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Apt Pupil


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Product Details

  • Actors: Ian McKellen, Brad Renfro, Joshua Jackson, Mickey Cottrell, Michael Reid MacKay
  • Directors: Bryan Singer
  • Writers: Brandon Boyce, Stephen King
  • Producers: Bryan Singer, Don Murphy, Jane Hamsher, Jay Shapiro, John Ottman
  • 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 (177 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0767821599
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,735 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Apt Pupil" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Making-of featurette

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Ian McKellen and Brad Renfro star in a dark drama about a sixteen-year-old honor student who recognizes an old man living in his hometown as a hunted Nazi. Compelled to reveal the secrets of his death camp past to earn the boy's silence, the German fugitive derives a sinister scheme to implicate the teenager in a dangerous psychological game.

Amazon.com

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

Customer Reviews

I recommend this movie to anyone who reads Stephen King.
karl-5@raycounty.net
The tension builds up throughout the film, culminating in a very satisfying conclusion (although I still prefer King's original conclusion).
Daniel Jolley
You can't take a really long book and cram it all into a short little movie, you'll ruin it!
"speckibecki"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Rabbi Yonassan Gershom VINE VOICE on 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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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Dark Mechanicus JSG on October 18, 2005
Format: DVD
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 By R.Suarez VINE VOICE on July 16, 2005
Format: DVD
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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 4, 1999
Format: DVD
This much we all know about Stephen King: first is the fact that he turns out 900-page books every 2 or 3 days. The second is that some are made into movies - which, by and large, haven't all been that well received. Apt Pupil, on the other hand, falls into a different category. Based on one of King's novellas, this little story translates quite well onto the big screen - helped out by fine acting and inspired direction.
Todd Bowden (Brad Renfro) is a bright youth with a kinky mind who begins to suspect that a particularly heinous kind of evil resides in his white-bread suburban neighborhood. It turns out that one of the community's senior citizens, Kurt Dussander, is actually a Nazi war criminal. Instead of telling the authorities however, the boy decides to blackmail the old guy and, with Nuremberg-like zeal, he collects enough historic and forensic data to convince Dussander he knows his true identity. Then, perhaps motivated by an evil that lurks in his own heart, the kid proceeds to pump the ancient monster for detailed accounts of his atrocities.
The disturbing relationship between old man and boy is alone compelling enough to sustain our interest. But as the two begin to engage in a psychological dance of wills, we start to grasp that the stakes in this mind game may be higher than we first supposed. Our focus fixes on Todd, who, as the balance of power between the two shifts, realizes that the price of the knowledge he seeks may be his very soul.
Part of the film's chill is generated by director Bryan Singer's knack for showcasing a King trademark - the frightening juxtaposition of true evil with the seemingly prosaic quality of everyday life.
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