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  1. #1
    Senior Member Country: England Maurice's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
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    Daily Telegraph's "DVD of the Week"

    Review by Rupert Christiansen:

    Attempts to translate opera into film date back to the birth of cinema and run into their thousands: ARIA, released in 1987, should rank as one of the most flamboyantly original and provocative.

    Nine directors - with a tenth, Bill Bryden, providing a linking trail between them - were given a budget of �50,000 and commissioned by producer Don Boyd to choose an extract from an opera and let their visual imaginations run wild over it.

    Boyd describes the result as "an operatic FANTASIA, without animation" and as classical music's first foray into MTV territory.

    Quality varies wildly, but that's part of the fun. The duds include Nicolas Roeg's plonking transplantation of Verdi's UN BALLO IN MASCHERA to Thirties Vienna, and creepy soft porn from Bruce Beresford in which the young Elizabeth Hurley goes nude to the slushy accompaniment of Korngold's DIE TOTE STADT.

    I'm in two minds about the cool but slick road movie which Franc Roddam weaves round Isolde's "Liebestod", but Charles Sturridge's grainy modern urban vision of Leonora's sublime prayer from LA FORZA DEL DESTINO is heart-rending.

    The formality of French court opera inpires two of the best sequences: Jean-Luc Godard counterpoints Lully's ARMIDE with the erotics of bodybuilding, and Robert Altman points the camera at an orgiastic 18-century audience driven crazy by Rameau's LES BOREADES.

    Ken Russell does something repellently tasteless with "Nessum dorma", Derek Jarman goes all sloppy over "Depuis le jour".

    What a pity that neither Welles nor Fellini lived to take part, as Boyd had planned.

    Radio Times Film Guide:

    This is the cinematic equivalent of the Three Tenors' concerts: hummable slices of opera, here interpreted visually by an eclectic selection of film directors.

    Understandably, it's an uneven affair but, although the true opera buff will be horrified, there are some little gems. The pick of the vignettes is Franc Roddam's take on the "Liebestod" from Wagner's TRISTAN UND ISOLDE, with Bridget Fonda (in her film debut) and James Mathers as a pair of beautiful, tragic lovers.

    Honourable mention, too, for Robert Altman's segment from LES BOREADES (with the camera focused entirely on an audience seemingly made up of inmates from an asylum) and Julien Temple's trashy and kitsh version of Verdi's RIGOLETTO.

    Cast includes: John Hurt, Sophie Ward, Theresa Russell, Jackson Kyle, Buck Henry, Peter Birch, Genevieve Page, Tilda Swinton.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Country: Aaland dremble wedge's Avatar
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    Sep 2007
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    Decidedly patchy, but I thought the Roddam and Temple efforts were the best.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Country: UK Freddy's Avatar
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    Jul 2004
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    Last edited by Freddy; 18-05-12 at 05:47 PM.

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