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Gormenghast

3.9 out of 5 stars 145 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Gormenghast (Dbl DVD) (Repackaged)

A charismatically evil kitchen boy threatens the power of a thousand-year-old dynasty in this fantastic presentation of the classic novels by Mervyn Peake.

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Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Christopher Lee, Stephen Fry, Ian Richardson, Zoë Wanamaker
  • Directors: Andy Wilson
  • Writers: Malcolm McKay, Mervyn Peake
  • Producers: Al Burgess, Estelle Daniel, Hilary Salmon, Michael Wearing, Rebecca Eaton
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: Unknown
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: July 11, 2006
  • Run Time: 240 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000GIXLXE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,318 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Gormenghast" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jay Dickson VINE VOICE on June 11, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I've seen this in England, and I can faithfully vouch for the fact that yes, the first two volumes of Mervyn Peake's masterpiece trilogy have finally been accorded their due on the screen. I should start by warning fans of the novels that the Gormenghast realized here is much prettier than you would expect; perhaps the film's producers were worried that a vision of the giant castle and its environs as decayed and yellowed as Peake imagined might be too offputting to anyone but fans of the novels? As a result, Gormenghast is slightly too pretty at times to convey the sense of Gothic dissolution Peake intended: even the campsite of the carvers seems gussied up in pretty green decor. And in the central role of Steerpike Jonathan Rhys-Meyers looks smashing and works hard, but fails to turn in the truly bravura performance the part requires (in part because he lacks tremendous physical presence, despite his sneering beauty).

On the other hand, so much is given to us in this version that it would be churlish to complain. Celia Imrie steals the show as the brutally abstract and terrifyingly towering Countess of Groan: she has both the presence and the ability to play the role. The great Fiona Shaw transforms herself exactly into Peake's sketches of Irma Prunesquallor, and Zoe Wanamaker and Lynsey Baxter do something very original and believable as Titus's half-witted and murderous aunts. The special effects are at times jawdropping, and at times the director allows for the off-kilter camera angles--and yes, even the Gothic atmnosphere otherwise missing--that brings you back to Peake's original vision (the library sequence is particularly smashing). This is the kind of adaptation that, even with its few flaws, one would never have dared hope to have seen.
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Format: DVD
I first heard about Gormenghast when I was watching Red Dwarf on BBC America. During the commercials, they played a long trailer which showed elaborate costumes, interesting backgrounds (some obviously computer generated), and an odd assortment of characters. I got the impression that it was some sort of fairy tale. Best of all, it boasted two of my favorite actors, Christopher Lee and Stephen Fry.
The show came on every Saturday, and I watched each hour or so segment every week. The story revolves around an old castle called Gormenghast. The people themselves are born into caste systems, and adhere to the strict rules and rituals of the Kingdom. Nothing changes; the culture won't let it. That is, until Steerpike, a young kitchen hand, grows tired of the kitchen life and denounces his caste. His goal, to seek for better things, and for him better things can only mean greater power.
Now, after the reading the books, I was all the more impresed with the BBC rendition. While the series had to cut out a lot of scenes, as the trilogy itself is huge, they were very prudent with their cuts. While they couldn't capture the absurdity and creative flair in its entirety, they also didn't rehash Mervyn Peake (the author's) tendency towards pointless, self-indulgent waste (i.e. cliche romance scenes/dialogue), and occasional repitition (i.e. conversations and thoughts of characters). However, the acting was superb, the costumes elegant, and the plot as unique as ever. Above all is Jonathan Rhys-Meyer (Steerpike), and Christopher Lee (Flay). Also, Zoe Wanamaker and Lynsey Baxter did a superb job playing the mad twin sisters(and stroke victims) Cora and Clarice Groan. Gormenghast runs miles around anything America produces (i.e. Noah's Ark, The Tenth Kingdom), and deserves, despite its minor flaws (even those from nitpicky Peake fans), nothing short of 5 stars.
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Format: DVD
"Gormenghast" is an odd series, a little too odd at first glance. I have never read the books, and didn't even know that a "Gormenghast" series existed when I watched it. I just thought it looked like an interesting fantasy series, so I gave it a try.
It was very surprising, and I had to watch the first episode twice before I got a feel for the series and could get captivated by its peculiar meter and character. However, when you get sucked in it is as complete a world as "Labyrinth," "Legend" or any other such darkly gothic fairy tale kingdoms. The endless rituals, the conflicting costumes, the affected accents and speeches all combine to create a disturbing reality of crumbling decadence and a society that has run its course, aching for change and new blood.
The amazing actors in this series, many with an impressive fantasy film pedigree, are what pull you in, and force you to believe in the topsy-turvy kingdom. Christopher Lee ("Lord of the Rings"/"Star Wars"/"Dracula"/Too many to name...) brings you home right away as the brutish but loyal Flay. It is interesting to see him play such a sympathetic and nobel character, after watching him is so many villain roles. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers ("Bend it Like Beckam," "Titus") is perfect as the charming anarchist Steerpike. who plays a necessary role as a bloody catalyst for change. Zoe Wanamaker ("Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone") and her sister Lynsey Baxter play the bizarre twins perfectly, with an unsettling atmosphere each time they are on screen. Ian Richardson, who comes with an impressive Shakespear resume, portrays the descent into madness of the Earl of Gormenghast, as crumbling as his realm.
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