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3.9 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews

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(Jul 29, 2003)
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Editorial Reviews

Spider has been allowed a second chance at life after a long stay in a mental institution and sent to a halfway house under the stern watch of Mrs. Ilkenson.

Revisiting his old neighborhood reawakens memories of where his mother and his father raised him. He soon begins to uncover the real truth shifting seamlessly back and forth between the tragic events that polarized a boy's adolescence to the shell of a man enduring the surreal plausible reality of today.

Special Features

  • "In the Beginning: How Spider Came to Be" featurette
  • "Weaving the Web: The Making of Spider" featurette
  • "Caught in Spider's Web: The Cast" featurette

Product Details

  • Actors: Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson, Gabriel Byrne
  • Directors: David Cronenberg
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: July 29, 2003
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00000F4MA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,227 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Spider" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This movie is a strange mood piece with a tremendous performance by Ralph Fiennes as a man who's been released from a mental institution and has returned to the London neighborhood where he grew up. The nature of his illness is deliberately unclear. We simply watch as familiar surroundings trigger disturbing memories of his boyhood, and through them we slowly piece together his story.
The mood is set by a long, long tracking shot as the movie begins, as passengers disembark from a train in a large London terminal. The camera seems to be searching through this throng for someone in particular, and after what seems like an eternity, Fiennes as Spider emerges painfully and awkwardly onto the platform with a beat-up suitcase. And we are plunged from a scene of everyday activity into his world, which is far, far removed from the everyday and ordinary.
There's a twilight-zone kind of ambiance in the movie, as the camera shows us interiors and exteriors that are typically empty of furnishings and people. Street scenes, for instance, have no passing traffic, no pedestrians, not even cars parked at curbs. The lighting is often like stage lighting, coming from unexpected sources and providing an eerie flatness. The soundtrack alternates between strange rumbling noises, a small group of strings experimenting with mournful dissonance, and a lovely old-fashioned ballad that Spider remembers from childhood.
The supporting actors are wonderful, as they waver in our perception between what their characters really are and how they appear to Spider. Miranda Richardson has the task of playing three different characters, each as Spider sees them. Gabriel Byrne and Lynne Redgrave in brief scenes give richly nuanced performances.
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Format: DVD
...and that takes absolutely NOTHING away from the stunning contributions from everyone involved in this project. As soon as I read Patrick McGrath's incredible novel a few years ago, I knew I had discovered something wonderfully unique - then I read that there were plans for a film, with McGrath writing the screenplay - and when the pieces began to fall into place (Ralph Fiennes in the title role, along with Miranda Richardson and Lynn Redgrave, with David Cronenberg directing) I knew that the film would be something very special indeed. I was almost afraid to see it when it appeared in theatres (delayed for months in the US after its European release, evidently to keep it from being confused with SPIDER-MAN) - I feared that I had built up my expectations to a degree that they could not be fulfilled. I needn't have worried - the film floored me completely, from the performances by the great actors named above, to Cronenberg's masterful direction, to the perfect set design, Howard Shore's dead-on score, everything. This is as perfect an adaptation as a film could be. I couldn't wait for the DVD to come out, so I could view the film and have the ability to stop it and run it back in order to absorb all of its nuances.
It's also a difficult review to write - the plot twists are so delicious, and so perfectly rendered in the film, but to reveal too much about them would spoil it for any potential viewers. I'll try my best not to do that - I don't want to deprive anyone of the full effect. I have to agree wholeheartedly with another reviewer below when he states that `Hitchcock would have killed' to direct this story, and that it quite possibly surpasses anything that Hitchcock ever did (how many contemporary films could you say THAT about, and mean it...?).
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Format: DVD
This is a disturbing film because its depiction of madness conveys an astonishing realism. Director, David Cronenberg, (Crash, Naked Lunch and The Fly) has managed to merge the leading character's disquieting mind with the audience. This is no small task considering the subject matter, and the fact that the protagonist is suffering from intense delusions concerning his past. We see through the eyes of Spider - the memories of his childhood, though as the tale unfolds, we begin to distrust his memories and see that they blend with fantasy. The film is a study on the mechanics of repression, and the psychological notion that memory cannot be trusted.
Spider (Ralph Fiennes) arrives at a halfway house somewhere in London. Mrs Wilkinson, (Lynne Redgrave) meets him at the door. This woman is everything you would expect from a proprietor of a house for newly released mental patients. It is here that we begin to learn of Spider's childhood: his relationship with his mother and father, which is the key to the cause of his present condition. Miranda Richardson plays three different roles in the film - Spider's mother, the prostitute and later, the proprietor of the halfway house. The mother and the prostitute are entirely different, but the proprietor is an impressive blending of all three. As we learn more about Spider's childhood, we really don't know what to make of his father (Gabriel Burne) he an abusive man, an adulterer and drunk or merely a man doing his best to cope with an unhappy marriage? Gabriel Burne admitted that this was one of the hardest roles he's had to do, because he had to play the character on a fine line, so as not to give anything away to the audience. When you see the end of the film, you'll agree that he succeeded in his intended performance.
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