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Apt Pupil (1998)

Brad Renfro , Ian McKellen , Bryan Singer  |  R |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Brad Renfro, Ian McKellen, Joshua Jackson, Mickey Cottrell, Michael Reid MacKay
  • Directors: Bryan Singer
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: April 13, 1999
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0767821599
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,838 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Apt Pupil" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Making-of featurette

Editorial Reviews

At the top of his game, Stephen King has a real gift for mining monsters--zero-at-the-bone horror--out of everyday faces and places. Adapted from a novella in the 1982 collection that also spawned Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption, Apt Pupil looks at first as if it might draw authentically enlightening terror from the soul-cancer that makes blood relations of a Southern California golden boy (Brad Renfro) and an aging Nazi war criminal (Sir Ian McKellen). Turned on by a high-school course about the Holocaust, Todd Bowden (such a bland handle for this top-of-his-class sociopath!) tracks down Kurt Dussander, a former Gestapo killer hiding in the shadows of sunny SoCal. Blackmailing the old man into sharing his firsthand stories of genocide, the teenager trips out on the virtual reality of the monster's memories. There's perverse play here on the way a kid hungry for knowledge can bring a long-retired teacher or grandparent back to life. Truly superb as James Whale in Gods and Monsters, McKellen brings subtlety to this Stephen King creepshow: his dessicated Dussander is like a mummy or vampire revivified by Todd's appetite for atrocity.

Considerable talent intersects in Apt Pupil: It's director Bryan Singer's first film since The Usual Suspects, that enormously popular, rather heartless thriller-machine. The outstanding cast also includes David Schwimmer as a Jewish guidance counselor pathetically impotent in the face of Todd's talent for evil, and Bruce Davison as Todd's All-American Dad, lacking the capacity to even imagine evil. And the story itself has the potential for gazing into the heart of darkness right here in Hometown, U.S.A. But Apt Pupil just turns ugly and unclean when it trivializes its subject, equating Holocaust horrors with slamming a cat into an oven or offing a nosy vagrant (Elias Koteas). Reducing the great spiritual abyss that lies at the center of the 20th century to cheap slasher-movie thrills and chills is reprehensible. Both Todd and the writers of Apt Pupil should have heeded the old saw: When supping with the devil, best use a long spoon. --Kathleen Murphy

Product Description

A student studying the Holocaust recognizes an old man as Nazi war criminal in hiding and decides to introduce himself.
Genre: Feature Film-Drama
Rating: R
Release Date: 23-MAR-2004
Media Type: DVD

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
69 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When you dine with the devil, take a long spoon January 29, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
This movie quickly disappeared from the theaters, which is really too bad, because it's an excellent film. Those reviewers who disliked it because it didn't have enough "Stephen King" have missed the point. Good horror doesn't always depend on lots of supernatural gore. Sometimes the most frightening things are the terrible possibilities we find within ourselves -- if we dare to look. Much of this film consists of psychological games, but that doesn't make it any less terrifying. If you have ever wondered how ordinary good citizens (like yourself???) could have ended up serving the Nazi genocide machine, then this movie is a chillingly real answer. An excellent study in how seemingly moral people can be manipulated by fear and seduced by power.
What starts out as an honor student's curiousity about a dark chapter in history soon degenerates into cruelty and manipulation on both sides. The student begins by blackmailing an old Nazi war criminal into telling him all about the concentration camps -- and that means EVERYTHING -- or else he will turn him over to the authorities. The old Nazi, fearing arrest, complies. But the boy soon goes beyond curiousity, as he begins to enjoy having absolute power over another human being. At this point, the student is the sadist, and I actually found myself feeling sorry for the old man. But wait -- the Nazi still has a few tricks up his sleeve, and the tables are soon turned... To tell you more would be a spoiler. Just remember: when you dine with the devil, the spoon is never long enough.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quick Study October 18, 2005
Once upon a time many years ago, a fictional French baroness smirked as her paramour pronounced his undying devotion to his Lady Fair: his dedication to her, his wonderment in the face of her not inconsiderable charms. His---Love.

To which she replied, tartly: "Love---I don't like the word 'Love'. I prefer the word 'Cruelty'.

So do I. And so does the world, if the genocide raging through Africa is any kind of case in point. We live in a world where terrorists ram planes into skyscrapers because of grievances, and the question raised by our 'elites' is not "how do we destroy these barbarians", but rather a whining, sniveling "why do hey hate us?"?

Is not Cruelty, then, our due?

The real question is not why the Holocaust happened, but, in the words of Max von Sydow's artist in "Hannah and her Sisters", why it doesn't happen more often. "Apt Pupil" is one of the most harrowing, horrifying, repulsive films I have ever watched.

The blood doesn't flow like claret and the gore doesn't cake the walls, but a warning: "Apt Pupil" is not for the faint of heart.

That said, Singer has an exceedingly subtle touch with distills one of Stephen King's best short stories into an engaging and particularly nasty piece of cinema that bores deep into the fundamental cruelty that feeds and nourishes human evil.

Tod Bowden (played with understatement and sublime nastiness by Brad Renfro) is a high school student who discovers that an elderly German man---who might just be an infamous Nazi war criminal---is living in his quiet Southern California neighborhood.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterfully executed! July 16, 2005
Based on a Stephen King novel, `Apt pupil' directed by Brian Singer tells the story of a hunted Nazi who is identified by a sixteen year old student. The student rather than reporting to authorities his discovery, attempts to blackmail the old man: he won't tell anyone if he tells him stories from the dead camp he was in charge of.

This incredible thriller takes some surprising twists as the story unfolds. The acting is superb, Ian McKellen as Dussander (the Nazi fugitive) and Brad Renfro deliver some of the most disturbing sequences of the film, from the stories being told by McKellen (excellent flashback scenes) to the sequence in which he wears the Nazi uniform again, the performance delivered by these two actors is one of the highlights of the film.

A story of how evil may present in the less expected ways and how a teenager falls under the clutches of the Nazi killer he thought he had under control. The directorial style of Singer is all over the film, the score composed by John Ottman is the perfect complement in some of the key scenes. Some of Singer `regulars' are here on brief cameos and there is the special appearance of David Schwimmer (even though he tries to portray a serious character, the stigma of Ross Geller won't leave him) Bottom-line, an excellent thriller filled with surprising twists, excellent sequences from the Nazi's dead camps and a shocking ending.

The DVD comes in both Widescreen and Full screen versions. Special features in the DVD are a `making of' documentary, cast and bios and the theatrical trailer. English 5.1 and Dolby surround available with subtitles in English only.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
There are a few Stephen King adaptations that are good, though most missed the mark. I thought Bryan Singer's vision of "Apt Pupil" left in (and left out) everything that was approprate. I admire Ian McKellan no end, and he did not disappoint. I always thought that Brad Renfro's auspicious debut in "The Client" would lead to great things. Here, he succeeds. It's a layered performance of unsettling discovery, conflict & resolution...and a few surprises. Elias Koteas, in a small role, was best of all. His role as street person/hustler was complete, and I must admit that his final scene lef me a bit unsettled, very sad. I will not blab anyhing away, but I thought this to be a fine and very upsetting film. I'm somewhat amused at the controversy involving Singer's shower room scene, where he asked a number of young males to appear nude (they signed affidavits of approval). No one really cared, except one guy sued him for misreprentation or whatever. (How humiliating was that for him?) This was a 1998 film. Brian de Palma's "Carrie" with Oscar-nominee Sissy Spacek (1976) had a brutal shower scene, full-frontal, the whole 9 yards, and nobody made issue. Nudity doesn't bother me, if it makes sense. I don't understand the fuss.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars great acting and story line
One of Stephen Kings absolute best movies. Truly enjoy every time I watch it. Dark and surreal like a good flick should be.
Published 21 days ago by William Totten
5.0 out of 5 stars Good quality CD
I guess I shouldn rate the movie here. The CD is a good quality with the very good picture and sound.
Published 1 month ago by Jalis
5.0 out of 5 stars She loves it
I purchased this as a gift for my daughter. I know she will love. Actually I think she's had it B-4.
Published 2 months ago by Sherrill M. Meeks
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favs!
Not your normal Stephen King movie! This is one of my favorites by him though. I just purchased the book so I am looking forward to reading that since I loved the movie so much.
Published 2 months ago by Josh James
4.0 out of 5 stars poor frickin' stewbum...
shrewdly condensed and equally disturbing as the written work from which it was adapted. bravo. Old man Ian may otherwise only be known as Gandalf by the Generation X.
Published 5 months ago by matt kleinlein
5.0 out of 5 stars great
great movie that helps explain what children went through during the war and how they got through it. :) : )
Published 5 months ago by Kelly frantz
5.0 out of 5 stars Exteremly well written
I really liked this movie because I think its well written and it has Brad Renfro in it. I think he was a great actor. I wanted a copy for home viewing. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Paul
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing like the book
If I hadn't read the book first, I may not have gotten the point. The moving was vague compared to the book.
Published 7 months ago by Marie E VanNatten
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting but lacks punch:
Over all the movie has a good plot, but I found it to be lacking some what. The old Nazi is easy to understand - the young boy however seemed murky at best. Read more
Published 8 months ago by D. E. Barnes
5.0 out of 5 stars wow what can i say!?
this story was set in 1984. I would of been around 17 in 1984. I was always very interested in history of the second world war. this movie was written whith extreme realism. Read more
Published 9 months ago by mark a czup sr
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