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Age of Innocence [VHS]

4.2 out of 5 stars 342 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder, Linda Faye Farkas, Michael Rees Davis
  • Directors: Martin Scorsese
  • Writers: Martin Scorsese, Edith Wharton, Jay Cocks
  • Producers: Barbara De Fina, Bruce S. Pustin, Joseph P. Reidy
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home E
  • VHS Release Date: March 9, 1994
  • Run Time: 139 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (342 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6303026206
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,532 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Martin Scorsese does not sound like the logical choice to direct an adaptation of Edith Wharton's novel about manners and morals in New York society in the 1870s. But these are mean streets, too, and the psychological violence inflicted between characters is at least as damaging as the physical violence perpetrated by Scorsese's usual gangsters. At the center of the tale is Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis), a somewhat diffident young man engaged to marry the very respectable May Welland (Winona Ryder). But Archer is distracted by May's cousin, the Countess Olenska (a radiant Michelle Pfeiffer), recently returned from Europe. As a married woman seeking a divorce, the countess is an embarrassment to all of New York society. But Archer is fascinated by her quick intelligence and worldly ways. Scorsese closely observes the tiny details of this world and this impossible situation; this is a movie in which the shift of someone's eyes can be as significant as the firing of a gun. The director's sense of color has never been keener, and his work with the actors is subtle. That's Joanne Woodward narrating, telling us only as much as we need to know--which is one reason why the climax comes as such a surprise.--Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Imagine living in a world where life is governed by intricate rituals; a world "balanced so precariously that its harmony [can] be shattered by a whisper" (Wharton); a world ruled by self-declared experts on form, propriety and family history - read: scandal -; where everything is labeled and yet, people are not; where in order not to disturb society's smooth surface nothing is ever expressed or even thought of directly, and where communication occurs almost exclusively by way of symbols, which are unknown to the outsider and, like any secret code, by their very encryption guarantee his or her permanent exclusion.

Such, in faithful imitation of Victorian England, was the society of late 19th century upper class New York. Into this society returns, after having grown up and lived all her adult life in Europe, American-born Countess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer), after leaving a cruel and uncaring husband. She already causes scandal by the mere manner of her return; but not knowing the secret rituals of the society she has entered, she quickly brings herself further into disrepute by receiving an unmarried man, by being seen in the company of a man only tolerated by virtue of his financial success and his marriage to the daughter of one of this society's most respected families, by arriving late to a dinner in which she has expressly been included to rectify a prior general snub, by leaving a drawing room conversation to instead join a gentleman sitting by himself - and worst of all, by openly contemplating divorce, which will most certainly open up a whole Pandora's box of "oddities" and "unpleasantness": the strongest terms ever used to express moral disapproval in this particular social context.
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By A Customer on May 18, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Martin Scorsese has made a reputation of conveying the essence of the human spirit through images of toughness and violence. On the surface, The Age of Innocence seems about as far removed from films like Raging Bull and Goodfellas as east is from west. But look a little closer and you'll see that this is most definitely a Scorsese film. For it's the characters, and rightly so, that have always been Scorsese's "means to the end." In this movie, it is the characters and the potent tension building among them that takes center stage. The Age of Innocence could be compared to a sumptuous and lavish banquet. Elmer Bernstein's score is powerful and moves along in perfect counterpoint to cinematographer Michael Ballhaus's visuals and their vivid colors--the crimsons and yellows of voluptuous roses, the flashes of red and white that mark transition scenes, the full-course gourmet meals. The costumes and set design are so perfect that it's not hard to believe one has travelled back in time to nineteenth-century New York City. The Age of Innocence is an adaptation of the 1921 Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Edith Wharton. Set in New York City in the 1870s, America is, at that time, every bit as Victorian as England ever was and even a hint of immorality can bring ruin to a family. Enter Countess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer) who has lived most of her life in Europe and is now attempting to escape from a disatrous marriage. Her first meeting with Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) is quiet and proper, yet smoulders with yet-to-be-spoken desires, for Archer is engaged to Ellen's cousin, May (Winona Ryder).Read more ›
Comment 63 of 64 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: VHS Tape
This 1993 film, directed by Martin Scorsese, brings the Edith Wharton novel to life. Here it is -- all the social comment and smoldering unrequited passions originally intended by the author. And now it's in living color with academy award winning costume design reflecting New York society in the 1870s.
Daniel-Day Lewis is cast as Newland Archer, the upper class young man in conflict between social convention and desire. Michelle Pfieffer plays the Countess Ellen Olenska, who has already defied convention by marrying a European and is further defying convention by leaving her husband and returning to New York. However, in spite of his attraction to the countess, Newland Archer marries the beautiful but seemingly simple May Welland, played by Wynona Ryder, whose outstanding performance won her an academy award nomination.
The film is woven together by the excellent off-screen narration by Joanne Woodward, reading excerpts from the book describing the nuances of social behavior and unspoken thoughts of the characters. The entire package comes across as a small masterpiece. I loved the book, but there is nothing like actually seeing the ballrooms, the gowns, the dinnerware and the food. There is nothing like seeing how very subtle gestures of a glance, a raised eyebrow or a change in tone of voice can have so much meaning. And there is one scene in which Newland Archer struggles with the buttons of the Countess's glove that captures an erotic sensuality in a very special way.
However, a book can be read over many days or weeks. It can be put down and thought about, the characters carried in the mind's eyes for a while. The subtleties and nuances have time to live with the reader. A film, however, must be watched all at once.
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The Victorian Trading Company Could Have Catered to This Film
I've tried purchasing from the Victorian Trading Company. Their customer service is absolutely terrible. I had a minor problem with my order and tried contacting them multiple times through email and over the phone to resolve it. I never was able to get a response over email, and they will... Read More
Jan 11, 2012 by a customer |  See all 4 posts
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