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Angels & Insects [VHS]

82 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Mark Rylance, Kristin Scott Thomas, Patsy Kensit, Jeremy Kemp, Douglas Henshall
  • Directors: Philip Haas
  • Writers: Philip Haas, Belinda Haas, A.S. Byatt
  • Producers: Belinda Haas, Joyce Herlihy, Kerry Orent, Lindsay Law
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Digital Video Transfer, NTSC
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Orion
  • VHS Release Date: August 18, 1998
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0792899342
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,928 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Mark Rylance, Kristin Scott Thomas and Patsy Kensit star in this "mesmerizing" (The New York Times) story of a scientist who marries the woman of his dreamsonly to find himself entangled ina nightmarish web of dark intrigue and shocking secrets! With stunning performances and breathtaking visuals, Angels and Insects is "tantalizing, hypnotic and seething with sexuality" (Playboy). Taken in by a wealthy family after a failed expedition to the Amazon, biologist William Adamson (Rylance) wins the hand of his benefactor's daughter (Kensit) and believes his dreamsof fame and fortune may finally come true. But a servant (Thomas) has secret knowledge about his new family, and his visions of grandeur tarnish in light of an erotic decadence and illicit passion beyond his darkest fears.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 62 people found the following review helpful By lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 10, 2000
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This is a stunning period piece, awash with lush scenery and extravagantly beautiful costumes. It is also marvelously acted by all with virtuoso performances by Mark Rylance and Kristin Scott Thomas. The cinematography is breathtaking, and the movie could be characterized as a masterpiece. It is simply a cinematic gem.

The storyline revolves about an impoverished naturalist (Mark Rylance) who returns from the far reaches of the Amazon to England. Having lost his life's work in a shipwreck that he survived, he is taken in by the patriarch of a wealthy, upper class family. In return, he helps his benefactor catalog his eclectic nature collection.

The naturalist, a sensitive, intelligent, and kind individual, falls in love with one of his benefactor's daughters, the mysterious Eugenia, played to perfection by the beautiful and talented Patsy Kensit. He is, however, despised and mistreated by her boorish brother, ostensibly because of his low birth.

After the marriage, he begins an intense study of an ant colony, with the assistance of a poor relation of his benefactor. This poor relation is an intelligent, articulate, and well-educated woman (Kristin Scott Thomas). It is plain to the viewer that she, and not her wealthy and beautiful cousin Eugenia, is the one whom the naturalist should have married.

Meanwhile, there is clearly a deep, dark secret within the household. It becomes apparent early on what the secret must be. It is revealed several years into the marriage in a shockingly dramatic fashion, causing the forbearing naturalist to have the veil lifted from his eyes. This in turn acts as the catalyst for the poor relation to reveal her own secret passion.

This is a magnificent film that should not be missed by those who love period pieces and award caliber performances.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By C. Collins on December 15, 2004
Format: DVD
I strongly recommend this odd but fascinating film. The story is full of strange twists; the images are beautiful, the acting is superb, and A. S. Byatt's underlying message is disturbing.

We all know Victorian England was full of sexual repression and hidden obsessions but this film reveals just how pathological sexual secrets can become.

The story is that of a young working class entymologist whose research is supported by Sir Harald Alabaster. William Anderson, the insect specialist, discovers a beautiful moth in the Amazon and brings it back to England for Sir Harald, naming it after his beautiful eldest daughter, Eugenia. Sir Harald's wife is a rotund mountain of fat, producing children while being served hand and foot by servants, as if she were a giant termite queen. William falls for Eugenia, against all odds marries her, and then becomes part of a strange sexual pattern with his wife where he is invited into her bedroom for a night of wild sex, followed by her separation from him during her pregnancy. He is not usually invited back again except in this cycle of one-night-stand,pregnancy, new birth, and then one-night-stand. William's children and the younger children of Sir Harald have a nanny, Maddy, played superbly by Kristin Scott Thomas. Eventually William comes to understand the secret behind his wife's sexuality and through the support of Maddy, is able to divorce himself from the Alabaster household.

What is A.S. Byatt telling us? I think the film is telling us that as social creatures, we organize our work and society much like bee hives or ant mounds, full of hierarchy and division of labor and every opportunity for reflective thinking to be drowned out and for pathology to survive unchallenged.

Wierd and beautiful is hte best way to summarize this film.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 28, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
When a husband declares, "We're going to be so happy," to his new bride early on in any movie, it doesn't take Jeane Dixon to know there's trouble ahead. And trouble there is for this pair, an impoverished naturalist (Rylance), just returned to Victorian England after years spent up the Amazon studying insects, and his high-strung, aristocratic wife (Kensit).
A tale of sexual passion and perfidy, Angels is a handsome costume drama based on A.S. Byatt's 1992 novel Morpho Eugenia. The naturalist, who is living off the generosity of a rich nobleman while cataloging the older man's insect collection, falls in love with and marries the man's daughter.
Rylance soon finds himself studying at close range some two-legged specimens far nastier than any to be found among his beloved creepy crawlers. His new wife and her boorish brother (Henshall) harbor a Big Secret, one that most viewers will guess early on, but it takes Rylance several years (and nearly the entire film) to figure it out.
The film's standout performance comes from Thomas (Four Weddings and a Funeral), who plays a poor relation of the rich family. Looking like a young Margaret Hamilton, she's the one who smartly sees Rylance for the true gentleman that he is and sets her bonnet for him.
Steamy, sexy, and strangely satisfying.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Luke D Jasenosky on October 17, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
"Angels and Insects" presents the stifling malaise in which the rich spent their days in Victorian England with a crisp lens, yet also provides viewers with two extremely sympathetic and truly interesting characters - Mark Rylance's William and Kristin Scott Thomas's Matty. William is a good, decent man who lets passion overcome the reason he has honed for his entire scientific life and lead him into an ill-advised, somewhat primeval marriage to the radiant, yet hollow Eugenia). His only escape is his work, and in this work he is joined by the perfect woman for him (the film does a great job of employing the complex scientific discoveries in a number of scenes). Rylance is very good - his William maintains a quiet dignity in the most compromising scenes and his actions always ring true. Scott-Thomas is fantastic - her Matty is one of the strongest, most complex female characters I've seen in recent films. She is William's quasi-protector and a scholar of the highest quality, yet her self-doubt and love for William are always apparent, and even in her penultimate scene with William, as she almost begs for him to accept her as his research companion, she never seems weak or desperate. The shock near the end of the film is handled deftly and with gentleness, although the metaphorical sequences leading up to it grow a little tiresome. This is a fascinating, curious film with two remarkable characters at its center.
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