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Masterpiece Classic: The Mystery of Edwin Drood

219 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Adaptation of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Charles Dickens final, little-known, and unfinished novel.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Matthew Rhys, Ellie Haddington, Tamzin Merchant, Freddie Fox, Rory Kinnear
  • Directors: Chris Dall, David Chalstery, Natalie Maloy
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS (DIRECT)
  • DVD Release Date: May 1, 2012
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (219 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0077PBPVE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,511 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By M. Secaur on May 25, 2012
Format: DVD
Being something of a Dickens purist, I very rarely watch new adaptations of his novels, television or otherwise, and after being badly disappointed by the BBC's 2011 soap-opera-like adaptation of "Great Expectations", I didn't exactly have high hopes for this film; in fact, I didn't even catch it when it first aired on PBS. After reading the novel (or half of one, anyway), I really wanted to see this and find out just what kind of ending the filmmakers came up with. I was astonished at just how excellent it was, and would rank it as one of the best productions of Dickens I've seen since "David Copperfield".

"The Mystery of Edwin Drood" was Charles Dickens' last novel; he was only able to complete half of it before he died in 1870. He intended his story to be a thriller, requesting that his publisher accept the book in twelve parts instead of the usual twenty. That being said, the film reflects that ideal in spades, clipping along at a nice pace that rivals even the best modern-day mystery novel and incorporating a healthy dose of psychological drama for extra suspense. The dramatic tension is there from the very first scene and doesn't let up until the end credits roll. Highly atmospheric and oftentimes chilling, it would be hard to imagine a more ideal production.

The second half falters a little bit, owing to the the lack of true Dickensian dialogue and plotting, but the numerous twists and turns and surprising character development never really feel as though he couldn't have written them himself. Some people might dislike the ending, but I found it unexpected and very appropriate. Dickens wasn't above resorting to using the "deus ex machina" device himself, so who's to say it doesn't belong here?
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64 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Charity Bishop on March 9, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It was the novel Charles Dickens never finished. Halfway into the narrative, he suffered from a stroke and died the following day, leaving his mystery unfinished. No one knows how he intended it to end, but after a viewing of this recent adaptation by the BBC I must admit, it has a certain Dickens-esque style.

There is only one woman for John Jasper (Matthew Rhys). Unfortunately, she happens to be introduced to his younger nephew, Edwin Drood (Freddie Fox). An ambitious young man who dreams of foreign travels with a cherub face but has too little respect for his fiancé to please his uncle, he cannot seem to understand how blessed he is to be engaged to such a lovely girl. But Jasper is profoundly aware of it, so much so that his opium-induced fantasies in a darkened corner of a local den often include dispatching with his blonde nephew and taking his place in Rosa's arms. His attention is unnoticed by most but not by Rosa (Tamzin Merchant), who is uncomfortable with his affection and seeks to avoid him whenever possible. Having remained silent on the matter, she confides her concern to her new friend, Helena Landless (Amber Rose Revah), a recent arrival to the school from India.

Unfortunately, that very evening Helena's hot-tempered brother Neville (Sacha Dhawan) and Edwin come to a dispute in Jasper's rooms over the young man's treatment of Rosa in public, which leads to an estrangement that threatens to grow into something more as Jasper's obsession with the young woman deepens. His obsession with the crypt beneath the church also causes suspicion when Durdles (Ron Cook) is hired to carve a new monument for one of the graves, and the child commonly about the church and grounds has an encounter with the older man that leaves him shaken.
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Format: DVD
I have always been fascinated by Charles Dickens' final and unfinished novel "The Mystery of Edwin Drood." It is a work that practically screams for different interpretations seeing that the project was left completely open-ended. And I've seen a lot of different takes on the material from the 1935 movie with Claude Rains to the stark 1993 British film and even the quirky musical (which opened in 1985 with Betty Buckley) that relied on audience participation to round out the solution. At heart, it is a tale that combines elements of the horror genre with those of a mystery to tell the sordid tale of a popular young man who goes missing. This Masterpiece Theater presentation takes the expected liberties but does maintain a distinctly Dickensian feel. It is structured in basically three narrative segments (over two installments). In the opening, we meet a cast of eclectic characters. After the disappearance, the film revolves around a couple of investigations that may have relevance to what happened. And the final bit pulls the major players together for a lengthy exposition describing the mystery's answer.

The story stars a committed Matthew Rhys as the sweaty, opium addicted John Jasper. Freddie Fox plays the titular hero, his nephew who seems to have it all. And Tamzin Merchant is the woman they both love. The other colorful characters include an enabling landlady, a opium purveyor, a well-meaning reverend, siblings from overseas, and a crypt keeper and his young assistant. There are a lot of characters to juggle in the opening sequences and, truthfully, some of their interactions didn't seem quite organic. This interpretation simply forced events that needed to happen without making them feel especially real.
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