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Carl Davis - A Simple Man / Northern Ballet Theatre (1987)

Moira Shearer , Christopher Gable  |  NR |  DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Moira Shearer, Christopher Gable, Gillian Lynne, Albert Finney, Northern Ballet Theatre
  • Format: Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Alliance
  • DVD Release Date: April 19, 2005
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007PHAWY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #612,011 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Editorial Reviews

Simple Man (A)

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Charming and Moving Ballet May 1, 2005
Format:DVD
It is with great embarrassment that I admit I'd never heard of the subject of this narrative ballet, 'A Simple Man': the English painter L. S. Lowry. Laurence Stephen Lowry (1887-1976) is claimed by some to be the best-known English painter of the 20th century. In his paintings he depicted the industrial landscapes of the Midlands, with backgrounds of chimneys and industrial buildings before which crowds of drably dressed figures move in a state of isolation. Color is subdued and the naive elements lead one to believe that Lowry was himself naive, but closer inspection shows the masterful composition and tonal combinations he used. He was a native of Salford, a suburb of Manchester, and this ballet was commissioned in 1987 by that city to commemorate the centenary of his birth. This DVD is of that 1987 performance. It brought together the talents of choreographer Gillian Lynne, who choreographed 'Cats' and 'Phantom of the Opera,' and composer Carl Davis, a New Yorker long resident in England, who is best known for his work in TV and films and as the co-composer of Paul McCartney's 'Requiem.'

Best of all this performance by the Northern Ballet Theatre brings back two long-retired stars of the Royal Ballet as the main soloists: Moira Shearer, best known for her luminous performance in the movie 'The Red Shoes,' and Christopher Gable, possibly the best-known male dancer at the Royal Ballet until his retirement. He was 47 when this ballet was filmed and he has since died of cancer. The music is performed by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra under the composer.

The ballet is introduced by Albert Finney, himself a native of Salford.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive version of a unique work July 24, 2012
Format:DVD
This ballet, or dance drama as Gillian Lynne, prefers to call it, was a long-wished for collaboration between herself and the composer, Carl Davis. It came about as a result of a very open-ended commission form the BBC to `make something' (BBC quote) to celebrate L.S. Lowry's work for a television production celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth (1887-1976).

The talents of the Northern Ballet were combined with those of Christopher Gable and Moira Shearer who were persuaded to come out of dance retirement, and with a great deal of training in the particular dance/acting moves required `A Simple Man' became reality. Finally Albert Finney was engaged to provide an illustrated introduction - a choice based on his shared experience of growing up in Salford like Lowry.

The production takes the form of 8 scenes depicting stages in Lowry's life based upon the images and situations depicted in his paintings. An enormous amount of care was taken to achieve exactly the correct postures and gestures and it was this aspect that was the most challenging for the dancers who had to learn a whole range of new dance movements and styles.

All of this is explained in a totally fascinating 50 minute retrospective conversation between Gillian Lynne and Carl Davis as a bonus feature. The equally interesting 11 minute introduction by Albert Finney is also included. These two features add enormously to the appreciation of the ballet/dance drama.

The actual production and dancing fully justifies this immense care and is a very rewarding experience. The production went on to be a staple stage production featured in the Northern Ballet repertoire for years and Christopher Gable was engaged as their director in 1987 after the broadcast.
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