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235 of 245 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Could Probably Recite the Dialogue by Heart
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...
Published on July 8, 2002 by Raquel L. Brassfield

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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A flawed DVD release by Warner
The fact that this set contains two double-sided discs makes playback inconvenient for those of us with DVD changers. On my particular set, the sides are mislabeled on disc two, adding to the inconvenience.

The program content on both sides of both discs is marred by trailers (narrated in bombastic style by ABC's voice of the 70s and early 80s) which fill up...
Published on August 31, 2004 by mightier


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235 of 245 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Could Probably Recite the Dialogue by Heart, July 8, 2002
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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119 of 126 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Unforgettable, Magnificent, May 9, 2001
By A Customer
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. Even with that, you'll want to see "The Thorn Birds: The Missing Years" after you've watched the original.
Disregard the two reviews by the "Aussie's". They are completely off base and misinformed. First, the movie was filmed in AUSTRALIA, not OREGON. I live in Oregon and no where in Oregon looks like that. I remember reading that it was indeed filmed in Australia. Second, the accents are fine. Third, no Aussie actors? Bryan Brown anyone?
The Thorn Birds is unforgettable. Take a rainy Saturday and watch it alone. The day will go by so fast, it will be dark when it ends and you won't have noticed but you'll have a big smile on your face and tears in your eyes at the end, if only because it is the end of the story.
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66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining, very inexpensive., March 20, 2005
By 
D. Knouse (vancouver, washington United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Thorn Birds (DVD)
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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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Epic Of Unrequited Love, October 27, 2002
By A Customer
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. That is why, to me, the most profoundly moving scenes in this entire series are right near the end: 1) when the old Fee has to tell Meggie that her son Dane has died, and she caresses Meggie's face for the first time in both their lives, and 2) the scene in the stable barn, between Meggie and Justine, as they confront the truth: that Meggie does love Justine, but Dane WAS the favorite child, for reasons beyond Justine's control. In hugging Fee and crying in grief, and in resolving her differences with Justine, Meggie finally finds the peace she needs in life; she is then able to let go of Ralph when the inevitable takes him from her for good.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Without a doubt, the BEST Mini-series EVER!, September 30, 2000
Richard Chamberlain never had a better role than that of Ralph de Bricassart. Rachel Ward is beautiful and alluring as Meggie. Richard Kiley has a quiet strength as Paddy and Jean Simmons is superb as his wife "Fee." Bryan Brown's is aggressive and memorable as Luke O'Neill, the archetypical Australian sheep man. The remaining cast members, including Christopher Plummer, Piper Laurie, Earl Holliman, and Mare Winningham are exemplary as they bring to life the pages of McCullough's best-selling novel.
However, the movie belongs to Barbara Stanwyck. Although the character of Mary Carson dies early in the production, the scenes in which Stanwyck appears are stunning in their execution. As a "woman of years" pining over the younger de Bricassart, Stanwyck's Carson has that would be her last great one. Her Emmy-winning performance is magnificent.
Not a miniseries before or since can match the total perfection of this one.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting love story, September 14, 2002
By A Customer
I love this miniseries, and I saw it before I read the book. I think they are pretty different, though. For example, I loved Ralph's character in the movie and in the book, but I think he seems like a totally different person in each. In the book, Ralph is an arrogant, unscrupulous man who is a priest because he wants to BE God, not because he wants to be a good shepherd to his needy parishioners. His redeeming quality is his capacity to be so moved by a little girl, and to be so in love with one woman his whole life. He is wonderful with Meggie, but he is surprisingly insensitive to others. Richard Chamberlain portrays a much more holy, benevolent priest in the miniseries. When he accepts Mary Carson's new will, it is a little incongruous; doesn't seem to fit in with the movie Ralph's character as well as it does with the book Ralph's.
In the book, when Ralph seeks out Meggie on Matlock island, he surrenders to the ...passion unwillingly because it forces him to realize he's not God, he's only a man. In the movie, Ralph deliberately gets together with Meggie after his Cardinal friend tells him he has to decide between her and the church.
There are lots of other differences. To me, one of the most beautiful scenes in all of movie history is the Gigi-like scene when Meggie descends down the stairs of Drogheda at Mary Carson's party and Ralph is forced to see her as a woman for the first time. It is so poignant the way he gazes at her, trying to pretend he's talking to the people at the party, occasional glimpses of tragic frustration on his face. That scene isn't in the book. The musical score is painfully moving and adds another dimension to the miniseries. They're both wonderful, but different.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HAUNTING, SENSUAL, EPIC, September 25, 2004
This review is from: The Thorn Birds (DVD)
I absolutely cherish this film ( and to the younger viewers- dont be afraid- I was only 3 when it first aired ) Richard Chamberlin is haunting and beautiful. He embraced this role like nothing I have ever seen.

This story plays on emotions you never knew you had, and expresses beautifully how tragic love ( in its many forms ) can be. This is one of the best stories ever told, and I have never seen a movie capture the art of story telling so well. Henry Mancini's score is haunting and perfect and strikes the core of your heart. The scenes between Sydney Penny as young Meggie and Richard Chamberlin are precious, and those between Rachel Ward as a grown Meggie and Chamberlin are electric.

Richard Kiley is heartbreaking as Paddy, and B. Stanwyck is both chilling and tragic as the complicated Mary Carson.

You will feel for these characters, you will believe them and you will be haunted and touched by this epic story of love in its truest form.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Painfully captivating, and how we love it., July 28, 1999
By A Customer
Father Ralph de Bricassart did not just play with the love and affections of "his Meggie", but with those of all of us who are mesmerized by this tragic love story. Was it unrequited love or was it unfulfilled love? This devilish saga left a familiar ache in my own heart for quite some time. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment, but I will watch it again and again.
Richard Chamberlain's acting talents were on full display in The Thorn Birds. I have not seen any other actor with the range of expression he gave in this performance. The most amazing was the almost imperceptible flicker of a repressed smile when he learned that Mary Carson had bequeathed her entire vast estate to the Catholic church.
Chamberlain was dashingly masculine, devastatingly handsome and tantalizingly sexy. He perfectly portrayed an intelligent, warm, loving, affectionate, passionate, alive, good and honest man struggling with his love for God, his vows made before that God to the Catholic church and his consuming love for a woman. It was easy for me to fall in love with Fr. Ralph de Bricassart and oh so difficult to hate him for even one moment.
One sees in this film the classic struggle of competition that occurs in so many love relationships. Male ambition vs. a woman's need for the love and devotion of a man. Ralph deeply loved God, passionately loved Meggie and was also inextricably drawn into the temptation of hierarchical ambition.
The decision for me would have been easy. Leave the Roman Catholic Church, love and serve God, love and serve Meggie and live happily ever after. As they saying goes though, I've never walked in the shoes of a Catholic priest. I'm not even Catholic, so this struggle is something I cannot even comprehend. Anyway, it is this struggle that captivates us all.
Ralph's final confession was that he never really surrendered to love. He half-loved Meggie and He half-loved God. I think he was half-right. He fully loved God and fully loved Meggie but could never reconcile the two in his heart, and God is a seductive lover.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A flawed DVD release by Warner, August 31, 2004
This review is from: The Thorn Birds (DVD)
The fact that this set contains two double-sided discs makes playback inconvenient for those of us with DVD changers. On my particular set, the sides are mislabeled on disc two, adding to the inconvenience.

The program content on both sides of both discs is marred by trailers (narrated in bombastic style by ABC's voice of the 70s and early 80s) which fill up the first HALF of chapter one. That's right; the only way to bypass these spoilers is to skip to chapter two then rewind half a chapter.

UPDATE: On June 28, 2011 Warner re-released this title on three single-sided discs. The program content is the same; however, the bit rate for Episode 1 is reduced in the 2011 release.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Playing With Morals, Outback And Down Under, December 23, 2004
By 
Dean Anderson (New York, New York) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Thorn Birds (DVD)
ABC (but perhaps more accurately, David Wolper) set the standard for the Miniseries, or "novels for television" in the mid 1970s through the 80s. First "Rich Man, Poor Man," which launched the genre in 1976, then the blockbuster epic "Roots" the following year, and then this next major event: Colleen McCullough's best seller, "The Thorn Birds," which first aired in 1983.

All of the key elements are there: a sweeping story set in an intriguing locale (in this case, a rural area farm in Australia), and an emotional topic (in this case, variations of unrequited love).

It begins with a parish priest named Father Ralph, who is doted upon by the old woman who owns the sheep farm, run by a working class family. Barbara Stanwyck gives one of her final and one of her best scenery-chewing performances here, as the boss lady who forces her quarry to make a tough choice, and Richard Chamberlain matches her as the priest who finds his own special treasure, the young daughter of the farm's caretakers, Meggie, (played by child actor Sydney Penny).

As Meggie grows, so does Father Ralph's ambition, and his ascent towards the upper ranks of the Catholic Church begins, just as his descent into his feelings for the now adult Meggie (Rachel Ward) also happens.

With a stellar cast and such earth shattering subject matter as breaking vows of celibacy, the grasp for power, true love v. true vocation and the agony and dilemma of dealing with the choices one makes along the path of life, through love and loss, there's plenty of ground to cover, from the dirt roads of an Outback farm to the glittering brilliance of the Holy See.

In addition to the miniseries itself, you get one important extra here: a look back on the landmark television event by the principal players in the project titled "The Thorn Birds: Old Friends, New Stories," a documentary shot in 2003.

This short film features Exec. Producer David Wolper, Chamberlain, Ward, and her husband that she met on the set, Bryan Brown (the only Aussie working on the project!) all chatting merrily about the events surrounding the filming. Some very amusing behind-the-scenes stories are told here that must be seen!

But really, it's all about the tear-jerking tale with a score by the legendary Henry Mancini, one of the most chest-clutching romantic classics in TV history!

Highly recommended.
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The Thorn Birds by Various (DVD - 2011)
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