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Lost Empires (1986)

 NR |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

List Price: $49.99
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Product Details

  • Format: Box set, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: September 27, 2011
  • Run Time: 410 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0056G1ANE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #135,076 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

SDH subtitles

Editorial Reviews

'Thoroughly engrossing' --Los Angeles Times

'Heartily recommended' --The New York Times

'Filled with wonderful characters and bravura turns' --The New York Times

As seen on Masterpiece Theatre

Eager to see more of the world, Richard Herncastle (Oscar® winner Colin Firth, The King’s Speech) joins a traveling stage act run by his uncle Nick (John Castle, The Lion in Winter). His new colleagues are an assorted bunch of singers, dancers, acrobats, jugglers, and comedians, including one (Oscar® winner Laurence Olivier, Rebecca) whose best days are well behind him. Captivated by the group’s female performers, Richard embarks upon a series of love affairs as the act tours the length and breadth of Britain.

Nominated for six BAFTA awards and a supporting actor Emmy® for Olivier, this haunting saga based on J.B. Priestley’s novel garnered acclaim on Masterpiece Theatre. Set on the eve of World War I, Lost Empire unfolds against the backdrop of the coming conflict in Europe--and the growing sense that the world is about to change forever.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
137 of 138 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Granada Television's 1986 "Lost Empires" is a series that proves that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Starring a sullen young Colin Firth, this eight-hour, three DVD set has held a place in my heart for the last 16 years. It was with much anticipation then that I opened this package and watched it anew with my family. Would it stand the test of time? Was it as great as I recalled?
Based on the novel by JB Priestley, LE chronicles the adventures of young Richard Herncastle (Firth), an aspiring landscape painter, who in 1913 accepts an offer from his hard-nosed Uncle Nick (John Castle II) to join his magic act and tour the great `empire halls' on England.
Uncle Nick promises "I'll show you the world lad!" In the process young Richard gets more than he bargained for in the way of life adventures. . Firth's Herncastle finds himself thrown together with magicians, dwarfs, sad-sack comedians, flirty torch-song singers, suffragettes and aging Sir Lawrence Olivier. And he also quickly becomes the lightning rod that somehow touches all their lives.
The first half of LE, featuring Sir Lawrence Olivier as pathetic comedian Harry Barrard, Carmen du Sautoy as sultry Julie Blaine, John Castle's riveting Uncle Nick and Beattie Edney as love interest Nancy Ellis is where Lost Empires shines! We feel the whole world opening up for Richard as he is torn between Nancy and Julie. Every night this travelling company performs authentic song and dance numbers as we see World War I looming in the background.
Of special note is John Castle. Playing master illusionist "Ganga Dun" Castle's Nick Ollanton creates a character so vivid and steely that he virtually steals the DVD.
The second half of LE slows down a bit after young Richard has learned a few life lessons the hard way.
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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lost Treasure is more like it. March 17, 2003
By P. Hall
What a pleasure to watch these dvds. The story flows and moves gracefully through each chapter. Firth is magnificent. Awards should have been given for this production. All the actors put so much into their performances. And to have Colin Firth narrating the entire story was music to my ears. We need more Colin Firth.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Colin Firth's Big Television Break March 10, 2006
Colin Firth's first memorable TV role - and doesn't he look young! This series links the beginning of the decline of the British Empire with beginning of the decline of the British Music Hall - the former with the First World war and the latter with the advent of cinema. The script is superb and Colin Firth and John Castle's performances are excellant. There is a cameo role in the first episode from Sir Laurence Olivier but it is obvious that his skill is in decline.

The main story is Colin's (Richard Herncastle's) coming of age - as he certainly learns about life in the music halls before he is shipped out to the horrors of the War. He loses his love but miraculously regains it in the trenches when fate decrees that she turns up to entertain the troops, Colin gets wounded and she saves him.

It is a wonderful story to get lost in on a cold winter's night and I greatly recommend it.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a "must-have" for Firth fans January 23, 2003
By Cath
This one ranks up there with "Pride and Prejudice" for the true Firth fan! You must have it in your collection. Colin Firth is young in this one..but there are definite signs of the smoldering Darcy we all know and love. Best of all, he is in almost every scene...hours and hours of hot, hetero FIRTH! (By the way, when is somebody going to realize this guy sells movies to woman of all ages? Get him some good roles!!)
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Masterpiece Theater's best August 15, 2003
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I originally saw Lost Empires on public broadcasting and it became one of my favorites, right up there with I Claudius and The Duchess of Duke Street. The cast is exceptional especially John Castle as Uncle Nick (why oh why do we see so little of this wonderful, sexy actor?). The entire production is glorious, taking the viewer right back to the days of pre WWI.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb recreation of the end of an era December 19, 2005
By Eunice
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This mini series taken from the book by J.B. Priestly is a superb recreation of the end of an era - the music hall way of life and the British Empire. Not since Topsy Turvy have I enjoyed a film about the theatre so much.

It is hard for those who were not around before television and the cinema to understand what a major business and way of life the music hall was. The entertainers, booking agents, theatre staff and others who made their living from the travelling performers who moved from town to dreary town bringing a little cheer and entertainment to the lives of workers in hard dull occupations.

The series shows how some entertainers spent their entire careers on the circuit singing maudlin songs, or performing in unchanging comedy or acrobatic routines - the animal acts, the knockabout comics. As there was no social security or unemployment pay, losing, or not getting a booking, could mean devastating poverty (read Charlie Chaplin's autobiography - his mother losing her voice and with it her singing career ended in the workhouse for the whole family). There was also a hierarchy in the circuits, London being the prize, and the northern and working class districts inferior. A performers status could be judged by where he or she was booked to play.

Although the era of the music hall as a primary form of entertainment ended after WWI, it staggered on until the 1950's as I can remember being taken to the Palace in Halifax, Yorkshire to see variety shows every week, and it lasted even longer in seaside towns headlined by popular TV entertainers.

The only reason for not rating this five stars is the quality of the picture - grainy and by disc 3, blurred. The color is uneven.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must See for Colin Firth Fans
A must see for true Colin Firth fans! A coming of age story set in an English touring Vaudeville Troup the year before the War to End All Wars, this gives a glimpse into the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by nds
4.0 out of 5 stars Early Colin Firth, late Olivier.
With the most recent Best Actor Oscar deservedly going to Colin Firth, it is not surprising that the vigilant folks at Acorn Video would comb the British television archives and... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jon Wynne
5.0 out of 5 stars Lost in the VHS era
An absolutely fabulous epic film; only hindered by the fact I could only find it in VHS mode! Needs to be adapted to DVD!
Published 6 months ago by dd
5.0 out of 5 stars Who doesn't like Colin Firth
Any movie with Colin Firth is going to be fun to watch and this is no exception. Great history background and lush costumes.
Published 10 months ago by Laura Lehmann
5.0 out of 5 stars Lost Empires
This story about a young man,who loses both parents, and seems to have no relatives, except an uncle, with a traveling magic show, who takes him under his wing, employing him in... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Karen
5.0 out of 5 stars Crazy and Creative
This set of dvd's is when Colin Firth was very young. It has very mature themes and is for adult audiences.
Published 17 months ago by JFK
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my style
Very disappointed the hype was too intense,because of the star, the incomparable Colin Firth. I expected more than I got.
Published 17 months ago by Lois Metlika
2.0 out of 5 stars Lost Entertainment
This is an expensively made, poorly written, and well-acted soap opera. It's the basic poor boy goes on tour with the vaudeville plot. Read more
Published 20 months ago by C.A. Arthur
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding back stage story of life upon the wicked stage in England...
This rich tapestry of the theatre in Great Britain at an exciting time in history become alive with great style in the hands of a very talented cast and outstanding care for detail... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Charles H. Massey
5.0 out of 5 stars Lost CLASSIC
Absolutely brilliant. I remember this from tv years ago and couldn't believe it when I saw it was available.

Made at a time long ago when tv drama was QUALITY. Read more
Published on June 22, 2012 by Timelord UK
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