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Music Box

116 customer reviews

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(May 20, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

Music Box provides celebrated director Costa-gavras another opportunity to weave a story of nail-biting suspense with frightening political overtones. In this intense courtroom thriller, Chicago attorney Ann Talbot (Jessica Lange) agrees to defend her Hungarian immigrant father mike Laszlo (Armin Mueller-Stahl) against accusations of heinous war crimes committed 50 years earlier. As the trial unfolds, Ann probes for evidence that will not only establish his innocence, but also lay to rest her own agonizing doubts about his past. When a hospitalized witness is suddenly located in Budapest, the trial moves to her father's homeland. Here crucial testimony plus Ann's personal investigation lead to astonishing results.

Special Features

  • Scene Indez
  • Digitally Mastered

Product Details

  • Actors: Jessica Lange, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Frederic Forrest, Donald Moffat, Lukas Haas
  • Directors: Costa-Gavras
  • Writers: Joe Eszterhas
  • Producers: Hal W. Polaire, Irwin Winkler, Joe Eszterhas
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: May 20, 2003
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008RV0G
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,301 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Music Box" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Joe TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 11, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
What if your Dad, the loving and beloved head of your middle-class American family, was suddenly charged with war crimes? This is the scenario for THE MUSIC BOX, a 1990 release, in which Jessica Lange plays a criminal defense lawyer asked by her widower father to defend him against such charges being brought by the US government on behalf of Hungary. The father, played by Armin Mueller-Stahl, is alleged to have committed multiple atrocities as an officer of a neo-Nazi police unit in Budapest during World War II. A complicating element is the father's vocal anti-communism, for which, he claims, the Red regime back in the old country is masterminding a frame-up. (Remember, we're talking about bad ol' days of the Cold War here.) Anyway, the Old Man needs a hotshot attorney, so his dutiful and devoted daughter takes the case.

Another reviewer has concluded that the plot is "far-fetched". Hmm. I would think that those aging American residents who've actually been charged with Nazi war crimes during the past couple of decades might not find it so far-fetched at all. Some have even been deported. Perhaps he's referring to the storyline that calls for the accused to be defended by his own offspring. OK, that probably wouldn't happen in real life. But, what is an otherwise idle Hollywood screenwriter to do when called upon to help fabricate a box office success?

The plot's arguable implausibility aside, both Lange and Mueller-Stahl give forceful and bravura performances as two people caught up in the fading echoes of receding history. The final scene between the two should have earned Lange that year's Oscar, but sadly didn't.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Angela Burton on July 28, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
This film is riveting. Every time I watch it, I am struck by the intensity of my emotional reaction. What daughter hasn't loved her father and wanted him to be her hero?

In "The Music Box," a fifty year old secret turns a family into a battleground. A father is accused of the most horrible crimes imaginable. His devoted daughter runs to his rescue. The pacing and suspense are superb. Scene by scene we see witness after witness reveal a knowledge of this man that the daughter cannot fathom. They have the wrong man. The wrong man, she states with resolve. Her defense is that it is a case of mistaken identity.

During his trial, she learns that her father has been having an affair with a neighbor for ten years. She realizes that her father is expert at keeping secrets. She is shocked that she never saw this aspect of his personality. Her secretary sees what the daughter cannot see. The secretary helps her find the courage she needs.

Forrest Tucker, who is prosecuting her father, is compassionate, yet determined to see her father brought to justice. But the daughter is brighter and better at the law than her opponent. She wins legal point after legal point.

Around all this emotional turmoil, we are once again reminded of the atrocities of World War II. We see the suffering and agony of the survivors of man's inhumanity against his human family.

The ending of this film makes my heart pound for about the last twenty minutes. If you gloss over truth in your life and trade in rationalizations, you might not enjoy this film. It is a film for those who are willing to lose what appears to be valuable,in return for what is only valuable,the absolute and undeniable truth.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By filmlover for 71 years on November 21, 2005
Format: DVD
Having originally seen the film when it was released, and owning the VHS version ( which by the way has captions) I could not believe the extremely poor quality of the DVD. I have slowly been replacing my videos w/DVD versions. In this case I will keep the VHS and get rid of my just purchased DVD copy. The film, the director, actors, are all incredibly good. I would give it 10 if there were such a number available, but certainly a 5. However the quality of the sound is so poor that if there were minus numbers, I would use them. Others have already written of the format, etc. so I will not repeat all that, but I agree that it should have had the option of widescreen,etc. But for the sound, there is NO excuse. It is not only poor, but at times, when the actors are speaking in a low voice, the DVD is inaudible. There is NO such problem on the VHS, and if there were there is captioning to resort to. Since there is no problem w/the sound on the video, it never occurred to me that the DVD would have such a big one.

If you can find a VHS copy, I would recommend it over this DVD.
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37 of 45 people found the following review helpful By andrew j romano on July 19, 2003
Format: DVD
This film contains the best performance of Jessica Lange's auspicious career hands down. This was also American audiences introduction to the wonderful Armin Mueller-Stahl in the role of Lange's father. Thank goodness I saw this film on the big screen, and then later on the Widescreen Laserdisc. I have never seen this film panned and scanned, and i refuse to now, even though it has been released on DVD. So, unless Artisan Home Video intends on re-releasing this outstanding film in the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio and in the 16x9 format, they are not getting my money.
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