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A Tale of Two Cities (1989)

James Wilby , Xavier Deluc , Philippe Monnier  |  Unrated |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

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A Tale of Two Cities + David Copperfield (Charles Dickens) + Masterpiece Classic: Great Expectations
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Product Details

  • Actors: James Wilby, Xavier Deluc, Serena Gordon, John Mills, Anna Massey
  • Directors: Philippe Monnier
  • Format: Multiple Formats, 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: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: BFS Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: May 24, 2011
  • Run Time: 194 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004VK744A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,194 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

A Masterpiece Theatre Presentation

James Wilby, Xavier Deluc, Serena Gordon, John Mills and Anna Massey star in this gripping adaptation of Charles Dickens' immortal story of love and honor set against the fiery backdrop of the French Revolution.

Living in exile in England, beautiful young Lucie Manette is pursued by two suitors: fellow French exile Charles Darnay and dissolute Englishman Sydney Carton. Even though Sydney openly declares that he would make the ultimate sacrifice for her, Lucie chooses Charles, unaware of his secret past and noble heritage. As the French Revolution explodes, Charles heads for Paris to help a former servant in trouble and discovers that the Reign of Terror is far worse than he realized. Anarchy is rife. Justice is no more and Charles is captured by a crowd thirsty for the blood of aristocrats. The guillotine beckons - as does the long-ago promise that Sydney made to his beloved Lucie.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
141 of 141 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Accurate and touching film adaptation March 11, 2005
By Sasha
This film version of A Tale of Two Cities is a masterpiece -- it faithful adapts Dickens' classic novel while holding out as a worthwhile movie in its own right through incredible performances from its lead actors. The plot of the novel has not been touched -- in filming Dickens' most tightly-plotted novel, a good decision. The acting is uncommonly good. Sydney Carton is fabulously done; James Wilby is to be commended for a wonderful and nuanced performance. I also found Madame Defarge particularly well-done; the actress playing her is SCARY! Considering Mme. Defarge's character in the book, I think her almost insane bitterness and sharp purpose is well-portrayed.

A couple of unique things about this film include its use of French actors to play French characters and British actors to play British characters. No contrived accents, and people actually look their nationality -- both important in such a highly political story. I also strongly support the decision to have Carton and Darnay played by different people; yes, they're supposed to look alike, but not identical. And having different actors play them facilitates the portrayal of their very contrasted characters.

I am admittedly coming from the perspective of one who read and loved the book years before seeing the movie; I can't judge what this film would be like to someone who has never read the novel. But I found it an accurate and sensitive adaptation of the book I know and love, and I imagine that the beauty of the story would appeal just as easily to someone experiencing the story for the first time.
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92 of 93 people found the following review helpful
By Z. Yang
Never have the noble humanities and horrible dehumanization been revealed to such extremes as in Dickens' "A Tale Of Two Cities". Just exactly to what extreme the human hatred could go, just exactly to what extreme the human love could go, and just exactly to what extreme the human sacrifice could go, you will get answers from this novel.
It tells ineffably touching stories of love and sacrifice, striking stories of hatred and revenge, in the turmoil of French Revolution. This was the time that hunger would drive poor people to sip the wine spilled on the street stones, this was the time that an innocent man (Dr. Manette, Lucie's father) was imprisoned in the Bastille for eighteen years not for any crimes but for saving people's lives, this was the time that conscience made a noble person (Charles Darnay) to relinquish his aristocratic title and pursue life of simplicity and dignity, this was the time that a gentleman (Charles Darnay) would take the risk his own life to save the life of his servant, and this was the time that a young man (Sydney Carton) would take another man's place on the guillotine and realize his promise to his beloved (Lucie), to whom he treasured as "the last dream of my soul"......
This Masterpiece Theatre miniseries did a fairly good job in crafting the stories, although less successfully in bringing out the grandeur of the Revolution. But thanks to the wonderful actors and actresses, their brilliant acting has, to some extent, made up the weaknesses. Sydney Carton is a fascinating character. Young actor James Wilby has excellently sustained Carton's emotional complexities: his cynicism, his indifference, his impulsive yearning for life, and his devoted love to Lucie.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful story! March 22, 2002
By A Customer
First let me say that i haven't read the book,so I don't know if this adaptation is acurate to the Dickens's classic book;I won't go into that.Let me just say that i found this miniseries wonderful.It does have great acting,( handosme James Wilby as Sydney Carton-he's in Altman's Gosford Park;the Oscar-winning John Mills as Jarvis Lorry;Jean-Pierre Aumont as Dr. Manette,and on..),the costumes,the beautiful music score.The ending left me in tears.
I disagree with some reviewers that are saying that this movie is boring.It is not,but if you don't have enough patience and/or only watch action flicks,you won't like this.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece Theatre October 3, 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
This is a Masterpiece Theatre adaptation of Dicken's famous work. The casting is superb and Sidney Carton is particularly well-played...Well, spectacular actually. Jerry Cruncher, Madame Dufarge, Miss Pross and Mr. Lowry all come wonderfully to life in this five hanky tear jerker that will have you cheering in the end. An excellent screen version of an already wonderful story.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth watching. Worth owning. June 21, 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Within my admittedly limited experience, Masterpiece Theater dramatizations of great books are well produced and faithful to the original. This is no exception.

Well, Dickens's famous opening lines, "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times," etc. do not come at the beginning of the production but are inserted into a monologue by Sydney Carton shortly after the start of the second DVD. Otherwise, the plot, details, and characters seem much the same as I remember from when I last read the book several years ago.

My wife and I bought this set to help a young friend who is close to graduating from high school at a public school and therefore has problems with reading comprehension. We are well satisfied that she can watch this, then read, and perhaps profit in several ways.

Anyone looking for dazzling FX and computer-generated panoramics will be disappointed. This was made on a budget for television in 1989.

Otherwise, it is a capable -- sometimes very good -- and certainly a moving production. I think Dickens would have approved.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent movie that stays close to the novel.
Published 1 month ago by Scott Stewart
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by Irene G. Paciocco
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as these reviewers will have you believe!
On the basis of the previous reviews, I purchased this item for my son and I to watch, as he's currently reading the book in high school. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Herbert M. Metzler
5.0 out of 5 stars great
This soft ware worked unlike the game i bought and hated because it didnot work and our vender was as good at the trash he-she sells
Published 7 months ago by eto
3.0 out of 5 stars Too drawn out?
The part of Carton is well played. It is tempting for the director to use one actor for the "look alikes", Carton and Darnay; I appreciate the use of two different actors. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Edward Field
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic rendition of a fantastic book.
I am/was amazed that Charles Dickens could so accurately portray an alcoholic at a time when the word didn't even exist. The movie inspired me to read the book......... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Ceil Garrett
5.0 out of 5 stars Dickens Classic
Charles Dickens wrote more than Chrismal Carol. Dickens 101, 201, 301, doctorate, and if you don't watch out you will enjoy yourself.
Published 11 months ago by halh
5.0 out of 5 stars love
I love my movie collection 97% was bought from amazon I will continue to collect and I do from this sight and all movies were in excellent condition whether bought pre-owned or... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Sunshine
2.0 out of 5 stars Definately outdated....
Historical drama is definately my genre so I was drawn to this. All I can say was that it scarcely held my attention...and I'm not that particular. Read more
Published 16 months ago by DMG and co
5.0 out of 5 stars Decent Into Madness
I thought that this story and movie version aptly depicted the insanity of the French revolution. The movie was richly cast with a lot of heavy weights from the UK and France and... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Khatt
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