The Magnificent Ambersons
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
James Cromwell, Bruce Greenwood, Jennifer Tilly. A magnificent remake of Orson Welles' timeless tale of pride and jealousy among the prominent family of a Midwestern town at the turn of the 20th century. Directed by Alfonso Arau ( Like Water for Chocolate ). 2002/color/150 min/NR/fullscreen.
Alfonso Arau's handsome The Magnificent Ambersons, based on Orson Welles's original screenplay, is a brave attempt to restore the dramatic scenes lost when RKO radically recut Welles's magnificent 1941 masterpiece, but it's less a remake than a new take on the material. Bruce Greenwood makes a gracious and sincere Eugene Morgan, the inventor who woos heiress Isabel Amberson (a vibrant Madeleine Stowe) and finds his rival is her spoiled, arrogant son, George (played with sneering, bug-eyed intensity by Jonathan Rhys Meyers). It hits a few sour notes (notably Meyers and a terribly miscast Jennifer Tilly as the jealous Aunt Fanny), but the "new" scenes explore the sprawl of the city, the falling fortunes of the Amberson dynasty, and the almost incestuous intimacy between mother and son only hinted at in Welles's compromised version. It may lack the grand design and cinematic grace of Welles, but it creates its own gentle take on Booth Tarkington's turbulent novel. --Sean Axmaker
- Behind-the-scenes featurette
- Orson Welles biography/filmography
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Thinking through things as I write this review, I blame the director. He clearly made choices to forego subtlety in other aspects of the film (the incestuous aspect of the mother and son, as well as some less intrusive matters like dance, for example). The tangled emotions between the unhappily married mother and her only son did not require a physical component for the modern audience to "get" that these 2 had issues and that "boundaries" were first among them. The dignified performances by James Cromwell, Bruce Greenwood, and Madeleine Stowe (except in scenes with the son) possess an appropriate, understated dignity that is jarringly absent in the 2 problematic performances. I have to think that the director didn't exercise proper control because the performance excesses fit within his vision. That's unfortunate. I could have been a fine film.
A&E are masters at providing classic entertainment adapted from long-forgotten book masterpieces (i.e. Horatio Hornblower series), but this lagging, dragging, mess of a miniseries feels like it should NOT have been tackled because of the numerous half-stepped jobs most of the cast gave. There are some very fine actors in this (James Cromwell, Bruce Greenwood, William Hootkins, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Madeleine Stowe), but only Hootkins (as Uncle George Amberson) seems to really grasp the idea of Tarkington's idea of privileged, American gentility being pushed aside for self-made men and women.
I've seen the majority of Jonathan Rhys Meyers's work (and am a great admirer of him in most of it), but I have to say his take on George Amberson Minafer is grating. Yes, Georgie is a snob, a self-proclaimed "right sort of fellow," but there is a disconnect with the viewer. I know I'm supposed to dislike Georgie but somehow JRM's portrayal falls short (and it's not just because of the accent-although he's Irish, JRM can do a fine American, British, even a Welsh accent!). His finest moment may have come with the stare down with Greenwood's Eugene Morgan. Those blue eyes really do bore holes into your soul.
Jennifer Tilly's Aunt Fanny Minafer is not even worth a mention except to say that she and Stowe's Isabelle Amberson Minafer don't seem to age even though there's a 22 year range in the series. James Cromwell provides a welcome relief to all of the hysterics when he's on screen (but that only happens for about 15 min. in the entire, bloated film!), and Gretchen Mol can emote more than just pasting a smile on her face (see her in THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAIGE for proof).
Director Arau plays up this Oedipal-like idea between Georgie and Isabelle, but that is NOT evidenced in the novel. His ideas are just wrong and "fluff-filler" for most of the film (the opening sequence of the Tango as an example; the Tango wasn't introduced to the US until 1912, and it didn't come from Europe, but from Argentina-hence the name: Argentine Tango...small things like this added nothing to TMA2).
For such a fine cast, compelling material, and a relatively large budget, TMA2 fails to make its mark. 2 stars (the costumes were lovely and authentic looking).