Top Customer Reviews
Above all, Callow's film is an intelligent historical and social commentary on Purcell's world, and our apparently very different, world. The theme cutting across both is that of violence, lurking under the surface, and erupting at times into sectarianism and revolt: the film makes a direct link between the No Popery sectarianism that swept through England and the stridency of Ian Paisley and the Orange Order.
Callow comments also on the concept of English identity - part of Europe, but not part of it, unsure of its place, a 'hanger on'. My only slight reservation is the occasional tendency of Callow, playing the modern actor, to rant, rather than leaving us, his audience, to reach our own judgements.
Purcell the composer comes across as a beacon of English identity, writing music of genius that is neither French nor Italian (the competing factions at the time) but uniquely English. Yet even today only a handful of his works out of an enormous output, written in the same lifespan as Mozart's, are really well-known. This film goes some way towards rectifying this situation.
Simon Callow is pretty much flawless as both King Charles II and an actor of the 1960s writing a play about Purcell. I`ve rarely seen Callow so understated. How he must have loved the part(s) - having already played Handel, and now cornering the market in solo Dickens and Shakespeare.
Michael Ball is equally relaxed, and utterly credible, as Purcell. Not an actor I know very well, but I was most impressed. He and Callow have a lovely modern-dress scene at the end of this 150-minute film which is acted so natually it barely seems like acting at all.
The script is by the late playwrights John Osborne and Charles Wood, and it smacks bracingly of an Osbornian hatred of the Little England mentality he would relish railing against.
This works well in both its historical contexts, particularly since the pleasure loving Charles II was succeeded by his pathetic brother James, then the highly odd William, with his more likeable wife Mary, played here as a wonderfully vivacious, giggly lass by a young Rebecca Front. (Was Mary so mirthful?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I very much enjoyed this film, even if a number of scenes have been removed from the 1995 original. Read morePublished on 6 April 2011 by Joan H. Hammond
I think something has gone wrong with this order. You keep telling me there's a problem but I have received the item and as far as I can tell I've paid... Read more
The bad news: the somewhat irritating then-and-now intertwining (I found the modern scenes largely irrelevant, to be honest); some dubious character portrayals (was William III... Read morePublished on 2 Sept. 2010 by ampy1950
This is the 3rd Tony Palmer film I buy on DVD. The other two being "Puccini" and "God Rot in Tumbridge Wells' (Life of Handel). Both rotten! Read morePublished on 25 May 2009 by Edita Camm
I read the "A musical and visual treat" review given above and thought I would give this a go. I missed the minor comment about "modern". Be warned. Read morePublished on 29 Oct. 2008 by spud-the-mud
This film is outstanding. The acting is excellent, but mainly I am most impressed by the performances of Purcell's music on period instruments. The singing is divine. Read morePublished on 10 Dec. 2005 by Cynthia Greene