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A History of Violence (New Line Platinum Series) [DVD]

3.7 out of 5 stars 717 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

History of Violence, A (DVD) (WS)

In this stylized thriller from director David Cronenberg, Viggo Mortensen stars as Tom McKenna, a well-respected man who leads a quiet, charmed life with his loving wife and family in a small town. But when he kills a robber in self-defense at the diner he runs, Tom is lauded by the national media as a vigilante hero. Unfortunately, the media spotlight also brings him to the attention of some sleazy criminals who recognize Tom as a former associate gone underground. Now, to protect his family from certain peril, Tom must return to his secret past and confront A History of Violence. Also starring Maria Bello, Ed Harris and William Hurt.

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On the surface, David Cronenberg may seem an unlikely candidate to direct A History of Violence, but dig deeper and you'll see that he's the right man for the job. As an intellectual seeker of meaning and an avowed believer in Darwinian survival of the fittest, Cronenberg knows that the story of mild-mannered small-town diner proprietor Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) is in fact a multilayered examination of inbred human behavior, beginning when Tom's skillful killing of two would-be robbers draws unwanted attention to his idyllic family life in rural Indiana. He's got a loving wife (Maria Bello) and young daughter (Heidi Hayes) who are about to learn things about Tom they hadn't suspected, and a teenage son (Ashton Holmes) who has inherited his father's most prominent survival trait, manifesting itself in ways he never expected. By the time Tom has come into contact with a scarred villain (Ed Harris) and connections that lead him to a half-crazy kingpin (William Hurt, in a spectacular cameo), Cronenberg has plumbed the dark depths of human nature so skillfully that A History of Violence stands well above the graphic novel that inspired it (indeed, Cronenberg was unaware of the source material behind Josh Olson's chilling adaptation). With hard-hitting violence that's as sudden as it is graphically authentic, this is A History of Violence that's worthy of serious study and widespread acclaim. --Jeff Shannon

On the DVD
On a single disc and with little fanfare, this DVD makes an excellent case for the best extras of the year. Dive into the one-hour-long documentary and learn more about moviemaking than on many a double-disc. The secret lies in director David Cronenberg's (and his usual crew) folksy casualness in showing off the craft, be it makeup (green screens were used), directing (Cronenberg doesn't storyboard), or art direction (the diner set). It also is very funny to hear about "fish Fridays" and how Maria Bello's Uncle Pete became an influence. Even the infamous sex-on-the-staircase scene is diagnosed with candor as stars Viggo Mortensen and Bello act as if there is no backstage camera. There's only one deleted scene, but it's uncommonly deconstructed on why it was filmed and why it was cut (it's a very Cronenbergian dream sequence). A short bit on Cannes is also a delight. So much is here that Cronenberg's smart commentary track is nearly superfluous. Isn't that a nice surprise? --Doug Thomas

More to Explore


The Graphic Novel


Other Graphic Novels that Inspired Movies


David Cronenberg Essentials


Why We Love Maria Bello


The work of Viggo Mortensen


The work of William Hurt

Stills from A History of Violence


Viggo Mortensoe as Tom Stall

Ashton Holmes as Jack Stall and Kyle Schmid as Bobby Jordan

William Hurt as Richie Cusack

Ed Harris as Carl Fogarty and Viggo Mortensen as Tom Stall

Maria Bello as Edie Stall

Director David Cronenberg


Special Features

Audio Commentary: Director David Cronenberg Commentary Deleted Scenes: Deleted scene w/director commentary Documentary: "Acts of Violence" documentary Featurette: "The Unmakeing of Scene 44" "Violence's History: U.S. vs. International Versions" "Too Commercial for Cannes"Audio Commentary: Director David Cronenberg Commentary Deleted Scenes: Deleted scene w/director commentary Documentary: "Acts of Violence" documentary Featurette: "The Unmakeing of Scene 44" "Violence's History: U.S. vs. International Versions" "Too Commercial for Cannes"Audio Commentary: Director David Cronenberg Commentary Deleted Scenes: Deleted scene w/director commentary Documentary: "Acts of Violence" documentary Featurette: "The Unmakeing of Scene 44" "Violence's History: U.S. vs. International Versions" "Too Commercial for Cannes"Audio Commentary: Director David Cronenberg Commentary Deleted Scenes: Deleted scene w/director commentary Documentary: "Acts of Violence" documentary Featurette: "The Unmakeing of Scene 44" "Violence's History: U.S. vs. International Versions" "Too Commercial for Cannes"Audio Commentary: Director David Cronenberg Commentary Deleted Scenes: Deleted scene w/director commentary Documentary: "Acts of Violence" documentary Featurette: "The Unmakeing of Scene 44" "Violence's History: U.S. vs. International Versions" "Too Commercial for Cannes"Audio Commentary: Director David Cronenberg Commentary Deleted Scenes: Deleted scene w/director commentary Documentary: "Acts of Violence" documentary Featurette: "The Unmakeing of Scene 44" "Violence's History: U.S. vs. International Versions" "Too Commercial for Cannes"Audio Commentary: Director David Cronenberg Commentary Deleted Scenes: Deleted scene w/director commentary Documentary: "Acts of Violence" documentary Featurette: "The Unmakeing of Scene 44" "Violence's History: U.S. vs. International Versions" "Too Commercial for Cannes"Audio Commentary: Director David Cronenberg Commentary Deleted Scenes: Deleted scene w/director commentary Documentary: "Acts of Violence" documentary Featurette: "The Unmakeing of Scene 44" "Violence's History: U.S. vs. International Versions" "Too Commercial for Cannes"

Product Details

  • Actors: Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, William Hurt, Ed Harris, Ashton Holmes
  • Directors: David Cronenberg
  • Writers: Josh Olson
  • Producers: Chris Bender, Toby Emmerich, J.C. Spink, Justis Greene, Kent Alterman
  • Format: Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • 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:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: New Line Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 14, 2006
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (717 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000CQLZ0Q
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,276 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "A History of Violence (New Line Platinum Series) [DVD]" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mr. Joe TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 3, 2005
Not since STRAW DOGS (1971) have I seen a film that so strikingly makes the point that the capacity for violence is an inseparable part of the human condition. Even the meek inheriting the Earth have it - if pushed far enough.

Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) and wife Edie (Maria Bello) live in a small mid-western town with teenage son Jack (Ashton Holmes) and young daughter Sarah (Heidi Hayes). The couple own, and Tom manages, a diner on Main Street. One night at closing, two psychopathic killers enter the eatery to rob the place and have some bloody fun. (We know they're psychopaths because the film's opening sequence shows them brutally murdering a family that owns a roadside motel.) As his waitress is about to be raped, Tom reacts in a way that would make Dirty Harry proud. The killers are rendered dead in pools of blood, coffee, and broken glass, and Tom, with his foot impaled by a knife, becomes a local hero that makes the national TV news. However, this notoriety draws out of the woodwork a scarred, Mafia hit man from Philadelphia, Carl Fogarty (Ed Harris), and a pair of associate thugs. Carl insists to Tom and Edie that the former is really Joey Cusack, a big city killer that tried to take out Carl's left eye with barbed wire. Tom, of course, denies that he's ever been to Philly. Edie believes her husband. At least she does until witnessing his reaction when Fogarty et al confront Tom on their front lawn after they kidnap Jack. Maybe Hubby has secrets, you think?

At first, the audience believes that son Jack is a spineless wimp - until he's pushed too far in the hallway of his high school by a bully that's been tormenting him. (Is there an inheritable gene for mayhem, you might ask.) From all of us who've had sand kicked in our faces, way to go, kid!
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Format: DVD
So much has been written about this film and the title. For most, the movie is about the way violence is encoded in our lives and how we all have an underlying current running through us. I think the movie is really the study of the relationship between the two main characters--Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) and Edie (Maria Bello).

These two actors are amazing the film, especially Bello, who deserves to become a household name. Their intereactions are always spot on as they drive the plot. The sideways glance, the tense look, the loving smile: every part means something.

These two characters are madly in love after seventeen or such years of marriage, and we see it through different ways. The first half of the movie is there to set up their relationship and the love they feel. But then everything is turned upside down, and we realize that these two people who have shared everything and love one another dearly really know nothing about what lies beneath. It's as if they have only shared a part of themselves.

It's this interaction and realization that makes the film so great. The plot almost seems beside the point; it's merely there to make use see the characters.

I give the film four stars instead of five because of some of the scenes were out of place, almost as if Cronenberg couldn't decide what kind of film to make. William Hurt is good at the end, for instance, but his character didn't fit. Watch the movie for the main characters' interactions and go along with the rest.
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Director David Cronenberg's movies glisten with a surface sheen that is always perfect. His mise en scene is often pathologically devoid of human connection or touch, though his films are always thought provoking and often scandalous in their grasp of the detritus of our lives. Is there any more beautiful movie than "Dead Ringers?" Any movie as scandalous, off-putting yet compelling as "Crash?" (the version with Rosanna Arquette and Holly Hunter).
In his terrific new film, "A History of Violence" Cronenberg has it both ways: his film features a straight forward plot that he handles with just a slight out-of-kilter quality that adds crunch and bite to the story of a man, Tom Stall (the quintessential strong silent, Gary Cooper-type, Viggo Mortensen) who, when placed in a situation that requires swift and brutal force...vomits out the internal fortitude necessary from deep inside his psyche and bowels to come up with the goods to deal with the situation. "AHOV" then, is about violence, brutality and the far reaching and ever telescoping tentacles that both exhibit as they wreak havoc on Tom, his wife Edie (the luminous Maria Bello) and his family and friends.
Cronenberg is dealing with some lofty and controversial ideas here: Kill someone and forever pay the price for that murder, whether or not the crime is justified or not. Commit violence and that violence colors everything that you are, everything that you do for the rest of your life. Once you take someone's life how much of you, the essence, the soul, the heart of you is gone also?
Viggo Mortensen's Tom Stall is strong of mind and morals, tender, vulnerable, upstanding but ultimately conflicted. Mortensen turns in a shaded performance that not only shows up Tom's soft side but also his malevolent one as well.
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