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The Bostonians [DVD]

3.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

Price: £2.73
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Product details

  • Actors: Christopher Reeve, Vanessa Redgrave, Madeleine Potter, Jessica Tandy, Nancy Marchand
  • Directors: James Ivory
  • Producers: Ismail Merchant
  • Format: 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: PG
  • Studio: Merchant Ivory
  • DVD Release Date: 6 Sept. 2004
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002W13RU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 122,764 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

James Ivory's adaptation of Henry James' novel. A young woman (Madeleine Potter) is torn between her physical feelings for a struggling lawyer (Christopher Reeve), who wants to marry her, and her passionate attachment to a suffragette (Vanessa Redgrave) and the fledgeling Women's Movement.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
Set in 1875, this Merchant-Ivory film focuses on the post-Civil War intellectual community of Boston and Cambridge, bringing to life the suffragist movement, which passionately involved many of its women. Verena Tarrant (Madeleine Potter) is a beautiful and charming young woman who draws large, paying crowds to hear her speak about "the just revolution," which would free women from their second class status. Though Verena describes herself as "only a girl, a simple American girl," her strength as a speaker quickly brings her to the attention of Olive Chancellor (Vanessa Redgrave), an older woman whose dedication to the movement, and eventually to Verena, is single-minded and all-consuming.
When Verena moves in with the overly protective Olive, Olive wants her to promise that she will never marry, but the inevitable happens. Basil Ransom (Christopher Reeve), Olive's cousin, arrives from the south, and is immediately smitten by Verena. Soon Verena must face the conflicts between her loyalties toward Olive and the movement, and her growing love for Basil.
The script by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, based on the novel by Henry James, brings the passionate commitment of the suffragists to life, and the direction by James Ivory shows the pervasive effects of the movement on both men and women, from Harvard students to elderly matriarchs and pioneering female doctors. The costumes, which were nominated for an Academy Award, and the settings in Boston's Back Bay drawing rooms and shore-side summer homes give a liveliness and reality to the period which James's own intricate, philosophical prose sometimes lacks. Supporting roles by Jessica Tandy, Linda Hunt, Wally Shawn, and Nancy Marchand add power and dramatic intrigue to the emotional tug-of-war for the soul of Verena.
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Format: DVD
Set in 1875, this Merchant-Ivory film focuses on the post-Civil War intellectual community of Boston and Cambridge, bringing to life the suffragist movement, which passionately involved many of its women. Verena Tarrant (Madeleine Potter) is a beautiful and charming young woman who draws large, paying crowds to hear her speak about "the just revolution," which would free women from their second class status. Though Verena describes herself as "only a girl, a simple American girl," her strength as a speaker quickly brings her to the attention of Olive Chancellor (Vanessa Redgrave), an older woman whose dedication to the movement, and eventually to Verena, is single-minded and all-consuming.
When Verena moves in with the overly protective Olive, Olive wants her to promise that she will never marry, but the inevitable happens. Basil Ransom (Christopher Reeve), Olive's cousin, arrives from the south, and is immediately smitten by Verena. Soon Verena must face the conflicts between her loyalties toward Olive and the movement, and her growing love for Basil.
The script by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, based on the novel by Henry James, brings the passionate commitment of the suffragists to life, and the direction by James Ivory shows the pervasive effects of the movement on both men and women, from Harvard students to elderly matriarchs and pioneering female doctors. The costumes, which were nominated for an Academy Award, and the settings in Boston's Back Bay drawing rooms and shore-side summer homes give a liveliness and reality to the period which James's own intricate, philosophical prose sometimes lacks. Supporting roles by Jessica Tandy, Linda Hunt, Wally Shawn, and Nancy Marchand add power and dramatic intrigue to the emotional tug-of-war for the soul of Verena.
Read more ›
2 Comments 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
It is with great regret that one has to watch what could have been a great film go to rot. The Bostonians is one of the most special novels written by Henry James, and surely he meant to put into the story something more than the struggle between a repressed lesbian and a conservative, agreeable man for the preference of a charming young girl. That simplified storyline is not what James wrote about. And it is not the casting that is the problem. Vanessa Redgrave could have made a beutiful Olive, if only the script had emphasized her role as an intellectual mentor instead of reproducing a hidden sexual lesbian passion that certainly does not exist in the book! Similarly, Christopher Reeve seems charming as Basil Ransom, but a more careful director (I am sorry, Mr James Ivory, but you have destroyed one of my favorite novels when you had all the elements to make a better film) would have introduced some of the ambiguities inherent in Henry James' Basil: he is persuasive, but he is more preoccupied to assert his masculinity than actually in love with Verena. In James' novel the final paragraph is crucial: we are made to see that though Verena chooses Basil, her decision will eventually make her unhappy:

"Ah, now I am glad!" said Verena, when they reached the street. But though she was glad, he presently discovered that, beneath her hood, she was in tears. It is to be feared that with the union, so far from brilliant, into which she was about to enter, these were not the last she was destined to shed."

But by now James Ivory's adaptation has gone so far wrong that such subtleties have no place in his far from honest adaptation.
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