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A Dance To The Music Of Time [DVD] [1997]

4.2 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Gillian Barge, Nicholas Jones, Simon Russell Beale, Robin Bailey, Jonathan Cake
  • Producers: Peter Ansorge
  • Format: PAL, Colour, Full Screen, HiFi Sound
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Cinema Club
  • DVD Release Date: 12 May 2003
  • Run Time: 480 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008V6ZP
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 57,559 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

James Purefoy stars, along with several British household names, in this television adaptation of Anthony Powell's 12 novels. The story revolves around friendship, murder, adultery, ambition and failure and is set against a backdrop of social, political and artistic life during the pivotal years of 20th Century England.

From the Back Cover

A Dance to the Music of Time, Anthony Powell’s epic literary masterpiece, is brought to the screen for the first time in this sumptuous adaptation. A glittering cast of over one hundred characters including Sir John Gieldgud, Miranda Richardson, Alan Bennett, Edward Fox and Zoe Wannamaker present a wonderfully comic and erotic vision of 20th century England.

Friendship, murder, adultery, ambition and failure are set against a backdrop of social, political and artistic life during the pivotal years of this century. The ‘dance’ creates a panoramic view of human experience which moves from the decadence of the early Twenties to the sobering Thirties, from the devastation of the Second World War to the world created in its aftermath. Centre stage is Kenneth Widmerpool. Once the butt of schoolboy jokes, his rise to power through business, the military and politics confounds his contemporaries. The comings and goings of Widmerpool and his circle, falling in and out of each other’s lives, is charted by the omnipresent Nicholas Jenkins, who guides us through the web of interwoven relationships. This video set, containing all four parts of the Channel Four Television series, sees the cream of British talent bring one of the most significant works of twentieth century English fiction to life.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Having read the books, I wondered how on earth they would manage to do them justice on the television. I have to say, I thought the acting was absolutely first-rate, without a shadow of a doubt: I can't think of any weak characters, and some of them were simply outstanding: Charles Stringham descending into alcoholism and reborn, but completely destroyed in the process; Widmerpool, played, I think, by the same actor all the way through the series, and always more or less ridiculous; Pamela Widmerpool, played by Miranda Richardson, having some marvelous lines as she turns one male head after another; and then gentle Nick Jenkins, who appears to be the only sane person in the whole mad world.
There's lots in the books that couldn't possibly find their way onto the TV, but it was splendid to see so much of it brought to life. I found it a very enjoyable 6 or 7 hours viewing. Highly recommended for any Powell aficionado, or anyone looking for something a bit out of the way.
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Format: VHS Tape
This is Powell made wonderful on screen!
"A Dance to the Music of Time" is widely regarded as a well-crafted sequence of 12 novels. On this video there is Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter: the journey of colleagues, friends and acquaintances through the rapidly changing 20th Century. This is no quaint, shallow portrayal of 'four friends have mixed lives and then get back together and reminisce' or any such formulaic narrative.
Like Poussin's painting, the story follows figures which entwine, cut loose, and meet again. The characters are all very well-drawn and excellently portrayed in this wonderful Channel 4 production. Mostly, the same actors play their characters from the beginning of the 20th Century to 1960s. However, a couple do not, and although this may seem strange at first, the characterisation shines through. Simon Russell Beale plays the incomparable Widmerpool throughout the production: he is utterly amazing.
In short, this video shows a highly enjoyable, amusing, wry and touching story whether or not you have read (some or all of) the novels. Powell's prose can be delicious and detailed and very little of that quality is lost in the lavish, but not too polished, production. A great cast (including James Purefoy, Jonathan Cake, Paul Rhys, James Fox and Zoe Wanamaker) [apologies for any spelling mistakes] involved with a largely engaging story. Powell's grasp of the 1950s/60s might be less than usual, but nevertheless one cannot help but be drawn into the entire story.
If you've read the novels - you won't be disappointed!
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By A Customer on 30 Jan. 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Any attempt to do more than summarise the characters and multi-layered plots in the twelve books that make up A Dance to the Music of Time is bound to fail, but this Channel 4 production is an extremely honourable failure. The four films are glued together by the performance of Simon Russell Beale playing the monstrous Widmerpool, and the atmosphere shifts successfully from the stifling atmosphere of Eton, through the gaity of the twenties, the austerities of the wartime years, and the bleakness and exhaustion of the post-war years.
If you know and love the novel sequence there are times at which you feel the film makers have taken some liberties, sliding over too quickly, or even omitting favourite passages, but this is a necessity to keep the running time to an acceptable 415 minutes.
Apart from Beale's magnificent portrayal of Kenneth Widmerpool, enjoy Edward Fox's wonderfully seedy portrayal of Uncle Giles, and Alan Bennett's Sillery. I'm afraid I've forgotten the name of the actor who plays the tragic Charles Stringham, but he nails the character to a perfection.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am a Powell nut; I re-read the books every couple of years, because I am a writer, and Powell my master. I re-read the sequence everytime I am embarking on a new book, or if, as at present, I get stuck. Having just finished the books (again), I thought I'd try this DVD. I remember watching the series when it was broadcast, and on watching it again, my opinion is unchanged; it doesn't make much sense if you haven't read the books. But if you have, there are real treats; Geilgiud as St John Clarke, Alan Bennett as Sillery, Michael Williams playing Ted Jeavons to a T, Miranda Richardson as a rather brilliant Pamela; and of course, Simon Russel Beale's monstrous Widmerpool. Most of the dialogue is lifted from the books, so it can be laugh aloud funny. But there is no time for characterisation, many of the characters have been cut (Barnby, Frederica and Dicky Umfraville etc), and some characters appear on screen for such a short period of time that it is impossible to care; Robert Tolland's death, for example, or Maclintick's suicide, both would have made me shrug my shoulders if I hadn't known who the characters were. But I must say my eyes moistened at the deaths of Lady Molly and Moreland. But that was because I cared for them as characters in the book. So, read the books, and then watch this in the realisation that they are really unfilmable, and that this is the closest anyone will get.
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Format: DVD
This is a fantastic production, much overlooked in the past few years. There is only one problem with it, for people unfamiliar with the books:the actors change. Thus the part of Jenkins, the narrator, is played bythree actors as he moves through Eton, WWII and old age. It isparticularly confusing in the first episode, where you've barely had timeto get acquainted with the schoolboy characters before they are into their20s and suddenly played by another actor. If you hadn't been playingclose attention to the names, this switch can make it difficult to matchthe first-phase actor with the second-phase actor.
To my mind, it is largely because we have very few actor switches in FilmsTwo and Three that those two are the most excellent of an altogetheroutstanding series.
But there is one character who is played by the same actor throughout --all the way from film one to film four -- and that is the magnificentSimon Russell-Beale. He should have been showered with BAFTAs for hisacting here. Widmerpool is such an awful character, yet many of us haveknow similar people in our lives. He really deserves the utterly selfishPamela, played by the scene-stealing Miranda Richardson, who marries himdespite everything.
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