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Comrades [DVD] [1986]

4.2 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Vanessa Redgrave, James Fox, Michael Hordern, Barbara Windsor, Robert Stephens
  • Directors: Bill Douglas
  • Format: Anamorphic, Widescreen, PAL, Dolby, Digital Sound
  • Language: English, French, Spanish
  • Subtitles: German
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • 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: 2
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Bfi Video
  • DVD Release Date: 27 July 2009
  • Run Time: 175 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0029XMXBU
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 93,624 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

The epic story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, six Dorset labourers deported to Australia in the 1830s for forming a trade union.

Unfolding in the pastoral haze of Dorset and blinding light of Australia, this beautiful film is rich with carefully layered visual illusions an nuances. With moving, profound performances from a magnificent cast - including Alex Norton, Imelda Staunton, Robin Soans, Philip Davis, Vanessa Redgrave, Keith Allen and Barbara Windsor - this is a compelling account of struggle and injustice.

This distinctive feature from a director of singular vision is presented in a new High-Definition restoration.

Extra Features:

  • Lanterna Magicka Bill Douglas & the Secret History of Cinema (2009, 60 minutes), an insightful new documentary on Douglas life and work.
  • Visions of: Comrades (2009, 15 minutes) cast-members recall making the film.
  • Bill Douglas interviews (1978, total 33 minutes)
  • Home and Away (Michael Alexander, 1974, 31 minutes) charming short film co-scripted by Douglas.
  • News report from the set of Comrades.
  • Original Comrades trailer.
  • Fully illustrated booklet including new essay, visual material, archive Q&A with Bill Douglas, biography, cast and credits etc
  • PCM stereo audio (48k/16bit) (extras Dolby Digital 640kbps)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
The BFI seems to have taken it upon themselves to remind us of our Working-class history this month. Along with Brownlow and Mollo's superlative "Winstanley" (1975), "Comrades" turns our attention to another piece of semi-socilaist history; That of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, seven men who created a "Friendly Society" to protest the lowering of general wages during the early 1830s. Although the Combination Acts of 1824/5 legalised what we would consider to be a Trade Union, landowner James Frampton incurred an old 18th-Century act against illegal oaths to have the men arrested, tried and deported to Australia. The men bar one were released in 1836 and moved to London, Ontario. Their trials and tribulations remain in the forefront of the history of rights in the UK, and they deserve an appropriate film to celebrate them.

So how does Bill Douglas's film stand up to scrutiny? Douglas had already completed his Childhood trilogy ("My Childhood" (1972), "My Ain Folk" (1973) and "My Way Home" (1978)) which put him in good stead to write and direct a working-class hero themed film. And yes, in most aspects the man succeeded. An admirable cast which feature such mainstays as Keith Allen, James Fox and Freddie Jones accurately portray the wronged men, and although the cinematography sometimes degenerates into Chocolate-Box gaudiness (Was it an attempt to do a Terence Malick?) the colours are vivid and the contrast between rainy Dorset and parched New South Wales is masterfully portrayed. And yes, the inevitable Romanticism does ooze through at points in order to stir emotion, it's mostly tastefully done and at a low budget. Bravo.

What of the package? Hell, this is the BFI and they never ever do things in halves (Bless them).
Read more ›
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Format: DVD
Working class filmmaker Bill Douglas followed his much lauded autobiographical trilogy with this British Film Council funded poor man's epic about the Tolpuddle Martyrs and their struggle to establish an early trade union that was a worthy winner of the BFI Sutherland Trophy and a fitting final film for the director.

Soans puts in a strong central performance with able support from Gaminara, Bateman, Davis, Flynn and a roguish Allen, whilst Hordern, Jones, Fox, Windsor, Redgrave and an astonishing debut performance Staunton rounds out the cast and the omnipresent Norton fills in everything else.

The director retells the tale on a grand scale breathing new life into the story with atmospheric locations that perfectly capture rural Dorset and colonial Australia whilst remembering his own place as the story teller, in the form of the lanternist and his bag of tricks, and never loosing the central message of the union movement.

Remember thine end.
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Format: DVD
Bill Douglas always went his own way in making films, caring little for fashion or convention. So the first thing that strikes the viewer of Comrades is the strangeness of the technique - long slow shots, silences, abrupt transitions, and above all, the decision to present the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs as if it was a sort of lantern-show. But allow the film-maker his licence to work magic - and yes, the magic does work! This piece of cinematography grips and carries you into the experience of these men and their families, especially their sense of being made to feel social outcasts simply for standing up for their basic rights, in a way that few other films succeed in doing.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
More famous for his trilogy of growing up in Scotland Bill Douglas was an undoubted socialist. Here he sets out to tell the tale of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. They were a group of farm workers and labourers in the nineteenth century who decided to do something about the unfair working conditions and wages that were being forced on them by unscrupulous and over privileged land owners. So they formed one of the first ever trade unions.

Whilst this was not a crime in itself, it did not stop the authorities from stitching them up and having them `transported' for seven years to Australia to face all the privations of convict status in the burgeoning colony.

The story is told through the lens of a lanternist and there are many references to the forms of entertainment of the time. The actors are also very noteworthy, Keith Allen, Philip Davies, James Fox, Vanessa Redgrave, Imelda Staunton and Barbara Windsor to name but a few. A special mention to Alex Norton who played over ten roles including the aforementioned lanternist and I never spotted it.

This is a beautifully filmed piece of cinema with fantastic attention to period detail filmed at Cerne Abbas in Dorset. There is real filth and detritus and the grime on the convicts always looks genuine. It is long at 176 minutes (my version - the BFI restoration) but is a great chronicle of a vital piece of our history and also a unique piece of cinema - absolutely essential viewing.
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Format: DVD
Every lover of British cinema, or indeed of the motion pictures, should delight in this magnificent gem. The print is top quality and the accompanying leaflet gives much valuable information about this unique feature film by one of the most intriguing Scottish directors ever. Based on a harrowing episode of nineteenth century labour conflicts in Dorset, it features impeccable acting by a cast of non-professional actors (to portray the working class) while the aristocrats are played by the cream of British actors (Vanessa Redgrave and the like). The mere quality of the photography is dazzling and the editor is none other than Mick Audsley, a regular of Terry Gilliam, Stephen Frears and other equally impressive filmmakers.
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