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The Human Stain [DVD] [2004]


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Product details

  • Actors: Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, Gary Sinise, Wentworth Miller
  • Directors: Robert Benton
  • Writers: Nicholas Meyer, Philip Roth
  • Producers: Andre Lamal, Bob Weinstein, Eberhard Kayser, Gary Lucchesi, Harvey Weinstein
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Disney
  • DVD Release Date: 23 Aug. 2004
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001XLY9C
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 53,787 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

Director Robert Benton's drama based on the Philip Roth novel set during the Clinton era of the 1990s. Esteemed college professor Coleman Silk (Anthony Hopkins) has a secret. A 50-year-old secret that he has kept hidden from everyone - including his wife and children. After he makes an apparent racial comment about a pair of students, his career heads downwards and the scandal lingers. Meanwhile, writer Nathan Zuckerman (Gary Sinise) is researching a biography of Silk, getting ever closer to discovering Silk's secret and also about to uncover his affair with a young married janitor (Nicole Kidman) at the college. Can Silk save his career and prevent the closely-guarded truth of his life from being revealed?

From Amazon.co.uk

Given the formidable challenge of adapting Philip Roth's acclaimed novel to the screen, it's a wonder that The Human Stain retains so much of what makes Roth's novel a masterpiece. As adapted by Nicholas Meyer, Robert Benton's film is inevitably a different animal altogether, and it's wide open to charges of miscasting and thematic diffusion. But at its core, this delicate drama succeeds in exposing the sins that stain all of humanity, forcing men like former welterweight boxer and esteemed professor Coleman Silk (Anthony Hopkins) to forsake family and career to conceal his African American heritage. Light-skinned and passing as a Jewish professor of classics in a tony East Coast college, 71-year-old Silk sinks into scandal when an innocent remark is misinterpreted as a racist slur, and this--along with his affair with an illiterate 34-year-old janitor (Nicole Kidman), and friendship with a reclusive novelist (Gary Sinise)--forms the crux of Benton's multilayered inquiry into the oppressive aftershocks of guilt, shame, and mourning, and the effects of judgment (internal and external) on our ability to connect. Roth's novel was one thing, Benton's film is another. Despite differing degrees of success, both are worthy of praise. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 Jan. 2006
Format: DVD
Ooooo! THE HUMAN STAIN offered the potential for so many Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (Hopkins & Kidman), Best Supporting Actor (Miller, Harris, & Smith).
Hopkins is Coleman Silk, an aging and respected professor of literature at an idyllic New England liberal arts college, who, in the "now" of 1998, runs afoul of extremist political correctness. He's accused of racism after referring to two students, who've been absent from his class for the first 5 weeks of the term, as "spooks", i.e. ghosts. Silk has never met them under any circumstances, but, as bad luck would have it, they're both Black. Called onto the carpet by the Board, and receiving no support from those who should know better, Coleman angrily resigns. When Silk breaks the news to his wife, she suffers a fatal heart attack. As Coleman puts it, his persecutors killed the wrong person.
On the rebound, Silk meets Faunia Farely (Kidman), who holds down three blue collar jobs, is separated from her abusive husband, a psychotic Vietnam vet named Lester (Ed Harris), and who keeps the ashes of her two dead kids under the bed. Faunia describes her troubled situation as befitting "trailer trash", and carries more baggage than a loaded 747. But Silk is besotted, and embarks on a torrid love affair with the 30-year younger woman. As Silk declares to his writer friend Nathan (Gary Sinise):
"This is not my first love, it's not my great love, but it's my last love". It's love - and great sex - in the winter of Coleman's life. Even Viagra gets a verbal plug.
THE HUMAN STAIN is also a tale of "racial passing", i.e. the process of shifting one's racial identity. You see, Coleman has a secret that he's kept buried for decades.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Janice D on 3 Nov. 2004
Format: DVD
A director has the perogative to create a film as he sees fit. Just because the pace isn't speedy and rushed and it is 'flat' compared to the other 'action' films on the market, it doesn't make it a bad film.
The film was entirely appropriate to the novel. The pace was slow for a reason. Do you think the events that took place happened at an accelerated rate? NO! The characters lived and suffered and nothing about suffering is fast.
Alot happens in this film but you have to look deeply to find it. If everything in life needs to be served on a silver platter nothing would be interesting. If you pay attention (like you should whilst doing anything) you will notice more. Little jokes etc. shouldn't have to be obvious.
Characters develop, a story about the past unfolds and friendships form. Admittedly the role played by Ed Harris was under-developed and Gary Sinise's role was miss-cast but there have been worse mistakes in other movies that triumphed. (eg. Orlando Bloom's monotone performance in Lord of the Rings.) I completely agree with Jason Hood that Ed Harris' character deserved more screen time, (needed more screen time.)
I don't wish to pick a fight with the other reviewers, but I believe that if you give this movie a chance, you may come away with something. I think that as a movie it is entertaining but if you are not in the mood for a deep, intense film save it for another day. You have to be in the mood for it. If you ever have the time to watch it twice you may see that it's not so bad after all.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 8 Mar. 2007
Format: DVD
Classics Professor Coleman Silk (Anthony Hopkins), exasperated that two students have yet to show up for his class points to their empty seats and ask rhetorically, "Do they exist or are they spooks?" He should have chosen his words more carefully because the two absent students are black and Silk is subsequently charged with using racial slurs by the college.

Yes, this could definitely happen, although one would expect it to be cleared up once there was an investigation. However, Coleman Silk gets more than a little uptight. Something has hit a nerve. He has enemies. He doesn't cooperate and in fact resigns in face of the charge. His wife drops dead, and at the age of 71 Coleman gets involved in a Viagra-hyped love affair with Faunia Farley (Nicole Kidman), a 34-year-old cleaning woman and high school dropout with a past.

Turns out that Coleman too has a past, and that past partially explains why he got so uptight about the racial slur charge. Seems that Coleman has "passed." Seems that he was "colored" and didn't want to be colored and so forsook his family and passed into the white world and never looked back.

This is from the novel by Philip Roth, who has written many splendid novels. The adaptation is by Nicholas Meyer who did most of the scripts for the Star Trek movies. Robert Benton's direction is professional and clear. Anthony Hopkins is very good as one would expect and Nicole Kidman as a hardtack brunette with worry lines on her face is vividly real as the bitter, but vulnerable Faunia Farley. Ed Harris plays her also bitter, spaced-out, estranged husband, a twisted Viet Vet with malevolence on his mind.
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