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England, My England: The Story of Henry Purcell [DVD] [2011]

4.0 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Simon Callow, Michael Ball, Corin Redgrave
  • Directors: Tony Palmer
  • Format: Classical, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Italian, Spanish, German, English
  • Dubbed: 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: 12
  • Studio: NVC Arts
  • DVD Release Date: 3 July 2007
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000SKKCN2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 160,009 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Michael Ball stars as Henry Purcell, in this history of the composer's life and works, written by John Osborne and Charles Wood. Simon Callow also features as King Charles.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It is something of a cliche to label productions 'timeless' but one of the brilliant aspects of Palmer's biopic of Henry Purcell (produced for television in 1995) is that the observations on the English condition contained in Osborne and Wood's script fully retain their resonance and relevance nearly twenty years after the film was made. Bankers certainly weren't the product of Cromwell's time, as Clarendon (John Fortune) ruefully observes, but blaming the previous administration is as old as the hills and bankers remain as unpopular today as they were for Charles II. The mob still burns flags and effigies, the wealthy and powerful continue to 'put it around', the exchequer is still empty, and we still have Purcell's legacy to remind us that it is not simply the base which persists in our national history but also the sublime. The use of an imaginary 1960s production of Shaw's 'In Good King Charles's' Golden Days' at the Royal Court provides the central conceit around which the film's examination of the life and times of Purcell unfolds. Simon Callow plays Charles, and the playwright/actor seeking to portray Charles and Purcell, from the heart, and the play's observations on class, tolerance, censorship, art, money, religion, sex, fun, music and joie de vivre, say a great deal about the perils and pitfalls of the English experience. It is through the modern actor's investigation of Purcell that the historical detail of the period is revealed, relieving the historical drama of the burden of such explanation. Dryden, a splendid Robert Stephens in what must have been one of his last performances, provides the narrative in Purcell's time, while the whole film is carried along on the sumptuous music of Henry Purcell, who forms the by no means exclusive focus of the whole enterprise.Read more ›
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Format: DVD
'England, My England' tells the story of our of our great composers and uses rich colours and settings to recreate the court of Charles II and his royal patron, Mary. It employs many of our leading actors, with Simon Callow as the mainstay, and singers; some of whom, like Susan Graham, are now at the summit of their profession. The choice of Purcell's music to illustrate episodes in his life is well-judged and always apt, and there are many discoveries to be made: the quality of music in 'King Arthur', especially. I particularly liked the final touch of the Britten 'Young Person's Guide' finale, based on Purcell- a tribute to another of our great composers.

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.
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Format: VHS Tape
This is an historical film from the perspective of the greatest composer of the time, Henry Purcell. The acting is superb; the sense of the period is very strong; the music has been most effectively selected, and there's lots of it. There's also lots of personality and dramatic interest. I can see non-music types enjoying this film, though for music (especially Purcell!) enthusiasts it is a feast!
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Format: VHS Tape
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. Woe to those who love "operatic" Purcell. What a rich view of Purcell's life and times!!
I recommend this to everyone, but also to seasoned baroque music lovers who appreciate the scholarship in putting together such a film. Let us have more such delightful pieces of art!
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By KaleHawkwood TOP 100 REVIEWER on 31 Dec. 2013
Format: DVD
This phantasmagoric film on the short life and robust times of the great English composer Henry Purcell (called Harry throughout, as no doubt he would have been) is ridiculously successful, with a clutch of performances which work well despite the feeling that this must have been a logistical nightmare to make.
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?
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