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The Selfish Giant

18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Thirteen-year-old Arbor and his best friend Swifty are part of society s outcasts, excluded from the social dynamic of both their school and their neighborhood. Forced into searching for and selling scrap metal to help feed their families, the boys come across fellow misfit Kitten (Sean Gilder, Shameless), a local scrap dealer and yard owner. Hoping to gain an extra edge in their on-the-fringes occupation, both boys attempt to win Kitten s favor Swifty by obsequiousness, Arbor by emulation. But the hardened Kitten seems to have no compassion for the youths who are yet so much like him, and the healthy competition between the two boys soon escalates until a wedge that threatens to end their friendship is driven between them. That is until a tragic event brings all three together in a way none of them ever thought possible. Echoing the unfettered depiction of British working class life of Ken Loach, director Clio Barnard s THE SELFISH GIANT is a contemporary take on the Oscar Wilde fable about the virtue of being one s self in the face of overwhelming adversity.


Special Features: Cast & Crew Interviews, Behind the Scenes, Trailer


Product Details

  • Actors: Conner Chapman, Sean Gilder
  • Directors: Clio Barnard
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: April 29, 2014
  • Run Time: 91 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00GS08X2S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,815 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Tommy Dooley TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 31, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video
This is described as a contemporary fable and yes it is but it is a whole lot more. Set in northern England we meet Arbor, he has to take medication to control his temper, his father has left and his older brother is a drug addict who feeds his habit through petty crime. At school Arbor has a best mate in `Swifty', he comes from an impoverished background where he has numerous siblings and a loser father who spends every penny and is even reduced to selling his own furniture, but his mum sees Swifty's potential.

After an incident at school Arbor gets `excluded' or expelled as we used to call it. Swifty, who he was standing up for, gets excluded but only for a few days. With nothing or `nowt' to do they decide to make some money by working for a dodgy scrap dealer with Romany leanings. This is the strangely named `Kitten'. He is happy dealing in stolen metal and cable and even shows the kids how to avoid the Smartwater that is used as a security device. Swifty has a natural affinity with horses and loves being with them so the rag and bone horse and cart are right up his street. Little Arbor on the other hand just wants to be the next Kitten. As things get ever more desperate on the home, front for both lads, they up the ante on the work almost unaware of the dangers.

This is simply an excellent film, director Clio Bernard - `The Arbor', has made a British realist drama with a heart and soul. The young lads who are the leads are both amazing. At times it feels unscripted or more accurately `natural' and that adds to the realism. The horses or ponies all look beautiful. There is a lot of profanity and some scenes that animal lovers may be upset by, due to how the horses are treated but that should in no way detract from what is a stunning piece of cinema.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Moon Bronte on December 30, 2013
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
When there is nothing else beautiful or redeeming in life. This movie is a portrait of a bleak, hard existence warmed through with the connection between two young boys who count on each other above all others, even though they are radically different in temperament and personality. The one apparent thing they have in common is how outcast they are and their determination to help their desperate mothers by taking on the work of men, as they are left with no other options. In its roughest form and manifestation, they are trying to be the head of household their fathers are not. Watching this struggle is heartbreaking, portrayed in a story that is both poetic and painful. As in many classic portrayals depicting coming of age, the bond between humans and animals, in this case horses, is expressed and symbolized as the one thing that brings both pride and love while showing how both child and beast are exploited by all who have failed them.
This is a film that will sit within you on a lasting level.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Barrie-John Murphy on January 19, 2014
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A beautiful tale of friendship amid the ugliness of everyday live. See how society treats its most vulnerable and weep.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. Gordon on September 8, 2014
Format: DVD
While not audacious and brave in it's style as Barnard's smashing debut "The Arbor", it explores much of the same territory – poverty in northern England. But this time Barnard uses a more neo-realist bent that recalls the films of Ken Loach, among others. And after two viewings, while I missed the wild rule-breaking she did in her first film, I felt she had made a film of gritty honest and emotional force.

The story centers on two young teens (very well played by non-pros). Diminutive Arbor is hyperactive, angry, and so on the edge he can be frightening and simultaneously heartbreaking -- Arbor needs meds just to allow him to be calm enough to function. And there's Swifty, his best friend who is introvert to Arbor's extreme extrovert. Swifty is willing to go along with Arbor's schemes to a point, but he also wants to honor his mother's wish that he get an education, and try to move up and out of poverty.

The two begin collecting (and sometimes stealing) scrap metal to sell to a tough local junk metal dealer, Kitten. This is a man who is capable of being almost a father figure one moment, and stomping you into the ground the next. A sort of modern Fagan, using the boys to do his bidding (although, to be fair, the boys come to him).

A dark, moody and ultimately deeply disturbing film, that refuses to let us or society off lightly when it comes to kids growing up in the cycle of poverty.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Luke on June 20, 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
SOME PEOPLE LEARN LIFE LESSONS THE HARD WAY, that being said., our main hero Arbor (emotionally challenged teen) lives in a pathologically deprived environment of rural England. He does not like school nor authority. Arbor has one friend named Swifty with whom he constantly gets into trouble and consequently gets thrown out of school. Arbor and Swifty turn into collecting and selling scrap metal to a local merchant who also deals with horse-racing (that is where Swifty comes in). The two boys bond really close, and stick up for each other until...the expected happens.

While watching this movie I could not shake off the impression that England was considered a developed country...The Selfish Giant (2013) surely shatters the image of that wealthy and prosperous James Bond's homeland. Another thing that might strike viewers, is the profound and excess use of profanity (I myself was not surprised for English crime movies are well known for its startling use of language) but here we have tween actors aging between 12-13 using the word f...as if it was their first spoken word before daddy and mommy. The ending could have been better, that is why I only give this English indie 4 solid stars.
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