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The Claim (2000)

Wes Bentley , Peter Mullan , Michael Winterbottom  |  R |  DVD
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Wes Bentley, Peter Mullan, Milla Jovovich, Nastassja Kinski, Sarah Polley
  • Directors: Michael Winterbottom
  • Writers: Frank Cottrell Boyce, Thomas Hardy
  • Producers: Alexis Lloyd, Andrea Calderwood, Andrew Eaton, Anita Overland, David M. Thompson
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: June 26, 2001
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005AX6G
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,322 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Claim" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge has been transplanted to the edge of the American frontier in this vivid drama that didn't receive the theatrical exposure it deserved. Although top young actors adorn the movie's ads, the central character--Daniel Dillon, a man who runs the gold rush town of Kingdom Come--is played by little-known Peter Mullen. In the dead of winter in 1849, three people arrive in town, changing irrevocably Dillon's life. One is Donald Dalglish (Wes Bentley), the clear-thinking leader of a railroad prospect crew who will determine where the railroad line--and a new line of wealth--will be built. The others are a mother and daughter (Nastassja Kinski, Sarah Polley) who have a past connection to Dillon and the knowledge of how he became rich. As events unfold--in pure Hardy fashion--Dillon finds himself facing a crossroads, with one path leading to redemption. The cast is uniformly brilliant, but special praise must go to Mullen, who carries the film's dramatic weight, and to Bentley, who is so composed in a role completely dissimilar to his breakthrough work in American Beauty. Director Michael Winterbottom (who adapted another Hardy piece with his film Jude) and cinematographer Alwin H. Kuchler have fashioned their film after Robert Altman's landmark McCabe and Mrs. Miller in the natural, earthy feel of a frontier town. The film opened in 2000 and deservedly appeared on a few top 10 lists, then was rereleased the following year. --Doug Thomas

Product Description

Against the dramatic backdrop of the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains, The Claim's richly textured story of love, betrayal, loss and redemption unfolds. This "beautifully acted" (Premiere) tale strikes pure gold with an all-star cast featuring Wes Bentley (American Beauty), MillaJovovich (The Fifth Element), Peter Mullan (Miss Julie), Sarah Polley (Go) andNastassja Kinski (Tess) and is "one of the best movies in recent memory" (Elle). It's 1869 and Daniel Dillon (Mullan) has made a fortune off his claim to gold-rich property in California. He knows that if his prosperity is to continue, he must convince a railroad planner (Bentley) to connect the new line through his town. But the plans to bring the train are derailed when, on a cold, wintry day, a mother (Kinski) and daughter (Polley) mysteriously arrive, revealing a shocking connection to Dillon one that could devastate his town, his life and his empire.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Hardy Spin on the American Western November 9, 2004
One of the most remarkable adaptations of a literary work I've seen. Frank Cottrell Boyce completely changes Thomas Hardy's classic The Mayor of Casterbridge - and actually betters it lifting it from its original setting and tailoring it into a tale of the American West during the Gold Rush. Some of Hardy's holes hold (predictable) difficulty for many modern readers, but Boyce's western retelling fills them in and lends strong plausibility. (There's a tad too much "faint, fall ill and die" for me in the Hardy original). Some have complained that Boyce went too far - but this is a movie "based" on the book not claiming to be a faithful retelling.

Director Michael Winterbottom proves to have an enormous eye emerging in bold style at once stylized and natural. He brings us here images that, once seen, burn, linger and haunt forever be it a Victorian mansion hauled across the frozen plains or a horse's immolation as on fire it gallops across the screen.

Winterbottom's cast is a strong one - none remaining as they initially seem, each changing before our eyes. Kinski, first strong and bitter gives one of her most tender heartbreaking performances, Wes Bentley, likeable and promising becomes petty and meddlesome. Milla Jovovich serves up, predictably, hearty and hot, yet more delicate than she would like to appear.

In all of this Peter Mullan's Daniel Dillon is the focus and the fulcrum by which the story hinges. He is never less than masterful. To see him early on nearly ravaged by youthful greed then watch him in age yearn for salvation that may never come or come too late, one cannot help but be riveted by his endeavor to make up by his plight and his attempt to change it.

The Claim is a remarkable film which, while it may take a bit of time to warm up to, burns its own unique reward in a way few modern Hollywood films can.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars cold truth November 5, 2006
This is the West as I imagine it actually was, rough, unrefined, and brutal. Similar in tone to DAYS OF HEAVEN, another bit of American history, THE CLAIM is told in unsentimental bleak fact; nobody is spared, and there are no real winners except the railroad.

Daniel Dillon arrives in the wilds of Northern California during the gold rush with his wife and infant daughter in hopes of making a fortune in the gold fields. They arrive at a claim shack, cold, hungry, and out of hope and are taken in by the claimer, and in short order, Dillon unsentimentally sells his family to the lonely miner for the claim. The wife, Elena, aware that she has little say, goes with her new master, but does not close the door on Dillon.

Years later, we find that Dillon has made a go of things with his claim; he has built a town called Kingdom Come, wrested out of the mountains virtually by himself, a rough-and-ready place without amenities beyond the ubiquitous saloon and whorehouse to supply the miners. A survey crew appears; negotiations are begun to possibly bring the newly-constructed railroad through Kingdom Come and establish Dillon as the baron he envisions himself to be. The survey crew brings with it, however, a nasty shock for him; his erstwhile wife and now-grown daughter - who is unaware that Dillon is her father. Elena - the wife - is dying; she has come back to make some sort of arrangement with Dillon, as the man she was sold to has died and left her destitute, and she wants to provide for her daughter, the unlikely-named Hope. Dillon, on seeing her, realizes suddenly that his ambitions have left him hollow; his closest association is the madam of the town bordello, who loves him, but who he has no intention of marrying.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films I've ever seen December 7, 2002
If, as another reviewer said, you're looking for big blasts, action and a superficial script that has nothing to reveal then get yourself something else. This film is beautiful from start to finish. The acting is superb and contained, not overly dramatic...half of the dialogue is in the character's faces and gestures and not in the words they speak. Sarah Polley's performance as the introverted young girl who lives through the most painful years of her young life is outstanding. Shot in British Columbia (supposed to depict the Sierra Neveda Mountains), the scenes are breathtaking (particularly on a large screen) and cold, very very cold. The story will leave you weeping (at least it did me), and is even more affecting because it is all so understated. Not for those who want happy endings or who can't sit through serious drama. This is acting and cinematography at its best.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Movies Don't Get Any Better Than This February 25, 2002
Quite simply, "The Claim" is the best film I've seen thus far in the young millennium. A dark, Shakespearean tale of retribution, it is in fact a transposition of one of British author Thomas Hardy's greatest novels, "The Mayor of Casterbridge," to the 19th Century American West. It is aimed at literate viewers whose attention span is longer than that of a golden retriever. WARNING: The subtlety and slow pacing of this film render it potentially lethal to anyone who likes auto racing, pro wrassling, and/or "Armageddon"!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a pleasant surprise October 16, 2002
I just stumbled across this movie on cable and was pleasantly surprised. It does owe it's look to the classic "McCabe and Mrs. Miller", but I find no fault with that. A naturalistic movie with a gritty tone, a measured pace and a matter of factness about it. I loved the look at this high Sierra frontier town and it's denizens. Movie viewers weened on a steady diet of pyrotechnics and CGI might want to skip this one and revel in the MTV masturbations of something like "3000 Miles to Graceland" They won't enjoy this as evidenced by other reviewers considering this a bore. If you don't mind an atmospheric movie and don't need Al Pacino chewing the wallpaper to think that acting is going on, then you might just enjoy this melancholy western epic.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A well crafted movie.
Published 1 month ago by Nancy Fluke
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Excellent!!
I LOVE movies about the California Gold Rush, and this timeframe in general. This film is a standout...the casting is perfect, and the photography is absolutely breathtaking. Read more
Published 3 months ago by M. Mccrory
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
This is a great film which will take you back in time and can be easily watched many times! I love the tents glowing in the dark!
Published 4 months ago by Scott A Miller
1.0 out of 5 stars What in the World?
I watched the first hour of this movie, wondering if it would get better. It didn't and I stopped wondering and trying. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Radiant Smiler
5.0 out of 5 stars An overall great movie!
Really like this movie. It has the romance, the action and suspense, the scenery, the storyline is great....The actors and actresses are great and talented. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Alyce Silva
5.0 out of 5 stars Good as it gets
Great film set in alaska gold country about a man who trades his claim which he thought was empty and the man traded the claim for a woman and child. Read more
Published 6 months ago by jasper
5.0 out of 5 stars A nice little film.
I've always enjoyed "The Claim," so decided to purchase at long last. Sure, it's not Oscar material, but it offers interesting characters, a bit of a mystery, and just good... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Coco
5.0 out of 5 stars this is in excellent condition thanks.
Published 8 months ago by charles leyrer
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Different
I found this movie interesting. The subject matter is very dark just like the human mind can be sometimes. It causes you to think about the consequences of your decisions.
Published 12 months ago by Mike Eblen
5.0 out of 5 stars The Claim
Another gem from Milla Jovovich, a period western that was overlooked at the box office-great acting and production values. Critically aclaimed and worth a look.
Published 13 months ago by Edmond Schmolke
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