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The Thorn Birds (1983)

Richard Chamberlain , Rachel Ward  |  NR |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (523 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward, Christopher Plummer, Bryan Brown, Brett Cullen
  • Writers: Lee Stanley
  • Producers: Lee Stanley
  • Format: Collector's Edition, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Dolby, Miniseries
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: February 3, 2004
  • Run Time: 460 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (523 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000Y40OS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,946 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Thorn Birds" on IMDb

Special Features

  • The complete miniseries on two discs

Editorial Reviews

The second most-watched miniseries (after Roots) of all time, The Thorn Birds was originally broadcast in 1983 and captivated viewers with its story of a lifelong conflict between the spirit and the flesh. Adapted from the bestselling novel by Colleen McCullough, the production stars Richard Chamberlain as a Catholic priest named Ralph de Bricassart, whose life in Australia between 1920 and 1962 is one long torment as he pines for his lover, Meggie Cleary (Rachel Ward), while seeking advancement in his clergyman career. The passion and the guilt make for compelling drama, but a stellar cast of supporting players adds muscle to the proceedings: Barbara Stanwyck (who won an Emmy for her work as Meggie's tough aunt), Jean Simmons, Richard Kiley, Christopher Plummer, Bryan Brown, and Mare Winningham. Chamberlain, who was something of the king of the miniseries form at the time, is very good in the lead, as is the often-underrated Ward. Their affair is indeed irresistible to watch, which proves to be true, too, of the story's thick weave of church politics, forbidden desire, social change over decades, and family secrets. --Tom Keogh

Product Description

Based on the bestselling novel, the film follows a priest and his struggle between his calling and his carnal lusts.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
215 of 225 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Could Probably Recite the Dialogue by Heart July 8, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Ok... first, I have to say that Tom Keogh, whose review sits above as the standard review for Amazon, needs to actually watch the movie. Opinion is one thing, but at least get the facts correct. Rachel Ward plays Meggie Cleary (not Meggie Carson) and Barbara Stanwyck plays her greedy, manipulative, devil-incarnate aunt.... not her grandmother. That aside...this still stands...for me at least, as the greatest mini-series ever! And, considering all the recent scandal surrounding the Catholic Church today, it is as relevant and thought provoking today as it was in 1983 when so many were incenced not only by the content and plot of the movie, but by its time of airing (holy week-the days leading up to Easter). The cast is perfection and makes an already engaging story about the inner battles of an ambitious Austrailan Priest (played by Richard Chamberlain who never looked more gorgeous)even more amazing. Not a single miscast here. The performances are phenomenal. This is a movie with that searing edge of forbidden love and the torment of unrequited love combined with a heavy dose of romance, great characters, manipulation, greed, and the progress of a family torn apart by various maladies. The chemistry between the all the characters is so apparent. It is a movie that makes you think and makes you cheer for something that is deliciously guilt-ridden. In case you couldn't tell... I love this movie!!!!!!! This is a guilty pleasure to the highest degree... like the most decadent Godiva chocolate if it could be made in the form of a film. Buy it...keep it... watch it over and over. Perfect for a girls only party or a rainy saturday afternoon. Get some snacks... sit back and know that 8 hours will seem to float by.
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109 of 116 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Unforgettable, Magnificent May 9, 2001
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I first saw this mini series in 1983 when it first aired, I was 13! I watched each subsequent rerun and taped it. Even though I had it on tape I would always watch it again if it's on, like on the Love Stories channel.
In a word, "unforgettable". If you are into romance novels, this is the ultimate romance. Forget the sappy, brainless, shallow Harlequins, this is the real thing. If you are into romance but haven't read this book or seen the movie, you are missing out on something magical. Trust me, buy the book, rent the movie or buy it. You won't regret it.
You won't ever forget it.
The acting is first rate. I disagree with the previous reviewer about Rachel Ward, she does fine, in fact once you watch it you'll want these people to be real. You'll want to visit Drogheda! Barbara Stanwyck is amazing as the vindictive Mary Carson. The birthday party is one of many high points. Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward, Piper Laurie, Christopher Plummer, Mare Winningham, Earl Holliman, Richard Kiley, Jean Simmons, Bryan Brown are all excellent.
The story starts out in 1920's Australia and begins with Paddy Cleary and his family, including the very young Meggie Cleary (played by Sydney Penny of All My Children!) arriving at the Gilley Station, Father Ralph meets them and sees Meggie for the first time. I'll leave it at that. From there, you won't want to get up to go to the bathroom or get a snack until you have to change tapes.
This is, in my opinion, the best mini-series ever on TV by far. The impact of this story was so great that they made a second mini-series in 1996 to satisfy fans. This time, without any of the original actors except Richard Chamberlain. It's not horrible but doesn't have any of the magic of the original.
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60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining, very inexpensive. March 20, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
4.5 stars. There is really only one glaring flaw in this production, and it is that at the end of each section (there are 4 in all) there are snippets of foreshadowing taken from what will happen in the next section that are shown in montage form as a teaser to get the viewers to come back and watch. It made sense when showing it on television to try and sustain the viewers' interest in this way, but on DVD it was a little annoying to see major plot elements revealed before I saw them unfold in due time. I wish that someone would have edited these snippets out for the DVD release. However, that is my only gripe. The story, acting, immense production value, and the romance all combine to create a fine show. The sheer size of this production is impressive, but it is the characters that are eventually the most memorable aspect of the story. It wasn't until the end of the show that I realized I had formed an emotional connection to the characters that transcended the time in which this show was made. I was transported into their world, if only for a short while. It is certainly a journey worth taking. The price for this DVD package is excellent, as well. If you love epic romance stories then "The Thorn Birds" should be in your DVD collection.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Epic Of Unrequited Love October 27, 2002
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
For anyone who has suffered through the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune in love, this 1983 mini-series will touch their hearts like no other film or tv series ever made. The casting was perfect in every way to bring the story of the Australian Cleary family to life so vividly (Jean Simmons as the mother "Fee" won the Emmy Award that year; unfortunately Henry Mancini didn't for his gorgeous musical score, and he deserved to win!). While the main thrust of this story and film appears on the surface to be the love of a Roman Catholic priest for a young girl whom he sees grow into adulthood, the underlying, truly poignant aspect of this story is about the long-term affects of what happens to children when mothers love one child more than another. This theme is the real heart tugger here. Meggie is an afterthought to her mother Fee until the very end of the story (Frank is her favorite child, even though he is troubled, because Frank was the love child of an extra-marital affair), and later on when Meggie becomes a mother Dane is her favorite child (also a product of a clandestine love), and her daughter Justine is the afterthought. It is this basic lack of love that each child feels from his or her mother that determines the choices they make in life (i.e. Meggie choses to love someone who cannot commit to her, Justine choses to avoid love altogether and throw herself into acting to escape reality, Frank goes off and kills a man because he cannot deal with loving his mother too much, Ralph reveals his mother abandoned him early so he too inclines towards a non-committal type of love with Meggie and escapes through the church, etc.) The pattern develops early and continues throughout the lives of the Clearys. Read more ›
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