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The Last King - The Power and the Passion of Charles II


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Product Details

  • Actors: Rufus Sewell, Rupert Graves, Charlie Creed-Miles, Christian Coulson, Shirley Henderson
  • Producers: Emilio Nunez
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Miniseries
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: April 27, 2004
  • Run Time: 188 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001KL5M6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,038 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Last King - The Power and the Passion of Charles II" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Behind-the-scenes featurette

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Rufus Sewell, Diana Rigg, Rupert Graves. This compelling presentation reincarnates the life story of Great Britain's King Charles II nicknamed The Merry Monarch." His 25-year reign paints him as a passionate monarch who loved the arts and was a frivolous gambler. Very likely, he was also a sex addict, whose multiple mistresses bore all of his children. 2003/color/3 hrs., 8 min/NR/widescreen.

Amazon.com

It's not always good to be king in this fascinating BBC/A&E historical drama, featuring a complex performance by Rufus Sewell as the exiled British monarch who returned to a volatile, post-Cromwell England in the 17th century. Pressed to forgive the enemies who killed his father, Charles II takes the throne and finds himself squeezed from all sides by vicious power brokers, his vengeful mother (Diana Rigg), a manipulative mistress (Helen McCrory), dubious advisers, a contrarian best friend (Rupert Graves), and his bewildered Portuguese wife (Shirley Henderson). Problems with the Plague and Charles's own, restless libido further complicate family and political dramas, but beneath the king's operatic tenure are visible strains of progressive government: Charles, after all, ushered in an early era of democracy in England. The Last King's sharp script never slows, but it's the cast's intense performances that bring royal intrigues to life. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

The film does a fairly good job of portraying this balance that Charles maintained to retain and use power.
C. Collins
The most meddlesome is the lascivious Barbara Villiers, played with gusto by Helen McCrory, who also beds Charles' best friend as well as his son.
Alejandra Vernon
To add insult to injury the very first scene of the making of featurette shows a scene that does not appear in the American version.
Sean C

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

442 of 448 people found the following review helpful By J. Bowring on October 5, 2004
Format: DVD
It's a terrific miniseries, I would highly recommend watching it.

But DO NOT buy this DVD - as another reviewer notes, A&E has cut an hour from the series for no apparent reason. Maybe they just think North Americans are to stupid to watch more than three hours of a series. Or maybe they wanted to save on costs.

Amazon.co.uk sells the BBC version, a full 240 minutes, in Region 2 and VHS. Or buy directly from the BBC itself. Just don't support this company in continuing to butcher series and then use their monopoly to shove it down our throats.
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109 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Alejandra Vernon HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 22, 2004
Format: DVD
With a life full of lust and intrigue, Charles II (1630-1685) makes a good subject for this A&E/BBC production, which is lavish and wonderful to look at.
The film begins at his father's beheading in 1649, and after a period in exile, Charles becomes king in 1660; he soon after marries a Portuguese princess (Catherine of Berganza, played by Shirley Henderson) for her dowry, and though she never gives him a heir, it's a strange relationship that lasts.
Charles was more interested in wine and women than ruling, therefore was known as "The Merry Monarch," but had some catastrophic events during his reign, like the Great Plague of 1665, that was soon followed by the Fire of London, that left much of the city little more than ash and rubble. The Dutch warships would threaten the coast, and the citizenry, usually referred to as "the mob," and Parliament, making their anti-Catholic sentiments a problem when it came to his brother and heir, James.

Mostly this film centers on his mistresses, which are many. The most meddlesome is the lascivious Barbara Villiers, played with gusto by Helen McCrory, who also beds Charles' best friend as well as his son. As his best friend, the Duke of Buckingham, Rupert Graves puts in yet another outstanding performance, and Diana Rigg is terrific as his unloving mother, Queen Henrietta.
Rufus Sewell is superb as the king, and kudos must go to the makeup department for the very subtle aging throughout the film which adds to the believability of the characters.
Director Joe Wright and writer Adrian Hodges, with the beautiful cinematography of Ryszard Lenczewski and lovely score by Rob Lane, have brought us an entertaining view of this fascinating era of one of England's ruling families, with its sumptuous costumes on people who somehow always look a little dirty, fabulous palace interiors, numerous but tastefully filmed bedroom scenes, and some history too.
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 19, 2005
Format: DVD
I was watching the featurette provided on this DVD of "The Last King: The Power and the Passion of Charles II" when suddenly there was a shot of a topless Nell Gwynn (Emma Pierson), one of the more notable of the notorious mistresses of King Charles II of England, posing for a painting. I was taken aback because I knew I had not seen that particular shot in the mini-series I had just finished watching. Of course, it did not take long for me to understand that this is the A&E "edited" version of the original programme from across the pond. So, apparently if this is about "The Power and the Passion of Charles II," it would be "passion" with a small "p" given the edits.

Actually, it should probably be "power" with a small "p" as well, since once he was restored to the English throne Charles II constantly complained about his inability to do anything without the strong advice and consent of Parliament. The king was constrained by having to constantly reassure the lords of the land that he was neither his father, King Charles I, who was executed for having usurped the power of Parliament by proroguing the legislative body, nor his brother James, later King James II, who continued to be a devout Catholic in a land where the Church of England was the mandated faith.

The great irony of British history running through this story is that the same problem with plagued Henry VIII afflicts Charles II as well, namely producing a male heir. The Stuarts were on the British throne because when the boy King Edward VI died in 1553 all of the branches the Tudor family tree ended in female, Edward's older sisters Mary and Elizabeth, to his cousins Mary Stuart and Lady Jane Grey.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jean Mills on October 26, 2004
Format: DVD
I thoroughly enjoy every single minute of this film. I happen to love historical and period movies so this is extremely entertaining as far as I am concerned. I gave it to my sister to watch to see what her take would be on it and she loved it also. She is not into period films as much as I am. We both agreed that we admired King Charles and his commitment to his legacy and that of his brother. This was a constant battle for him and it seemed no one could be reasoned with. I believe he tried to be fair and that it was very difficult for him to have to punish people he admired and knew to be innocent but was in fact required to do so. I was not fortunate enough to have seen the A&E full on Miniseries so I didn't know I was missing anything. However, as my title for this review indicates, I was sorry when it was over. Anyone who likes history will love this film. I am happy I got it but feel cheated now that I know the original runs another hour longer. Why do they do that with these great films??? I don't get it. I think anyone would be willing to pay a little more to have the whole thing. Maybe the editing people are all relatives and they want to keep them employed...Anyway, I do recommend this film as I can honestly say I would rather have seen this cut version than not to have seen it at all.
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