production design are exquisitely realised, with a beautifully limited colour palette and claustrophobic rendering of Spider's real and imagined world.
This DVD is a must for anyone really interested in movies and
i can't recommend this antidote to the usual Hollywood dross enough!
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Mary F. Sibley on 30 May 2004
Format: DVD
From the opening frames of the credits, the church hymn, the Rorschach prints and the measured and precise pacing of them, we are entering a world of a severely disengaged man, who has had the spectre of schizophrenia as his constant companion, both in his waking and sleeping hours. The mumblings and rememberances of Dennis Clegg (Ralph Fiennes) combine to make for a journey down Memory Lane that is unlike any that rational, thinking people would care to take, let alone inhabit and from which there is very little chance of escape.
Fiennes spends the length of the film attempting to piece together bits and pieces of times past in his childhood, that may or may not have happened. The prize in this herculanean effort is not so much to discover the unseemly goings on of his father, but rather seeking a discourse into the inner workings of Clegg's mind and what it potentially holds and abandons at will.
Dennis Clegg has been released into the care of a matron (Lynn Redgrave) in a halfway house in a decaying, dying section of London, that has become the home, heart and soul for others of his ilk; the mentally disabled, discharged from the asylum, but not quite ready for habitation in the outside world at large. His lodgings represent the underbelly of a netherworld that caters to no one and where rehabilitation is a foreign word, absent from the vocabulary of those in charge.
Redgrave plays Mrs. Wilkinson, the spawn of Nurse Ratchet, with a demeanor as cold as the grave and as uncaring as any you are likely to see. Hers is a job, nothing more, nothing less; an automaton in the flesh. John Neville (teamed again with Fiennes. He was in Sunshine.
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