Mesmer [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - United Kingdom ]
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Screenwriter Dennis Potter and director Roger Spottiswoode collaborate on this biopic about the eighteenth century Viennese physician, Franz Anton Mesmer (played by Alan Rickman), who used unorthodox healing practices based on his theory of 'animal magnetism'. Mesmer's theories were revolutionary, but he was reviled by his contemporaries. Rickman won Best Actor award at the Montreal Film Festival. Music by Michael Nyman.
- Aspect Ratio : 1.33:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Package Dimensions : 7.1 x 5.42 x 0.58 inches; 2.93 Ounces
- Media Format : PAL
- Language : English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
- ASIN : B000HEZ7Q6
- Number of discs : 1
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Top reviews from the United States
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I found this movie to be amazingly filmed, and the acting, especially by Rickman was superb. I cannot think of another actor who can draw your attention and hold it without even having to speak, and then when he does, there is no other voice like it - silky, melodic, and can touch your very soul. Rickman himself is 'mesmerizing.'
The sets and scenes shot for this film are breathtaking, and I believe that this film will captivate anyone who is fascinated in the rise of reason that was taking place in Europe during the 1600s-1700s. What you begin to realize is that Mesmer had truly discovered the power of magnetism, and its potential healing properties on the body. Sadly, this radicalism of thought was in its infancy, and therefore ultimately led to his undoing in a time of bloodletting. This film helps the viewer to see that despite the Enlightenment, there was still a profoundly medieval consensus of thought running through the scientific and medical worlds. The men who spoke of superstition and foolhardy practices being rooted out of their practice could not let go of antiquated harmful treatments themselves. They called Mesmer a charlatan and a fraud because his form of treatment was so unconventional and "perverse" to them, and yet when you see the forms of treatment that the conventional physicans were using at the time, you see the absurdity of their accusations.
I highly reccommend this film. It is beautiful, it is wonderfully acted, and touching. It is also a profoundly enjoyable film that can be watched again and again. I do reccommend though, that you do a bit of research to acquaint yourself with Mesmer. This will help put the film into perspective. It will also make you realize and appreciate what an amazing job Alan Rickman did in portraying this man!
I advise my hypnosis students to avoid watching this film at all costs. A far better depiction of Mesmer and his famous baquettes, although only taking up a small portion of the movie, can be found by watching James Ivory's fabulous film, "Thomas Jefferson in Paris," starring Nick Nolte as Thomas Jefferson (perfect casting; who would've guessed it?!) and featuring a young Gwyneth Paltrow.
Booklet: The Amazing Doctor Mesmer (Hypnosis and Guided Imagery)
Dr. Mesmer did achieve success with his treatment but was ridiculed and ostracized by the medical community. The staid medical establishment of the time did not approve of Mesmer�s oftentimes theatrical performances and excessive showmanship. As a result, Mesmer was condemned by his medical colleagues and forced to leave Vienna. He practiced in Austria, Switzerland and Germany before settling in France.
Mr. Rickman truly captures the charismatic and controversial character of Dr. Mesmer. This film shows how the physician practiced his craft but I felt it didn�t really explain how he developed his technique originally. (In fact, the film has a few unexplained gaps in it.) The movie focuses on two of Mesmer�s patients; one is the cousin of his wife, the other is a gifted musician he encounters at a recital. His wife�s cousin, a young girl, seems hopelessly brain damaged and he never really helps her. The musician is a beautiful young woman (Amanda Ooms) who is blind. Mesmer believes he can cure her blindness and becomes quite taken with her. He discovers that her father has been sexually abusing her since she was a young child. She lost her sight at the age of 3 and Mesmer believes that the abuse is perhaps what caused her blindness. The doctor�s treatment to help her regain her sight seemingly fails until she falls and bumps her head. The impression here is that the fall is what really restores her sight but Mesmer (and the woman) believes he did it. Also highlighted in the movie is Mesmer�s relationship with his wife, which is miserable. They seem to hate one another and I wondered why he married such a shrew in the first place. Another unexplained gap is when Mesmer is shown living in Paris for two years and you don�t know if he is still married or not.
Even with the unexplained gaps this is still a very good movie. It is a must have for the Alan Rickman fan (which I am). I would have given it 5 stars except for the gaps and the ending, which leaves you hanging. After two years, the young woman is brought in to testify against Dr. Mesmer at a hearing. With her sight restored, the musician returned home and, in so doing, returned to her sexually abusive father. She felt abandoned by Mesmer and this, along with her father�s abuse, resulted in the loss of her sight yet again. The movie ends with Mesmer and her just sitting silently together. Maybe I missed something but I just didn�t get the ending. I�ll have to watch the movie again. Still, I do recommend it and perhaps you will find yourself mesmerized by it.
Top reviews from other countries
Mr. Rickman certainly looks the part (let's face it, no one else can wear a cloak and look as tantilisingly mysterious as well as he) but, sadly, he seems to be acting in a different movie to his co-stars who mostly appear to be taking things far less seriously. No doubt intended to give an insight into the work and mind of Franz Anton Mesmer (clearly a 'New Age Healer' ahead of his time), and to show the hypnotic, sensual nature of his treatment and his personal disgust at the medical profession's treatment of patients (we could do with the man now), it sadly fails on almost every count. The portrayal at times is of such ridiculous behaviour (presumably intended to be sensually erotic) as to almost render this film worthy of the comedy genre; certainly some scenes are so over-the-top that they could, if one wasn't trying to be generous-spirited, become laugh-out-loud moments. And, considering the sensitive nature of many of Mesmer's patients' troubles, makes it even more disturbing. It certainly seems to be a film that lost its way, possibly much the same as its 'star' must have done in ever agreeing to do it.
Probably only best viewed by true 'Rickmaniacs' (Alan Rickman fans that is - of which I most definitely count myself), it does this great actor no favours and will, I fear, unfortunately be relegated to join the ranks of films that simply didn't make it. And I stand by that last statement, despite it somehow managing to win various awards at that year's Montreal Film Festival (including Best Actor - bless him, he certainly tried hard enough - for Alan Rickman himself.) I can only assume it was a lean year.