Customer Review

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the Bottom of the Deck!, 17 July 2007
This review is from: The House of Cards Trilogy [1990] [DVD] (DVD)
What if Shakespeare's Lord and Lady Macbeth had been temporally transported into twenty-first century Britain? They would certainly be reincarnated into the insidious Francis Urquhart and his formidable spouse Elizabeth. In their new personae, 'MacUrquhart' would still be haunted by guilty visions but would shed any qualms about committing murder in the interests of power, and 'Lady MacUrquhart' would waste no more time sleepwalking but sustain her role as the actual but invisible control over the man with titular authority.

The "House of Cards Trilogy," which includes "To Play the King" and "Final Cut," not only portrays such a ghastly scenario, but also demonstrates the disastrous consequences for a post-modern Britain when such a pair first insinuates itself into a position of power and then seizes and maintains an unrelenting grip on that power, even if, in the final analysis, it has to provoke a bloody war to do so. Thanks to Andrew Davies' darkly comedic script, Ian Richardson's brilliant portrayal of Francis, and a splendid supporting cast, the viewer is locked in suspense and held in a state somewhere between laughing and cringing at the political shenanigans, too many of which resound with an uncomfortable ring of contemporary probability.

The humor derives from Richardson as Francis, who ruptures the invisible barrier between illusion and reality by taking the audience into his confidence. In "House of Cards" he does this with such wry wit that viewers are drawn easily into his thrall, so much so that despite their better natures and common sense, they find themselves liking and identifying with this charming unapologetic scoundrel. Somewhere in the middle of "To Play the King," however, they realize, to their increasing horror, that by sharing in his most intimate thoughts, they have actually become co-conspirators in the machinations of Urquhart, who in a literal blink of the eye transforms congeniality into the mesmerizing malevolence of a king cobra. By the time they have become absorbed in the plot of "Final Cut," they are inextricably tied to Urquhart's fate, as on a runaway train. Thus the scenario becomes metaphorical for the public's unfortunate propensity to be seduced by plausible but unscrupulous politicians who draw them into situations that they might not realize are unsupportable until it is too late. The repeated use in "To Play the King" of Urquhart's initials, F.U., illustrates this proposition.

The late Ian Richardson's ability to keep the audience enthralled in the destiny of this despicable rogue testifies to his incomparable subtlety as an actor, who will be sorely missed. The lynchpin of the tale, Richardson is amply supported by an ensemble cast, including Diane Fletcher as his horrific wife; Colin Jeavens as Tim Stamper, his `whip' who wields 'a bit of stick'; Nicholas Grace as Stamper's toadying successor, Geoffrey Booza-Pitt; and Nick Brimble as the sinister Corder. Among Urquhart's memorable victims are Michael Kitchen as the well-meaning king, Susanna Harker as the unstable Mattie Storrin, Kitty Aldrich as the altruistic Sarah, to name only a few. All characters in this cautionary tale are vulnerable to the enticements of power, even those who begin as honest idealists. When Corder informs the nobly motivated Tom Makepeace, who eventually succeeds Urquhart as leader of the party, that "we"--meaning Corder, Elizabeth, and the rest--are "right behind" him, one understands the story's message that all politicians, even those with the best of motives, are liable to being corrupted absolutely by the acquisition of absolute power.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 

Comments


Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Dec 2011 17:33:17 GMT
well we all know that to be true!!
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details

Item

4.6 out of 5 stars (326 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (260)
4 star:
 (39)
3 star:
 (13)
2 star:
 (5)
1 star:
 (9)
 
 
 
34.99 23.99
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Reviewer

F. S. L'hoir
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Irvine, CA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 439