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War Requiem: 20th Anniversary Edition [DVD]

Nathaniel Parker , Tilda Swinton , Derek Jarman    Suitable for 12 years and over   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
Price: 8.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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War Requiem: 20th Anniversary Edition [DVD] + Wittgenstein [1993] [DVD] + Edward II [DVD] [1991]
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Product details

  • Actors: Nathaniel Parker, Tilda Swinton, Sean Bean, Laurence Olivier, Owen Teale
  • Directors: Derek Jarman
  • Format: Dolby, PAL
  • 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: 12
  • Studio: Second Sight
  • DVD Release Date: 10 Nov 2008
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001DN7IWG
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 43,267 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Derek Jarman's critically-acclaimed visual evocation of the original recording of Benjamin Britten's choral masterpiece which blended the Latin Mass of the Dead with the poignant poetry of British First World War poet, Wilfred Owen. Dramatised scenes, featuring performances from the likes of Nathaniel Parker, Tilda Swinton, Sean Bean and Laurence Olivier, are interwoven with cinematic, poetic images and harrowing archive footage which all serve to recreate the horrors of 20th century warfare.

Product Description

With no spoken dialogue but set against the music and lyrics of Benjamin Britten's 'War Requiem', which includes World War One Soldier Wilfred Owen's poems reflecting the horrors of the war, War Requiem is the story of an English soldier, and his nurse (who later became his wife) as they try to live their lives during the inescapable horrors and loss of World War One. Special Features: Commentary With Producer Don Boyd, Documentary featuring interview with Tilda Swinton and key cast members

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars War Requiem 25 May 2009
Moving - an expressionist interpretation rather than straightforward representative film: it's not an easy watch, more like a visual poem or abstract painting and you have to know some of Owen's biographical history to understand it.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a deeply moving experience 1 Aug 2008
By Jill
With only the soundtrack of Britten's War Requiem in the background and Wilfred Owen's poetry -- read by Sir Laurence Olivier, in his last film --this film packs a powerful punch. It's not without its occasional flaw, but it's still one of the most moving, beautiful films I've ever seen. Despite the still of Sean Bean on the cover of the new edition, it's Tilda Swinton and Nathaniel Parker (in his first film) who are the main actors, and they both do a very fine (as in delicate and subtle) job. You'll also recognise several other well-known character actors from the British Isles.

Jarman's message isn't a subtle one -- it isn't meant to be -- but it speaks clearly. Please don't sit through this with a bowl of popcorn on your lap: it's not that kind of film. It's serious stuff and, generally, brilliantly done. Highly recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag 21 July 2012
By Clif
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This will appeal to a narrow group of people who are interested in experimental cinema. It can in no way be regarded as an "easy" introduction to Britten's great War Requiem oratorio. You need to know the oratorio itself and some background to the poet Wilfred Owen in order to make sense of the film. Much of the libretto comes from the Latin Requiem Mass and no text or subtitles are provided. Getting to know the oratorio itself is worthwhile homework, as it ranks as one of the major musical achievements of the 20th Century, with a universal and very moving impact. So if you don't already know the oratorio, get a CD of it first (one that contains the libretto with translations) or better still attend a live performance, and be prepared for an unforgettable experience.

The original Decca audio recording of the musical work is presented in its entirety without interruptions or additions, apart from a short prologue spoken by (and featuring) Sir Laurence Olivier (incidentally, his last performance, made shortly before his death). The visual material varies between illustration of, and reaction to, the musical work. At its best (e.g. the Hiroshima scene towards the end) it combines brilliantly with the music to overwhelming effect, but at other times can seem curiously at variance with the oratorio text. This is a film on which critical opinion is likely to be deeply divided.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Pity Of War 14 Sep 2011
The 20th Anniversary Edition of Derek Jarman's bold and imaginative, if not unflawed, visual interpretation of Benjamin Britten's oratorio is valuable for its Special Features as for the film itself. There is a 'Recollections on the Making of the Film' with the producer Don Boyd and principal actors Tilda Swinton and Nathaniel Parker. As usual with such material there are too many fulsome tributes to the brilliance of the artists but much that is interesting (for example, the gay connexion between Jarman, Britten and Wilfred Owen, whose powerful First World War poetry provides part of the text of the oratorio). A feature on a performance in Liverpool Cathedral in 2008 makes one regret not being a member of the audience on that occasion; and Don Boyd provides a fascinating audio commentary on the film itself, which includes some horrific but, in the context, appropriate archive footage. Mercifully (at the insistence of the Britten Estate) there is no compromise with the musical score : the composer's own definitive Decca recording with soloists from Britain, Germany and Russia is used without any editing. Its concluding pages are as moving in their evocation of eternal rest and reconciliation as any music ever written.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Britten's War Requiem 28 May 2010
By Blair
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
An excellent and very moving film, true to Britten's music. Derek Jarman's film shows the tragedy of war very movingly. Come and hear it sung in York Minster on June 23rd 2010.
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5.0 out of 5 stars More absurd than war you die 5 July 2014
This film is of course the meeting of three artists. The poet Wilfred Owen, the composer Benjamin Britten and the film maker Derek Jarman.

Let's speak of Jarman here. He is perfectly at ease with this project because of many reasons but first of all because he is a visual painter and as such he is probably at his best in this film because he has to follow the music and the words, half of the latter being in Latin and the rest in English. He is not the author of this text that is sung to the music of Benjamin Britten. So Jarman must paint the music, paint the words, show us in striking live images the meaning of this oratorio or requiem and the strong trauma this war was and still is, even today when we are going to "celebrate" the one hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the most absurd human butchery, the most meaningless barbaric slaughter that leaves us senseless when we look at it.

He shows first of all the tremendous suffering this war was for the men, for each man and for the clusters of men that had to live the war through together, a fighting unit and within that fighting unit some smaller groups or couples that more or less got bonded by the absurdity of this suffering. The officer that was living with the men in the trenches was necessarily the empathetic and supportive "father" of his men, though he was hardly older than them and even at times younger. This bond between men in uncontrollable suffering, pain and inevitable death becomes superhuman and even divine. The real god for such men is the small gestures of help and compassion they find in the men they are sitting next to, they are fighting with not even against a common enemy, but for the sake of invisible industrialists and politicians.
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