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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Having read the synopsis on the back of the video case, I wasn't too enthusiastic about watching this film. However, it was highly recommended to me, and not without good reason.
Since this site already provides a description of the plot, I won't go into detail, save to say that it is well written and carefully considered. On that note, although the film borrows...
Published on 21 Feb 2005 by Chaz

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fragmented adaptation of a bleak and difficult novel
Jude The Obscure is not a jolly read. It sealed the reputation of Hardy as a bleak depressing writer (wrongly in my view) and put him off writing novels for good. Michael Winterbottom tries the Polanski trick and simply calls his adaptation Jude.

For a start, it is a somewhat misleading cover. The Costume Collection indicates period drama that will have lovely...
Published 17 months ago by Miss Scarlett


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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 21 Feb 2005
By 
This review is from: Jude [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
Having read the synopsis on the back of the video case, I wasn't too enthusiastic about watching this film. However, it was highly recommended to me, and not without good reason.
Since this site already provides a description of the plot, I won't go into detail, save to say that it is well written and carefully considered. On that note, although the film borrows only the core story from the novel on which it is based, this does not in the least detract from the finished product. Fans of the novel may initially be disapointed, but if you can disconnect the two (as they are really separate creations) then this is a highly enjoyable piece of cinema.
The acting here is of a very high standard, and the two leads are so convincing in their portrayal of their respective characters that you can not help but be drawn into the complex relationship between the two. Their relationship is really the focal point of the film, with its constant twists and turns. It faces oposition almost from the start, and it is heartbreaking to watch as it blossoms into something wonderful, only to come crashing down again.
Despite dealing with dreams and ambitions, and portraying society at that time, this film is, at heart, a love story. As such, its market will be sadly divided and, at the risk of sounding stereotypical, I can't help but feel that many males will miss out on a fantastic portrayal of forbidden love. I shall certainly treasure this film for a long time to come.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gloriously morbid and bleak, 26 Dec 2007
By 
This review is from: Jude [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
This film really is a feast for manic depressives! On the one hand, you have the spirited banter between the two leads and the effusive giggliness of Arabella's character and on the other hand, starkly grim scenes of death and birth. For the squeamish, these could be stomach-churning: a pig is gruesomely killed and unceremoniously gutted; bodies are found ashen with death; and, most extraordinarily of all, when Sue (Kate Winslet) is shown giving birth, the bloody head of her baby is visible between her spread-eagled legs. It is fitting that Michael Winterbottom's adaptation of Thomas Hardy's novel should shock and horror to this degree: when Jude the Obscure was first published in 1895, it prompted widespread outcry from Victorian readers who denounced it as "coarse beyond belief" and mockingly referred to it as "Jude the Obscene". Aghast at the novel's apparent "insolence and indecency", the Bishop of Wakefield rather hysterically threw it into the fire after reading it. It was to become Hardy's last novel: he subsequently abandoned narrative-writing for poetry.

For its outspoken critique of class inequalities (in particular with regard to university admissions), the institution of marriage, Christianity, and the narrowness of women's social role, Jude the Obscure is today regarded as radical and a classic. Played with panache by a 20-year old Winslet, Sue Brideshead is a paradigmatic New Woman of the 1880s and 1890s - her very surname reflects the conflict between her headstrong nature and the social expectation that she should marry. Christopher Eccleston makes for a sterling Jude: a Dorset countryman and stonemason, angrily frustrated about his rejection from Christminster, who is tolerant of his authoritarian Aunt (June Wakefield), steadfastly honourable in marrying the supposedly pregnant Arabella (Rachel Griffiths), a pigfarmer's daughter, and warmly supportive towards his true love and nemesis, Sue (especially in the scene when they first make love). Ross Colvin Turnball also deserves a mention as the touching and melancholy son as do Eduardo Serra's beautiful cinematography and Adrian Johnston's musical score.

This film is not, however, flawless. There are quite a few implausibilities: Arabella's exit from Jude's life is inexplicably abrupt; when the young Jude is discovered feeding black crows which he is meant to scare away, the farmer pounces on him in a huge field that was empty a few seconds before; and Arabella, too, is a considerable way off, washing pig innards in a stream, when she is supposed to have been able to correctly aim a pig's heart at Jude, who is seen reading Latin in woodland. Hossein Amini's script is sometimes too modern in its vocabulary as well ("Well, you're confrontational!" says Sue at one point and at another "I'm intellectualising, aren't I?").

Jude is nevertheless a brilliantly unsanitized, emotionally intense film that is sombre and tragic - but not without light.

For fans of: Breaking The Waves (DVD), The Cement Garden (DVD), The Piano (DVD) and Dancer In The Dark (DVD)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fragmented adaptation of a bleak and difficult novel, 12 Nov 2012
This review is from: Jude [DVD] (DVD)
Jude The Obscure is not a jolly read. It sealed the reputation of Hardy as a bleak depressing writer (wrongly in my view) and put him off writing novels for good. Michael Winterbottom tries the Polanski trick and simply calls his adaptation Jude.

For a start, it is a somewhat misleading cover. The Costume Collection indicates period drama that will have lovely costumes and be a fun Jane Austen type of film. Jude is set in the nineteenth century but there are no beautiful costumes and it's about as far from Austen that you can get.

If you read Tess of The D'Urbervilles, Jude (Christopher Eccleston) is basically the male version of that. Jude aspires to go to Christminster (the equivilent of Oxford in Hardy's fictional county Wessex) to study. He is thwarted not only by money but by his ill-advised marriage to country wench Arabella, who abandons him. Jude falls in love with his newly met cousin Sue Bridehead (Kate Winslet) but their love is tragic, culminating in a horrific tragedy.

The problem in adapting the novel as a film for a modern day audience is the bleak tone. To be fair, there are some happy moments in the novel but Winterbottom doesn't show us any of them. He sucks out anything from the novel that is not bleak and depressing, which doesn't make for enjoyable viewing. The other problem is that it's hard to root for Jude and Sue's incestuous relationship. In the novel, Arabella has a sadistic streak but in this film, she's simply a bit loose, so it's not as if we want Jude to have any happiness he can get. The relationship is played out much better in the novel- not because of Eccleston and Winslet's acting but because the film doesn't have time to explore it.

Everybody complains about the graphic sexual scenes but this is one of the things that Winterbottom actually gets right (even if they aren't very erotic). Although the novel doesn't have such scenes, Hardy would have written them if he could get away with it- Jude spends a lot of the novel staring at Arabella and Sue's breasts. Jude is blighted with erotolepsy (Hardy's made-up word for sex addiction). He is blinded by his sexual desire for Arabella and neglects his reading for Sue. Eccleston really goes for the idea that Jude has no control over his desires and it works. It may not make the character particularly likeable but I think that we can sympathise with him in some respects, whether we'd admit it or not.

Kate Winslet does what she did in Titanic, which works, even if it may not seem adventurous. If you can bear the bleak material, Winslet gets completely naked, if you're a fan. Perhaps the feminist interpretation is laid on a bit thickly but it does not feel untrue to the novel. Jude needs strong women to compensate for his own weakness.

The novel is very hard to translate into cinematic terms and Winterbottom doesn't succeed. What we are left with is bleak fragments- well acted but not adding up to a coherent film. The ending is not the same as the novel and is a complete anti-climax, although it does make the film slightly less bleak than it could have been.

The DVD is a bare bones DVD. As I recall, it has subtitles and scene selection but there are no special features.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The BEST Kate film!, 1 Sep 2000
This review is from: Jude [VHS] [1996] (VHS Tape)
After reading "Jude the Obscure" I induldged in the luxery of having a classic come to life, and believe me, in this film the excellent cast and script make this movie as moving as the epic novel by Hardy. Kate is fantastic; romantic, intelligent, distraught and most importantly realistic. With Ecclestone, this movie touches the hearts of anybody who watches it, just as the novel gripped the loyal reader. Everytime I watch this film I am uncontrolably moved by "Done because we are too many" and the portrayal of the book beyond this heart wrenching scene is superb. Cerainley my favourite adaption of a classic, and I would rather watch this than "Titanic" any day.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartfelt performances, 22 Jan 2006
By 
Emma B "Em" (Cambridge, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Jude [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
I've read that this was meant to be a breakthrough film for Christopher Eccleston and audiences stayed away. They missed a classic. I did see this on its release and was blown away by it and always am when I watch it again. Not every film has to have a happy ending and Jude won't give you that but then that's not the point. The imagery is stunning and Christopher Eccleston delivers a compelling and emotive performance. He is simply awesome. One of the best films I have ever seen.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Film 5 stars or more, UK DVD just 2!! Get the German DVD on amazon.de, 30 Aug 2007
This review is from: Jude [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
A short synopsis will follow below. I will start with the most important information first: This film is cut! It is in a full screen 4:3 format whereas the original theater version is 2.35:1
You can however buy the original uncut version on amazon.de : "Herzen in Aufruhr" a Universal DVD (but what an awful title). It is in English (with only German subtitles - but easily removable) and dubbed into German. The picture is clear and crisp. Worth the additional shipping costs.
On the movie. A wonderful sad love story based on Thomas Hardy's classic novel. Beautiful! Terrific camera work, great acting.
Those who think the movie is not the book, well, sure it isn't. A film needs other storytelling and I think the critics should leave a director and his crew the freedom of their own interpretation.
Jude (Christopher Eccleston - terrific) is a stonemason who is eager to learn, to read. He is briefly married to a local girl but soon discovers he wants more of life than what the situation can provide. He moves to Christminster to be closer his beloved scholars. There he meets his cousin Sue (Kate Winslet - marvellous) and falls deeply in love with the lovely but very different and unconventional young woman. Society rejects their love and pushes them into tragedy.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Painful, compulsive viewing, 20 April 2002
This review is from: Jude [VHS] [1996] (VHS Tape)
This film is loosely based on the Hardy novel, "Jude the Obscure", and is true to the spirit, if not the detail of the book. Jude is played by Christopher Eccleston, who manages to convey the intensity and passion of a man who always yearns desperately for what he cannot have. Kate Winslet is initially a pert and rather over-confident Sue Bridehead, but as the plot unfolds, she portrays Sue's naked despair in a manner that is uncomfortable to watch. The soundtrack - written by Adrian Johnstone - provides a sensitive backdrop to the screen events. Don't watch this expecting total fidelity to the Hardy novel, but it does manage to dramatise the despair and frustration that envelop Jude so thoroughly.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tragic and tormenting, 20 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Jude [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
I own the UK version (Region 2) DVD as I it was available in the US. This movie is always so hard to watch as you feel to sad and drained afterwards. Kate is fantastic as Sue and you see her potential and her spirit shine that once shined so brightly, begin to dim through the course of her life. Chris Ecclestone reveals an inhibited passion for Sue hindered by what seems a cursed life, and you can really feel the intensity between Jude and Sue. The movie is a favourite of mine for its dramatic intensity and character complexities. Thomas Hardy fans may disagree with the screen adaption but I think it is very well done as it is a dark and depressing story and has a pace to keep your spirits up long enough to finish the film. The lead actors completely make this movie bearable for the fine and polished performances. The DVD has been re-mastered and you can hear the difference especially in the scene where Sue goes to see Jude and the rain is falling in the background. I really would have liked to see interviews with the director and the actors and some more extras but all in all, superb and sombre.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "We'll move on again, and again, and again. As long as it takes for the world to change.", 27 Aug 2008
By 
@GeekZilla9000 "I am completely operational a... (Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Jude [DVD] [1996] (DVD)
This is the story of a young man who seeks to better himself and achieve what is not expected from a man of his background. The journey seems promising, but after a series of events he is left to salvage dignity and hang on to his pride. The film successfully captures the spirit of inner-torment over unrequited love, and the carefree joy that comes when finally able to express that love.

"Jude" moves from happy optimism to being unbearably painful in a scene which is chilling to watch. Two lovers pay the ultimate price for being a modern couple in an age of conservatism. The actual moment I refer to is underplayed, but by this point we are absolutely convinced by the characters, we know how they think and feel. The intensity of the situation is magnified by the sterling performances of Kate Winslet, and the fabulous Christopher Eccleston.

The back of this DVD proudly announces a digital remastering, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Unless that pudding's a DVD, in which case it's in the on screen visuals, and this case, it's disappointing. There seems to be a lot of `floating detail' - maybe a product of over-rigourous noise reduction which removes artefacts from the video to give a smoother picture. If over-done though it can remove details from things such as faces and anything well textured. In well lit scenes this isn't too bad - but in darker scenes the details seem to float around and there's a lot of smearing. Unless you're watching this on a massive screen it won't ruin the experience for you though, but it is a bit annoying. Many scenes are quite blurry too - but I think this is from the initial filming rather than anything to do with the transfer to DVD. It is noticeable though and you find yourself squinting at the screen trying to sharpen the focus.

In a nutshell: A great on-screen portrayal of a classic story. It's all been done before but here it feels fresh and the characters come alive. It is let down though by a less than impressive DVD release. This deserves better treatment, and is a perfect candidate for bonus features - which unfortunately you don't get. A four star film in a two star DVD package.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Do not expect a happy end, 4 Feb 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Jude [VHS] [1996] (VHS Tape)
This screen adaptation of the classic by Thomas Hardy (Jude the Obscure) stars Christopher Eccleston as Jude Fawley and a slim Kate Winslet as his cousin, Sue Bridehead. Strong supporting roles are provided by Rachel Griffiths, June Whitfield and Liam Cunningham.
The film starts like many American films: someone poor and disadvantaged has a driving ambition to succeed. If this were an American film, we would be sure of a happy ending: Jude finds a well-paid job and lives happily ever after with Sue and the children. Anyone familiar with the work of Thomas Hardy will expect fate to intervene and somehow make it impossible for the protagonists to realize their dreams. If Thomas Hardy had been born somewhat later and worked as a screenwriter, I cannot help thinking he would have specialized in the film noir genre.
My main criticism is that none of the actors manages an authentic Dorset accent, with the possible exception of June Whitfield. Christopher Eccleston attempts one but invariably goes back to his Manchester accent. Rachel Griffiths produces something that sounds more like an Irish accent whilst Kate Winslet usually speaks like she does in Titanic.
The film contains a few very strong scenes: a pig being slaughtered and disembowelled as well as a close-up of Kate Winslet giving birth.
As a screen adaptation of one of the classics of English literature there is a lot of material, feeling pain and suffering, crammed into 110 minutes, so much so that I kept finding new meaning after four viewings. Perhaps those familiar with Hardy will prefer to read the novel whilst those who are not will find this adaptation slow and depressing. The highlight for Winslet fans may well be seeing her totally naked, but I doubt they would think it worth sitting through the whole file for those 15 seconds.
This is an excellent film, faithful to the Hardy classic. The highlights of the film are the excellent cinematography and the outstanding original score by Adrian Johnston. I would strongly recommend this film with the caveat that it may not be suitable for those without the stomach to take the scenes described above or those who would find a tragic story too distressing.
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Jude [DVD] [1996]
Jude [DVD] [1996] by Michael Winterbottom (DVD - 2001)
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