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60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN OUTSTANDING MULTI-GENERATIONAL FAMILY SAGA...
I love this movie! It has a stellar cast, who give top notch performances. How can you go wrong with Jeremy Irons, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Antonio Banderas, Winona Ryder, Vanessa Redgrave, and Armin Muehler-Stahl? The answer is that you can't. It is a riveting piece of film making, based loosely upon Isabelle Allende's wonderful book of the same name.

The...
Published on August 5, 2001 by Lawyeraau

versus
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The DVD version has been edited and is shorter than the VHS.
I've saw this movie on VHS a long time ago. I saw it again on DVD recently and I have noticed that it has been re-edited and shortened. In the longer version, the Jeremy Irons character at the beginning of the film is in his old age. He visits his old farmhouse with his daughter and remembers the years gone past. The movie then goes into a flashback and tells the...
Published on April 15, 2004 by Anton Karidian


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60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN OUTSTANDING MULTI-GENERATIONAL FAMILY SAGA..., August 5, 2001
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This review is from: The House of the Spirits (DVD)
I love this movie! It has a stellar cast, who give top notch performances. How can you go wrong with Jeremy Irons, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Antonio Banderas, Winona Ryder, Vanessa Redgrave, and Armin Muehler-Stahl? The answer is that you can't. It is a riveting piece of film making, based loosely upon Isabelle Allende's wonderful book of the same name.

The film delicately captures the mysticism of the book, rendering those scenes in which such is the focal point highly believable. This is no mean feat given the subject matter. The story takes place in South America. The saga begins in the nineteen thirties.

Vanessa Redgrave and Armin Muehler-Stahl play the wealthy and liberal parents of two daughters, Rosa and Clara Del Valle. Rosa is the beautiful, older daughter. Clara, played by Meryl Streep's real life daughter, is a lovely child with exceptional, psychic gifts. Jeremy Irons plays the part of Esteban Trueba, an impoverished young man in love with Rosa. Vowing to make his fortune in order to marry her and provide her with the comforts to which she is accustomed, he succeeds in making his fortune. He loses Rosa, however, before being able to marry her, when she drinks poisoned wine intended for her liberal party father.

Esteban, broken hearted, leaves with his fortune and buys an estancia, where he sternly rules with an iron fist over the peasants who work the land for him. They obsequiously refer to him as "Patron". He takes what he wants, even the women, with the expected result. He has a bastard son whom he does not acknowledge.

Esteban has a spinster sister, Ferla, well acted by Glenn Close, who, for the past twenty years, has lived a grim existence in the city with their ailing mother, whom she has taken care of. When their mother dies, Esteban, now a bitter and lonely man, returns to the city from his estancia to attend his mother's funeral. In doing so, he spots Clara, who is now all grown up and ethereally portrayed by the very talented Meryl Streep. Not wasting a moment, he goes to her home. She, luminous, and mystical, already knows that he is there to ask for her hand in marriage and happily accepts. After all, she has loved him ever since she first saw him all those years ago.

Clara lovingly embraces his sister, Ferla, into the bosom of her househould, when they move to her Esteban's estancia. Ferla blossoms from a bitter old maid into a companionable and pleasant woman, under Clara's warmth. Esteban and Clara eventually have a child, Blanca, who grows up playing with Pedro, the son of the estancia's indigenous indian foreperson. When Esteban discovers this, he sends Blanca away to boarding school. He does not want his daughter fraternizing with the peasants.

Clara, loving and pure of heart, is his exact opposite. When their daughter finally grows up and returns home from school, she knows that the independent Blanca, well played by Winona Ryder, has fallen in love with her childhood playmate, Pedro, passionately portrayed by Antonio Banderas. Esteban hates Pedro, as Pedro is a liberal inciting the peasants to unionize and demand their rights, whipping them into a frenzy against the "Patron", or so Esteban sees it. He drives Pedro off his land. He also drives Ferla off, as he believes her to have unatural feelings for his wife, Clara. Possessive to a fault, he is consumed by jealousy. Clara and Esteban have a fight over his cruelties, and she finally leaves him, taking Blanca with her to the Del Valle family home in the city.

Meanwhile, life goes on. Blanca, pregnant by Pedro, has his child, believing that Pedro has been killed by her father. Esteban, representing the wealthy, becomes senator. He reigns for years, until the liberals win power. When they do, however, their tenure is short lived, as a militairy coup sets up a reign of terror and his old sins come home to roost. Meanwhile, Blanca discovers that Pedro is alive, and they joyously hook up again. When Blanca is picked up as a political dissident and tortured for her political views, Esteban, old and broken, is now just a bit player in a larger arena. Too late, he tries to right some wrongs. Some of the wrongs, however, can never be righted.

This is a magnificent, multi-generational family epic, that holds the viewer in its thrall. While it only loosely follows Isabelle Allende's wonderful book of the same name, it is a winner in its own right. It has something for everyone, as it deals with human nature, as well as the complex emotions, forces, and events that shape one. The film is about a family struggling to find its place in our ever changing world, and the relationships that each member of that family forges. It is a rich and vibrant tapestry, which succeeds in capturing the viewer.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The DVD version has been edited and is shorter than the VHS., April 15, 2004
This review is from: The House of the Spirits (DVD)
I've saw this movie on VHS a long time ago. I saw it again on DVD recently and I have noticed that it has been re-edited and shortened. In the longer version, the Jeremy Irons character at the beginning of the film is in his old age. He visits his old farmhouse with his daughter and remembers the years gone past. The movie then goes into a flashback and tells the story from his youth.
In the DVD version, the entire opening scene is omitted and the story is told from the beginning. Therefore there is NO suggestion of a flashback. The edited out opening scene is quite poignant and gives more insight into the Jeremy Irons character.
Decent and interesting film none the less. Hopefully the studio will release it in it's original unedited version with extras.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Another pointless DVD issue, October 31, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The House of the Spirits (DVD)
Clearly the idiot execs at Miramax did read not the previous reviews of the previous DVD release. This issue of this movie is exactly the same as the previous issue. Whilst the AMAZON product's original description posted said was 140 minutes (recently corrected by Amazon) when infact it is actually, - per the label on the back - 133 minutes. So this "new" release is still the same as the previous substandard release and is also the, SHORTENED edited version missing the entire opening scene as in the theatrical release. Further to add insult to injury, after eagerly purchasing which what I thought based on the product description was the uneditied verion - there are absolutely NO extras - not even the measly theatrical trailer.

Stay clear of this recent release....and hopefuly the studio (Miramax) will get their act together and release the full - unedited version.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A heart-warming story presented by an excellent cast., February 12, 1999
By A Customer
This movie has a lot of "reading points" and has achieved something very difficult. Bring together top-rank cast usually does not produce good results. But, "House of the Spirits" proves that it can work fine. Inner-family problems and lack of communication as well as greed in a class-oriented society couldn't be told better. The movie has so many universal themes, finely blended. U.S. version unfortunately is not in its entirety. I say, don't miss if you see the European (longer version) by any chance.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MULTI-GENERATIONAL FAMILY SAGA..., May 20, 2006
This review is from: The House of the Spirits (DVD)
I love this movie! It has a stellar cast, who give top notch performances. How can you go wrong with Jeremy Irons, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Antonio Banderas, Winona Ryder, Vanessa Redgrave, and Armin Muehler-Stahl? The answer is that you can't. It is a riveting piece of film making, based loosely upon Isabelle Allende's wonderful book of the same name.

The film delicately captures the mysticism of the book, rendering those scenes in which such is the focal point highly believable. This is no mean feat given the subject matter. The story takes place in South America. The saga begins in the nineteen thirties.

Vanessa Redgrave and Armin Muehler-Stahl play the wealthy and liberal parents of two daughters, Rosa and Clara Del Valle. Rosa is the beautiful, older daughter. Clara, played by Meryl Streep's real life daughter, is a lovely child with exceptional, psychic gifts. Jeremy Irons plays the part of Esteban Trueba, an impoverished young man in love with Rosa. Vowing to make his fortune in order to marry her and provide her with the comforts to which she is accustomed, he succeeds in making his fortune. He loses Rosa, however, before being able to marry her, when she drinks poisoned wine intended for her liberal party father.

Esteban, broken hearted, leaves with his fortune and buys an estancia, where he sternly rules with an iron fist over the peasants who work the land for him. They obsequiously refer to him as "Patron". He takes what he wants, even the women, with the expected result. He has a bastard son whom he does not acknowledge.

Esteban has a spinster sister, Ferla, well acted by Glenn Close, who, for the past twenty years, has lived a grim existence in the city with their ailing mother, whom she has taken care of. When their mother dies, Esteban, now a bitter and lonely man, returns to the city from his estancia to attend his mother's funeral. In doing so, he spots Clara, who is now all grown up and ethereally portrayed by the very talented Meryl Streep. Not wasting a moment, he goes to her home. She, luminous and mystical, already knows that he is there to ask for her hand in marriage and happily accepts. After all, she has loved him ever since she first saw him all those years ago.

Clara lovingly embraces his sister, Ferla, into the bosom of her househould, when they move to her Esteban's estancia. Ferla blossoms from a bitter old maid into a companionable and pleasant woman, under Clara's warmth. Esteban and Clara eventually have a child, Blanca, who grows up playing with Pedro, the son of the estancia's indigenous indian foreperson. When Esteban discovers this, he sends Blanca away to boarding school. He does not want his daughter fraternizing with the peasants.

Clara, loving and pure of heart, is his exact opposite. When their daughter finally grows up and returns home from school, she knows that the independent Blanca, well played by Winona Ryder, has fallen in love with her childhood playmate, Pedro, passionately portrayed by Antonio Banderas. Esteban hates Pedro, as Pedro is a liberal inciting the peasants to unionize and demand their rights, whipping them into a frenzy against the "Patron", or so Esteban sees it. He drives Pedro off his land. He also drives Ferla off, as he believes her to have unatural feelings for his wife, Clara. Possessive to a fault, he is consumed by jealousy. Clara and Esteban have a fight over his cruelties, and she finally leaves him, taking Blanca with her to the Del Valle family home in the city.

Meanwhile, life goes on. Blanca, pregnant by Pedro, has his child, believing that Pedro has been killed by her father. Esteban, representing the wealthy, becomes senator. He reigns for years, until the liberals win power. When they do, however, their tenure is short lived, as a militairy coup sets up a reign of terror and his old sins come home to roost. Meanwhile, Blanca discovers that Pedro is alive, and they joyously hook up again. When Blanca is picked up as a political dissident and tortured for her political views, Esteban, old and broken, is now just a bit player in a larger arena. Too late, he tries to right some wrongs. Some of the wrongs, however, can never be righted.

This is a magnificent, multi-generational family epic, that holds the viewer in its thrall. While it only loosely follows Isabelle Allende's wonderful book of the same name, it is a winner in its own right. It has something for everyone, as it deals with human nature, as well as the complex emotions, forces, and events that shape one. The film is about a family struggling to find its place in our ever changing world, and the relationships that each member of that family forges. It is a rich and vibrant tapestry, which succeeds in capturing the viewer.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable movie and cast, March 22, 2002
This review is from: The House of the Spirits (DVD)
"The House of the Spirits" was unknown to me until I read a review by my friend, "lawyeraau". I can't thank her enough for introducing this movie to me.
This is not the story of a house, but rather two... that takes place in South America...a beautiful country with an urgent desire to reform. Here begins our 60 year long saga of three remarkable generations.
Esteban (Jeremy Irons) wants to marry the young bride Rosa, the beautiful daughter of the Del Valle family. But an accidental tragedy takes the young girl's life and Esteban leaves, heart-broken to find his fortune on a large farm in the country side. Here he builds a beautiful house, hires ranch-hands, and becomes the infinitely wealthy "Patron".
Esteban returns to the house his former beloved once lived, and to his surprise, he instantly falls in love with Rosa's younger and very clairvoyant sister, Clara (Meryl Streep). They marry and return to his wealthy farm, bringing along Esteban's sister Ferla (Glenn Close) who is a turmoiled woman who has never known affection in her life. Esteban treats her abusively and cares nothing for her. Opposingly, Clara adores Ferla and they become closer than sisters. When I say closer, I can almost say there were moments of romantic love between Clara and Ferla. Ferla, who is an old, black-wearing spinster finds herself obsessed with Clara...her beauty, her passion, and her life, and believes her unusual gift of seeing the future brings her closer to God. All these things are denied in life to Ferla.

Once Clara gives birth to her daughter Blanca, Esteban in his hateful manner decides Ferla is a threat to his family and dismisses her forever from their lives.
Life goes on at the ranch without Ferla's over-zealous presence. Evidence of Esteban having illegitimate children, and mistreating his ranch workers eventually causes too much trouble for him. He begins to grow forever angry at heart..resenting the locals, often beating them into submission to work. He treats, what he believes, the "lower caste" like animals and maintains a life-long disgust for them.
How unfortunate for him that his daughter Blaca (Winona Ryder) falls for the most revolutionary man on the farm, Pedro (Antonio banderas). Thier love, like her parent's began at childhood and they intend never to be seperated.
Pedro is chased with gun far from the farm (having no idea that Blanca is pregnant with his child). An attempt to control the revolutionary ideas of "The People" and to keep him away from Blanca. This is the beginning of futile wars to come in South America. One with many horrifying twists and turns for the family.
This movie is excellent in so many ways. The cast was nothing short of perfection. There are enough hidden secrets, desires, politics, intrigue, war, torture, and affairs, to lend this movie enough dark corners to be explored, that it is impossible to even take notice of the length of the movie. It is long, but every chapter in this multi-generational film is as exciting as the first. I honestly don't understand why this movie is so unknown. It has that "classic" vibe that screams out for the attention it deserves. If you like this movie, you might also like a similar multi-generational movie..."Sunshine", another beatiful movie not to be missed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't watch this until you've read the book, April 24, 2002
This review is from: The House of the Spirits (DVD)
I watched this movie right after reading the book by Isabel Allende. I don't know if I would have followed the action of the movie as well otherwise. When you get past the somewhat unbeliable casting of American actors as South America characters (where Antonio Banderas has the most believeable accent - you know you are in trouble), this movie is a pretty entertaining soap opera of familial events set in a political background. The movie cuts out a lot of the characters from the book that you might miss (like the twins, the granddaughter, and a host of psychic friends, but it still manages to be entertaining if not melodramatic. The settings of the movie really do sort of capture that magical realism tone of the book exceptionally, and the pace of the movie is excellent. I would recommend this movie if you enjoy a sort of generations of a family melodrama, particularly if you are a fan of the book or Allende's other writings.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A favorite film, December 20, 2011
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This review is from: The House of the Spirits (DVD)
I don't know why one reviewer here is complaining so much about seven missing minutes and the lack of extras. This is one of our favorite films and for years we had to make do with my pan & scan VHS tape of 109 minutes. But even that tape seemed complete and coherent. I haven't read the novel but my wife who read it in English & in its original Spanish thought the filmmakers did a good job in condensing the elaborate story.

We watched this so-called 'substandard' DVD and enjoyed the film more than before. I haven't done a side-by-side comparison with the tape but this longer version of 133 minutes seems better than ever. This widescreen version looked great on our new 42" TV. If you don't know what's missing in the 140 minute version, a debatable unnecessary prologue that I explain in detail on the COMMENTS section below, you won't care as we did. This film is one to watch again & again because of the many good performances enhanced by ageing makeup. Everyone who borrowed my tape loved this family saga about forgiveness and the cast. I expect the same reaction when they borrow my DVD. Buy it and I guarantee you won't be disappointed. As for the lack of extras - What do you expect for $6.99?? I'm happy the film is available at such a low price and plays better than my old tape. Meanwhile I can wait for a deluxe edition, hopefully a Criterion one.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars High drama and conflict but it didn't stir my emotions, July 6, 2003
This review is from: The House of the Spirits (DVD)
This 1993 film is based on Isabel Allende's best selling novel. It tells the story of the sweeping changes that occurred in Latin America during in the past century. Mostly though, it tells the story of a family through the generations. There's passion, cruelty and greed. And there's also redemption and love.
Meryl Streep is cast as Clara, a woman with the gift of clairvoyance who grows up to marry Esteban played by Jeremy Irons. He's become a wealthy landholder who treats his workers badly and takes advantage of the women. Winona Ryder is their daughter who falls in love with Antonio Banderas, a young revolutionary, and Glen Close is Esteban's spinster sister. That's quite a cast. And they all do excellent jobs.
The story engaged me and kept me watching. It was interesting to see how the characters developed and how the country changed. There are many moments of high drama and conflict but my emotions were never stirred and it all played out like one long soap opera.
I do recommend the film though, if for no other reason than to gain a historical perspective on Latin America.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The House of the Spirits, July 12, 2012
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This review is from: The House of the Spirits (DVD)
This is possibly one of the best movies i have ever seen. For anyone who is spiritually minded it is a must see.
great actors
great scenes and Jeremy Irons is nothing short of brilliant!
I have been trying to find this movie for years so many thanks to Amazon, I now have one of the most amazing movies in my library.
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The House of the Spirits
The House of the Spirits by Bille August (DVD - 2011)
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