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Last King [DVD] [2003] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

4.2 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

Dispatched from and sold by M and N Media US.
£89.09 Only 1 left in stock - order soon. Dispatched from and sold by M and N Media US.

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Product details

  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: NR (Not Rated) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001KL5M6
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 557,905 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

From Amazon.co.uk

One of the better BBC costume dramas of recent years, 2003's Charles II: The Power and the Passion depends very strongly on its central performance. Fortunately, Rufus Sewell is admirable throughout as the saturnine, witty monarch who has retained popular fondness down the centuries in spite of his conscientious adherence to the bad and losing cause of absolute monarchy. Adrian Hodge's intelligent script dramatises the issue in quick sound bites--many politicians accepted the Restoration to avoid chaos and were determined to bring Charles to heel, whereas he was determined to defend the position for which his father had been martyred. If that meant handing the throne to his Catholic brother in default of a legitimate son of his own, so be it.

The four hour-long episodes cover the Restoration, the Plague and the Fire of London, the secret treaties with France and the Popish Plot, as well as giving us a fair bit of Charles's moderately happy marriage to Catherine (Shirley Henderson in the most hideously accurate historical hairdos ever) and his affairs with various mistresses. Among a number of fine supporting performances, Rupert Graves stands out as Buckingham, the friend who betrayed Charles. This sort of costume drama only ever works if the acting is as good as it is here.

On the DVD: Charles II on disc comes with a making-of documentary and a commentary on the first episode from writer Adrian Hodge and the director and producer. It also includes an extended documentary on Charles's back story--his education, his attempt to fight Cromwell's forces, his period on the run in England and his long exile--in which a number of eminent historians, including Richard Holmes and Ronald Hutton, talk about how he became the king he was. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By DebC on 10 April 2017
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Rufus Sewell and Rupert Graves are two of my favorites, and they didn't let me down. This is a bit more political than I had hoped for. Was looking to see more about all his affairs and children. Well, and Helen McCrory rocks the one mistress role of focus.
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All four long episodes of this classic BBC series are presented on two discs with a very extensive special feature section. Along with commentaries by Kate Harwood, Joe Wright, and Adrian Hodges,the Writers and Directors. There is a Documentary on the making of Charles II, and a more accurate historical Documentary, 'The Boy Who Would Be King'.
Rufus Sewell plays Charles II, tenaciously, and Rupert Graves, plays his impulsive close friend George, The Duke of Buckinghamshire, with whom he shared his exile in Belgium and France before being recalled by Parliament after the death of Oliver Cromwell.
Weaving through the intrigues between Catholics and Protetsants, king and Parliament, Dutchess Barbara Villiers manipulated Charles, and Helen McCrory recreates this fascinating sultry role with great panache.
As a contrast, bright cockney Actress Nell Gwynn out lasted most other Royal Mistresses, and Emma Pierson, brings this role to life excellently. Charles is reputed to have had at least 16 mistresses.

Shirley Henderson portrays his official wife, with an amazing wig from the fashions of the period, whith whom he eventually fell in love, Catherine of Braganza, from Portugal. It was at first a political marriage. Unfortunately their son was still born, and to protect them, and thwart Parliament, Charles would not name any of his children as heirs, but named his younger brother James as heir.
Christian Coulson plays his eldest son the Duke of Monmouth, who led an unsuccessful rebellion after Charles's death, and throughout most of the action, his old friend and advisor Sir Edward Hyde is played by Ian McDiarmid.
Diana Rigg has a small but powerful role as the Queen Mother.
The power and the conficting passion makes powerful viewing.
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I bought this set at a large discount, not having high hopes for it. My fears were justified to some extent, in that too much time is spent on bedroom trivia. This leaves too little time to do justice to all the historical events that are crammed in. The result is confusing, even if you already have a reasonable understanding of the period. There is no sense of the importance of each event, very little context or sense of time. The only relationship that is kept in full view, is that between the King and Lady Castlemaine. I found that to be dull, unrealistic and unimportant. Another mistress, Nell Gwyn gets several scenes, yet the bubonic plague that killed one quarter of London's population, is overlooked.

The casting does not help matters. Charles comes across as a man who is aloof and indiferrent, because of Sewell's poor acting. Sewell's little boy lost routine, may be endearing to his female fans, but it is inappropriate for King Charles II who was very much a man of action.

In the drama, much time is spent on Charles's insistence on having equality for Roman Catholics, but there is no clear explanation given as to why. In the extras, there is a full documentary about Charles's youth. Here we are given to believe that he was indebted to the crucial support given to his escape from England, by a network of Catholics. What is overlooked though is that by supporting religious freedom, he was allowing greater freedom for science and the arts. There is a moment in the drama where Charles does express an interest in science, but sadly that was not expanded on. Without the foundation of the Royal observatory, his patronage of the Royal Society and the religious exemption he granted Isaac Newton, the World would be a very different place today.
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I very much enjoyed this four-episode drama about Charles II life. I think a perfect balance was found between the private and political sphere of the king: both was portrayed excitingly and vividly depicting his personality both as man and king with strengths and weaknesses as well. The Restoration Age, as its king, is shown in detail with its splendour and decadence.

A superb cast is empolyed including Rufus Sewell, Rupert Graves and the excellent Shirley Henderson among others. The music is beautiful. A documentary film about Charles' childhood and adolescence can be found on the dvd as an extra which is also worth watching.
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not the original
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Format: DVD
Having just watched this DVD again, I've been capitvated anew by how good it is. Everything, from the music to the costumes to the acting, is magnificent. Rufus Sewell skillfully portrays the character of Charles II - cynical, witty, essentially good natured but determined not to go on his 'travels' again. The supporting cast are wonderful too, especially Shirley Henderson as Catherine of Braganza, Helen McCrory as Lady Castlemaine and Rupert Graves as the Duke of Buckingham. The spirit of Restoration times - that is, self indulgent pleasure seeking interspersed with religious mania - is captured beautifully.

I have a few little complaints to make. I feel that James, Charles's brother and eventual successor, is treated rather unfairly. Yes, James was very stubborn and not too intelligent, but in the drama he is constantly defying Charles and is often borderline disrespectful to him. As a believer in the Divine Right of Kings, James wouldn't have acted like that. Also, it would have been nice to see James's daughters, Mary and Anne, featured, or even his second wife, but I understand that time constraints probably made this unfeasible.

Diana Rigg puts in a good performance as Henrietta Maria, despite her English accent. There are some slight chronological inaccuracies however - for example, Charles's brother Henry was dead long before Catherine arrived in England. These are all minor points however, and are the only reason I'm giving 4 rather than 5 stars. It's a wonderful, exciting drama and is for the most part true to history.
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