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Dean Spanley


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Product Details

  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0042U23A4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #243,302 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

This is a delightful and whimsical film that is also very moving.
E. Simpson
Anyone who is even remotely interested in what a dog's life is like will love this movie.
Oneheart
This movie is delightful - great acting, surprising tale, and quirky characters.
Peggy Oliver

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 65 people found the following review helpful By J. Stevens on April 2, 2011
Format: DVD
Watched as a fluke on Netflix. Unbelievable hidden gem. If I told you the plot line, you wouldn't watch it and you SHOULD watch. You will like this if you like dogs and dog stories. You will like it if you like stories set in Britain, if you like character studies, if you like renewal without melodrama, if you like stories about relationships, if you like mysteries, if you like listening to the English language work magic. You won't like it if you have to have big drama, big budgets, fast pace and special effects. This one really sneaks up on you and leaves you thinking. Probably not for the under 20 set, but won't hurt them to watch.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Mark Barry TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 6, 2009
Format: DVD
"Dean Spanley" is that rarity - a weird little film that you think is going to be absolute rubbish at first, but then twists and turns and delightfully works itself out. The script - based on the 1936 book by Lord Dunsany called "My Talks With Dean Spanley" - is adapted and expanded by top British writer Alan Sharp - and is about loss and reincarnation, but in a very strange roundabout kind of way...

Peter O'Toole plays the elderly English gentleman Horatio Fisk - who is visited every Thursday by his punctual son (Jeremy Northam). Set in affluent Edwardian London, their meets are convivial rather than warm - and of late - increasingly spiked. Fisk Junior feels dutiful rather than loving towards his 'near-to-the-end' Dad - and their tit-for-tat word battles and mind games are eating him up. Something has distanced them - and worse - turned his father into a boor - a man who you suspect was once very kind, but now isn't.

Fisk Junior longs of course for a real father and son relationship - free of the bickering and incessant quips - but more than that - he longs for his father to get to the core of the problem - open up and talk about his other son's loss in the recent Boer war. The no-nonsense housekeeper Mrs. Brimley (played so subtly by Judy Parfitt) hardly knows what to say or do anymore - and just stoically gets on with it - real talking just isn't done in educated circles...

By chance into the equation comes the equally awkward and stuffy man of the cloth Dean Spanley - played beautifully by Sam Neill (easily his most difficult and wordy role to date). The Dean seems odd - even a bit nutty - and may or may not harbour dangerous views about reincarnation for a man of a very fixed religion.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Linda Bulger VINE VOICE on October 3, 2009
Format: DVD
DEAN SPANLEY is a film with elements of drama, comedy and fantasy, a joint British-New Zealand production based on a 1936 novella by Lord Dunsany. It was directed by New Zealander Toa Fraser and stars Peter O'Toole, Jeremy Northam, Sam Neill, and Bryan Brown, with an original soundtrack by New Zealander Don McGlashan.

The story is worth summarizing: O'Toole plays the curmudgeonly Horatio Fisk, a widower who inflicts his foul moods on everyone near him. His son, Henslowe Fisk (Northam), bravely visits his father once a week. Desperate for something different to do with the impossible-to-please old man, Fisk Junior suggests a lecture about the transmigration of souls. At that event the Fisks meet Dean Spanley (Neill), a local churchman. Henslowe strikes up an association with the eccentric Spanley and discovers that the Dean has a passion for a rare Hungarian wine. While under its spell, the Dean reveals details of his previous incarnation -- as a dog.

How does this incredible story link to the elderly Fisk's youth? The tale plays out and the old man taps into the love and emotion of his younger life, breaking through his crusty defenses.

The film's setting in Edwardian England gives lots of scope for sombre but elegant costuming and moody night scenes--and eccentric characters. O'Toole, Northam and Neill are marvelous; the entire production is classy and mesmerizing. I was enchanted by this movie when I chose it from the menu on a trans-Pacific flight. It had successful pre-release showings at film festivals in Toronto, London and Korea, and it recently won Best Film and six other categories in the New Zealand Film and TV Awards.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By William Linden on March 24, 2011
Format: DVD
I would have said that "My Talks With Dean Spanley" was unfilmable (and admittedly, they had to recast the plot a bit to make this), but this production is completely delightful. One of the Seven Great Films of the year.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By DickNRal on February 7, 2011
Format: DVD
Well what a prize of a movie, Dean Spanley was! And produced by those Kiwi's down under (or at the true top of the world, as my dear friend Andy in Wellington would say). While plentifully punctuated with humorous witticisms and one liners, I would not classify the movie as first being a comedy. For me, it was instead, my absolutely favorite genre of all, redemption and reconciliation. What a gem! While many would say (myself included) that theologically, the story was a bit twisted, it worked quite well simply by temporarily employing a 'suspension of disbelief'. With that in play, one can expectantly respond to the conductor's "All aboard!" cry and take off on a fantasy journey of many pleasures. First rate acting and a fascinating story line kept me glued in place and, in fact, put me back in line for a repeat journey. When Spanley (the name deliberately suggestive of Spaniel?), at the final dinner gathering elaborated on his previous canine adventures and times with the Master, the film moved seductively into the poetic realm. That segment should have the power to moisten the eyes of all but the most callous of humankind. What a cinematic feast!

Some of my favorite witticisms and one liners:

"Very handy, a Thursday. Keeps Wednesday and Friday from colliding."

"Diversions are all that's left before stepping out of the ante-room to eternity."

"Did we win the (Boer) war?" "I believe we lost more slowly than the other side."

"Only the closed mind is certain."

"I've heard it said that one encounter is a happenstance, two a coincidence and three a significance."

"I wouldn't call it a lie but more like a truth deferred, as it were.
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Topic From this Discussion
Help with "Mrs. Brimley's" Role(s) in the Movie, "Dean Spanley"
I heard the same thing, and it confounded me at first - I felt the film didn't need it, actually, but I think the implication is that she is the reincarnation of his son. ('Twas the Boer War though - not the World War.) I loved the movie either way.
Jul 18, 2011 by Tomodachi |  See all 8 posts
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