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Country Matters (1972)

Ian McKellan , Peter Firth , Barry Davis , John Mackenzie  |  Unrated |  DVD
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ian McKellan, Peter Firth, Joss Ackland, Pauline Collins, Trevor Bannister
  • Directors: Barry Davis, John Mackenzie, Richard Martin
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Koch Vision
  • DVD Release Date: April 1, 2008
  • Run Time: 411 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00124SNJS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #203,571 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Country Matters" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Product Description

One of the most widely acclaimed drama series television has ever produced, these adaptations of short stories by A.E. Coppard and H.E. Bates present provocative and heartwarming tales set against the vast English countryside during the post-World War I period. Featuring stunning locations and star-studded casts that include Ian McKellen, Peter Firth, Pauline Collins, Rosalind Ayres and Prunella Scales, these eight lavish dramas reveal the timeless and constant qualities of the British landscape and its people.

2 DVD set includes:
Craven Arms - The Mill - The Sullens Sisters - The Watercress Girl
The Little Farm - The Black Dog - The Higgler - The Ring of Truth

Based on short stories by A.E. Coppard and H.E. Bates, this Country Matters collection includes eight of the 50-minute episodes that helped form Masterpiece Theater's hybrid theater/television identity as go-to programming for understanding Great Britain. Country Matters portrays mostly tragic romance, set in rural England just after the first World War. Each episode provides accurate and fascinating costume and set design to illustrate the class differences, living habits, and manners of Brits in various regions, giving viewers a deeper knowledge of the culture clash that has occurred within this tradition-bound society. "Craven Arms" stars Ian McKellen as David, a figure-drawing teacher in love with three of his beauteous students, Kate, Nancy, and Julia. Suffering from what he calls his lack of "constancy," David's inability to commit takes him nowhere except on a lonely journey. Alice in "The Mill," a 17-year-old ditched by her parents to earn her keep on a nearby farm, also suffers through lonely sexual exploration. The first disc, also including "The Sullen Sisters" about two sisters, Lindy and Rachel, feuding over Tommy, an extremely young boy, offers little in the way of cheerful love.

"The Little Farm" on disc two provides the first glimpse of short-term romantic success, as Edna Johnson (Barbara Ewing) moves onto Tom Richards' (Brian Marshall) farm, transforming his veritable pigsty with her woman's touch. "The Higgler" also hints at fleeting emotional uplift as higgler, Harvey (Keith Krinkel) is invited to befriend an educated lady, Mary (Sheila Rusgrove). Each story unravels slowly, quietly, and in dark rooms oft lit by lantern to show what life's pace used to be. While some episodes are more riveting than others, slight action is well compensated for by meticulous script and acting. Like the best in British drama, these short story adaptations rely on dialogue to enliven characters rather than showy special effects or bawdy sex. Country Matters certainly opens a window into the past, which feels like respite from today's cinematic overload. --Trinie Dalton

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thomas Hardy-esque September 9, 2008
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Despite the term "heartwarming" in the descriptive copy on the back of the "Country Matters" DVD case, most of the episodes are reminiscent of Thomas Hardy. They are slow, brooding, and mostly focus on rural life as it really was for the poorer classes: Isolated locations; dark, dirty cottages; bare economic survival; few acquaintances; poor verbal communication; and extremely limited options in life. In most episodes, the central character is offered one chance at a better life, usually economic improvement and/or love and/or escape from a bad family. And usually, fails to get it due to either poor choices or bad luck, and then is made to realize how dreary things will be for the rest of his or her life. It's a good series, but don't watch more than one or two episodes in an evening if you want cheerful dreams.

The rural locations are beautiful, the costumes are pretty good, the acting is excellent, in short the production values of this series are high. Except--and it's a big except--for the music. British folk music would have accented the series extremely well. Instead, the music for every single episode consists of a little-varied, much-repeated, rinky-dinky, incongruously upbeat, rather electronic tune which, if memory serves, is also the theme for the BBC "Lovejoy" detective series. If BBC couldn't shell out enough for decent music at the time the series was filmed, they ought to have done it before issuing this DVD.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Common Mistake June 4, 2009
Can I please correct the error that several reviews here have made. Country Matters was NOT made by the BBC, but by Granada Television. American viewers often make the mistake of thinking that all Masterpiece Theater presentations come from the BBC. They do not.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Country Matters March 1, 2009
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Th first story was a little slow, but on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed the DVD
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Jeremy Brett episode MISSING from this collection May 12, 2012
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I had seen this collection included in several lists of Jeremy Brett's TV films (including Amazon's). I ordered it only to find that Brett's episode, "An Aspidistra in Babylon," was not included. Beware! Only eight of the original 13 episodes are in this set. My request for a refund was accepted, but I note the collection is still listed on Amazon under Jeremy Brett's films.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mill: one gem in a ton of overburden May 25, 2009
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The Mill is the one gem in the collection, and what a rare gem it is. One hour of movie-making brilliance.
A rough promise carefully sifted from the human sands; separated; graded; properly dopped; beautifully faceted, polished and set.
It is one of the most psychologically brutal pieces ever filmed. Its immediate after-taste left me ashamed of my culture, gender and biological family. This gustatory sensation lingers still, after one viewing and the lapse of some 36+ years.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Koch Vision and BBC presents "COUNTRY MATTERS" (1972) (411 mins/Color) (Dolby Digital) --- Country Matters was an anthology of H. E Bates and A. E. Coppard adaptations that aired on Masterpiece Theatre throughout the '70s, and the dramatizations are of the Masterpiece cliché, including starched acting, longing glances, endless rain --- The DVD collects eight randomly selected episodes from both seasons --- Stories are so sparse that sometimes a single sentence can give away the entire hour, but they all boil down to the same plot --- Boy meets girl, romance ensues, things end badly but this was BBC television at its finest in the early '70s.

Under the production staff of:
Donald McWhinnie - Director
Barry Davis - Director
John McKenzie - Director
Richard Martin - Director
Silvio Narizzano - Director
Derek Granger - Producer
A.E. Coppoard - Writer
H.E. Bates - Writer
Hugh Leonard - Adapted
James Saunders - Adapted
Julian Mitchell - Adapted

"COUNTRY MATTERS" (1972) - Season, Episode and Original Date Aired:
Season 1, Episode 1: Craven Arms (Original Air Date: 20 August 1972)
Season 1, Episode 2: The Mill (Original Air Date: 27 August 1972)
Season 1, Episode 3: The Sullens Sisters (Original Air Date: 3 September 1972)
Season 1, Episode 5: The Watercress Girl (Original Air Date: 17 September 1972)

Season 2, Episode 1: The Little Farm (Original Air Date: 28 January 1973)
Season 2, Episode 2: The Black Dog (Original Air Date: 4 February 1973)
Season 2, Episode 3: The Higgler (Original Air Date: 11 February 1973)
Season 2, Episode 6: The Ring of Truth (Original Air Date: 4 March 1973)

the cast includes:
Ian McKellen ...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best things ever put on television February 6, 2014
These dramatizations of short stories by British writers A. E. Coppard and H. E. Bates, dealing with love affairs set in the English countryside just after WW I, display excellent direction, meticulous and convincing period setting, and an almost astonishingly high level of acting in every role, major and minor, from beginning to end. Their view of life is a tragically bleak one -- don't come to them for the sort of heartwarming family stories you might have been prepared for by something like Lark Rise to Candleford -- but they do have what I consider the mark of great cinema: their impact on you is almost more like something in real life. The series abounds in the sort of unforgettable moments that great film can leave you with: for instance, the long closeup of the face of the placid, innocent ruined girl at the end of The Mill is something Thomas Hardy couldn't have bettered. The Koch Vision DVD is a good transfer, but since the series comes from the early 1970s, the image isn't as clear as we've gotten to expect from quality television shows.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A+A+A+ Thanks!!!
Published 2 months ago by Richard
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 3 months ago by MICHAEL LOWSLEY-WILLIAMS
5.0 out of 5 stars County Matters - Refreshing!
Country Matters - A two DVD set containing 8 short stories (50 min each) from post WWI. The stories are quite believable which is very refreshing in these days when all that... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Roger Benson
5.0 out of 5 stars disgruntled brit!
what is this doing as a region 1 dvd, the only format avalible to the british public? country matters is a british made series and so should be avalible to the british public first... Read more
Published on September 12, 2012 by gazza
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful
Don't waste your money on this one. I've never been so disappointed with a BBC drama. You watch these vignettes and end up scratching your head wondering what the point of the... Read more
Published on December 8, 2011 by lover of bbc drama
2.0 out of 5 stars Slow, ploding and sad
These were a bit of a disappointment. The costumes and scenery are great, but the stories are so sad. I yearned for a happy ending. I guess there weren't any in those days.
Published on March 29, 2011 by W. Todd
1.0 out of 5 stars May the Lord forgive me for the time I'll never get back....
Country Matters is a series of ill-conceived, colorless stories that contribute nothing to human beings understanding themselves or life in general. Read more
Published on October 10, 2009 by Amy Smith
1.0 out of 5 stars country matters
This movie is advertised as being a series of uplifiting stories about rural country life in old England. I felt mislead. This movie is anything but uplifitng. Read more
Published on October 11, 2008 by love God
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