- Actors: Jeremy Northam, Sam Neill, Bryan Brown, Peter O'Toole, Elizabeth Goram-Smith
- Directors: Toa Fraser
- Producers: Alan Harris, Matthew Metcalfe
- Format: DVD-Video, PAL
- Language: English
- Subtitles: English
- 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: 1
- Classification: U
- Studio: Icon Home Entertainment
- DVD Release Date: 27 April 2009
- Run Time: 100 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
- ASIN: B001Q94TRO
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,455 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Dean Spanley [DVD]
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Comedy drama starring Peter O'Toole, set in Edwardian England. Since the death of his younger son in the Boer War, Horatio Fisk (O'Toole) has aged into a bitter and curmudgeonly misanthrope, distanced even from his good-natured older son, Henslowe (Jeremy Northam), who visits him weekly. To relieve the tedium of their regular outings, the pair decide to attend a lecture on the Transmigration of Souls delivered by a visiting Hindu Swami. There, they meet the eccentric and mysterious Dean Spanley (Sam Neill), with whom Fisk Jr strikes up a bizarre friendship following a series of chance meetings. Henslowe tempts the Dean to dinner with promises of a rare Hungarian Tokay wine, which he must then go to great lengths to procure, his quest leading him to resourceful rogue trader Wrather (Bryan Brown). From these unlikely encounters, a sequence of events conspire to unlock the heart of the stiff-upper-lipped Fisk Sr, and reveal the emotional truths buried in his past.
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Top Customer Reviews
Dean Spanley is based on a short story by Lord Dunsany and as with most short stories, the plot turns on circumstances which create a single but profound change -in this case, in the inner life of a character. We are not used to this kind of plot structure in the cinema - but, here at least, it works beautifully.
Peter O'Toole is magnificent. His watery eyes and far-off look are perfect for the role and dominate the screen whenever he is in shot. His eccentric and walled-up character is wholly convincing, touching and entertaining. Sam Neil, Jeremy Northam and the rest of the cast are excellent too.
I guess if you demand plenty of action or complex plot lines, this film will not appeal. If, on the other hand, you like quirky, off-beat themes or films which allow a personal drama to quietly unfold, then go for it. I loved it.
Peter O'Toole plays the elderly English gentleman Horatio Fisk - who is visited every Thursday by his punctual son (Jeremy Northam). Set in affluent Edwardian London, their meets are convivial rather than warm - and of late - increasingly spiked. Fisk Junior feels dutiful rather than loving towards his 'near-to-the-end' Dad - and their tit-for-tat word battles and mind games are eating him up. Something has distanced them - and worse - turned his father into a boor - a man who you suspect was once very kind, but now isn't.
Fisk Junior longs of course for a real father and son relationship - free of the bickering and incessant quips - but more than that - he longs for his father to get to the core of the problem - open up and talk about his other son's loss in the recent Boer war. The no-nonsense housekeeper Mrs. Brimley (played so subtly by Judy Parfitt) hardly knows what to say or do anymore - and just stoically gets on with it - real talking just isn't done in educated circles...
By chance into the equation comes the equally awkward and stuffy man of the cloth Dean Spanley - played beautifully by Sam Neill (easily his most difficult and wordy role to date). The Dean seems odd - even a bit nutty - and may or may not harbour dangerous views about reincarnation for a man of a very fixed religion.Read more ›
It's the kind of film that doesn't offer many surprises - you know that the old boy's emotional floodgates will open by the end and that everyone will become a little bit better from their experience - but the pleasures far outweigh the film's problems, which, sadly, are many. Genuinely charming and affecting as Sharp's dialogue-led script is, it takes forever to get to the heart of the matter, but more worrying are the technical problems. Unfortunately it really is atrociously digitally photographed, the DVD transfer doing nothing to help the flat, lifeless and coldly underlit feel of the film because there's so little detail to work with.Read more ›
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An unexpected wonderful film.
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