- Actors: Alan Rickman, Amanda Ooms, Peter Dvorsky, Donal Donnelly, Anna Thalbach
- Directors: Roger Spottiswoode
- Writers: Dennis Potter
- Producers: Alexander von Eschwege, Andras Hamori, David E. Jones, Herbert Reutterer, Ingrid Windisch
- 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: 1
- Classification: 15
- Studio: 2entertain
- DVD Release Date: 29 Jan. 2007
- Run Time: 101 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
- ASIN: B000HEZ7Q6
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 85,362 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Mesmer [DVD] 
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Screenwriter Dennis Potter and director Roger Spottiswoode collaborate on this biopic about the eighteenth century Viennese physician, Franz Anton Mesmer (played by Alan Rickman), who used unorthodox healing practices based on his theory of 'animal magnetism'. Mesmer's theories were revolutionary, but he was reviled by his contemporaries. Rickman won Best Actor award at the Montreal Film Festival. Music by Michael Nyman.
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Top customer reviews
Alan Rickman, who is always at his best when playing characters who are slightly contradictory and ambiguous, is excellent in the title role. Dennis Potter's screenplay never really comes to any judgement on Mesmer's abilities or character, leaving the audience to make up their own mind. What is clear throughout is that Mesmer doesn't much care what anybody else thinks of him, and that this alone in polite 18th century society was perhaps enough to turn his peers against him. Ironically, the polite society into which Mesmer's unhappy marriage to a vile widow has elevated him (Mesmer's father was a gamekeeper) conceals an unpleasant underbelly of cruelty and abuse, as is made clear by the relationship between Mesmer's blind patient and her hypocritical father, and by the hard-to-watch scenes in which Mesmer's stepson attempts to rape his mentally ill cousin. Franz Anton Mesmer himself is an intriguing blend of innocence and cunning, a man of genuine visionary spirit but whose vision is ultimately flawed, capable of great sensitivity but also of conceit.
The supporting cast are also impressive, although the film does fall into the costume drama trap of extras made up of slightly unconvincing grubby-looking peasants with a range of deformities. There are a couple of scenes which don't quite work for me (hence four stars instead of five), one of which is unfortunately a key scene at the very start of the film. But overall, this is an interesting and, like all Dennis Potter's work, slightly unsettling film with a strong cast and sensitive direction.
The story is supposed to be interesting and Rickman did a great job in playing the complex character of Mesmer... BUT something went wrong.. The plot is dull... the character development is so limited besides the short runtime. Those "group therapy" sessions looked just ridiculous... LOL!
I also believe Mesmer should have talked more about his revolutionary theories.
I regret purchasing this film...
Mr. Rickman certainly looks the part (let's face it, no one else can wear a cloak and look as tantilisingly mysterious as well as he) but, sadly, he seems to be acting in a different movie to his co-stars who mostly appear to be taking things far less seriously. No doubt intended to give an insight into the work and mind of Franz Anton Mesmer (clearly a 'New Age Healer' ahead of his time), and to show the hypnotic, sensual nature of his treatment and his personal disgust at the medical profession's treatment of patients (we could do with the man now), it sadly fails on almost every count. The portrayal at times is of such ridiculous behaviour (presumably intended to be sensually erotic) as to almost render this film worthy of the comedy genre; certainly some scenes are so over-the-top that they could, if one wasn't trying to be generous-spirited, become laugh-out-loud moments. And, considering the sensitive nature of many of Mesmer's patients' troubles, makes it even more disturbing. It certainly seems to be a film that lost its way, possibly much the same as its 'star' must have done in ever agreeing to do it.
Probably only best viewed by true 'Rickmaniacs' (Alan Rickman fans that is - of which I most definitely count myself), it does this great actor no favours and will, I fear, unfortunately be relegated to join the ranks of films that simply didn't make it. And I stand by that last statement, despite it somehow managing to win various awards at that year's Montreal Film Festival (including Best Actor - bless him, he certainly tried hard enough - for Alan Rickman himself.) I can only assume it was a lean year.