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Showing 1-10 of 42 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 55 reviews
on March 12, 2009
After enjoying this DVD set, I was inspired to read the book, which I had not done since high school. As I read, I compared the scenes in the book and the movie. This production sticks more closely to the book than any other movie/mini-series based on a book that I have ever scene. Of course, they could not fit the entire book into the time alloted, but they missed very, very little. Generally speaking, the scenes from the book were in the movie, but they were abbreviated with less detail and shortened dialogue. What's missing? The movie never makes the connection between Miss. Pross and Barsad, wich isn't very important. I missed seeing Little Lucie's attachment to Sydney Carton, which could have been slipped in quickly and easily. The only additions to the story not found in the book were done to explain things to the viewer. One character would explain something to another character which Dickens related to the reader in his narration. The movie did show Sydney Carton outside the church in distress while Darnay married Lucie. This was a nice touch; Dickens should have thought of this. Much of the dialogue comes straight out of the book.

Many of the actors do a superb job. James Wilby portrays Sydney Carton to perfection. In order to fully appreciate his performance one has to be familiar with his performances in other movies to see how he has altered himself for this role. More than just his hair color was changed. His voice is different, his posture slouches, he walks ploddingly. It's just amazing to see this normally elegant actor turn himself into a frumpy mess. John Mills is 100% perfect as Jarvis Lorry. He is completely convincing right down to his bad wig. The casting of characters like Monsieur DeFarge, Miss. Pross, Barsad, the little seamstress, Jerry Cruncher, the woodcutter, etc. are just right. Even the exras in crowd scenes have the right look. The citizens of London look British, and the extras in the Paris mob scenes look French.

It's a complicated story, so the viewer must pay attention, particularly a viewer who is unfamiliar with the book, but it's a great and moving story. Every time I watch it I want to tell Sydney Carton not to do it. He's one of the greatest characters in English literature, and he's brought to life in this production.
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on March 11, 2005
This film version of A Tale of Two Cities is a masterpiece -- it faithful adapts Dickens' classic novel while holding out as a worthwhile movie in its own right through incredible performances from its lead actors. The plot of the novel has not been touched -- in filming Dickens' most tightly-plotted novel, a good decision. The acting is uncommonly good. Sydney Carton is fabulously done; James Wilby is to be commended for a wonderful and nuanced performance. I also found Madame Defarge particularly well-done; the actress playing her is SCARY! Considering Mme. Defarge's character in the book, I think her almost insane bitterness and sharp purpose is well-portrayed.

A couple of unique things about this film include its use of French actors to play French characters and British actors to play British characters. No contrived accents, and people actually look their nationality -- both important in such a highly political story. I also strongly support the decision to have Carton and Darnay played by different people; yes, they're supposed to look alike, but not identical. And having different actors play them facilitates the portrayal of their very contrasted characters.

I am admittedly coming from the perspective of one who read and loved the book years before seeing the movie; I can't judge what this film would be like to someone who has never read the novel. But I found it an accurate and sensitive adaptation of the book I know and love, and I imagine that the beauty of the story would appeal just as easily to someone experiencing the story for the first time.
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on April 28, 2017
Excellent
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on June 21, 2007
Within my admittedly limited experience, Masterpiece Theater dramatizations of great books are well produced and faithful to the original. This is no exception.

Well, Dickens's famous opening lines, "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times," etc. do not come at the beginning of the production but are inserted into a monologue by Sydney Carton shortly after the start of the second DVD. Otherwise, the plot, details, and characters seem much the same as I remember from when I last read the book several years ago.

My wife and I bought this set to help a young friend who is close to graduating from high school at a public school and therefore has problems with reading comprehension. We are well satisfied that she can watch this, then read, and perhaps profit in several ways.

Anyone looking for dazzling FX and computer-generated panoramics will be disappointed. This was made on a budget for television in 1989.

Otherwise, it is a capable -- sometimes very good -- and certainly a moving production. I think Dickens would have approved.
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on March 5, 2003
Never have the noble humanities and horrible dehumanization been revealed to such extremes as in Dickens' "A Tale Of Two Cities". Just exactly to what extreme the human hatred could go, just exactly to what extreme the human love could go, and just exactly to what extreme the human sacrifice could go, you will get answers from this novel.
It tells ineffably touching stories of love and sacrifice, striking stories of hatred and revenge, in the turmoil of French Revolution. This was the time that hunger would drive poor people to sip the wine spilled on the street stones, this was the time that an innocent man (Dr. Manette, Lucie's father) was imprisoned in the Bastille for eighteen years not for any crimes but for saving people's lives, this was the time that conscience made a noble person (Charles Darnay) to relinquish his aristocratic title and pursue life of simplicity and dignity, this was the time that a gentleman (Charles Darnay) would take the risk his own life to save the life of his servant, and this was the time that a young man (Sydney Carton) would take another man's place on the guillotine and realize his promise to his beloved (Lucie), to whom he treasured as "the last dream of my soul"......
This Masterpiece Theatre miniseries did a fairly good job in crafting the stories, although less successfully in bringing out the grandeur of the Revolution. But thanks to the wonderful actors and actresses, their brilliant acting has, to some extent, made up the weaknesses. Sydney Carton is a fascinating character. Young actor James Wilby has excellently sustained Carton's emotional complexities: his cynicism, his indifference, his impulsive yearning for life, and his devoted love to Lucie. Carton, who is Darnay's lookalike and bears the same great affection towards Lucie, is, however, Darnay's inner alter ego. In contrast with Darnay's ideal, Carton is real, and, when fleshed out by James Wilby with immense delicacies, this is the character that couldn't be more captivating. Most of the other characters are also well rendered, with maybe a weak line with Madame Defarge, whose hatred and thirsty for revenge is somewhat stiffly and superficially depicted.
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"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known", the drama ended with Carton walking towards the axe, while Lucie, Darnay, and their daughter riding towards their safe home. This is a most heroic and epic moment, a moment of glory in the midst of grief, and a moment of eternity in the midst of extermination.
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on June 15, 2017
Okay film....a little disappointing
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on April 5, 2013
I thought that this story and movie version aptly depicted the insanity of the French revolution. The movie was richly cast with a lot of heavy weights from the UK and France and it is easily the strength of this film with very notable performances from James Wilby (Sydney Carton) Jean-Pierre Aumont (Dr. Alexandre Manette) and Kathy Kriegel (Madame Defarge) The whole cast was just outstanding that helped deliver this powerful story.
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on December 15, 2013
The part of Carton is well played. It is tempting for the director to use one actor for the "look alikes", Carton and Darnay; I appreciate the use of two different actors. Unfortunately, Lucy Manette comes across as somewhat lacking in personality. She and Charles Darnay both seem to me lacking credibility - too 'sweet' and bland for the 2-DVD length of this movie.
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on February 11, 2008
A classic novel can have strong characters, elegant English, deep philosophy, a good historical setting, engaging dialogue or a gripping plot. A Tale of Two Cities has all six, and has them in abundance! It's the 19th century's "crème de la crème" and suffers few rivals. It is a far, far better novel than any I've ever read. For this reason, no screen adaptation will ever do justice to the original words as set on paper or narrated on CD.

That said, Arthur Hopcraft & Philippe Monnier have done an outstanding job. France's history has always held a fascination for me personally. By the age of 21, I'd TWICE spent Bastille Day in France. Even back home in Ireland I vividly recall July 1989 when "Revolution Fever" was in the air. What excellent timing to coincide this film's release with the bi-centenary of the storming of the Bastille! Among the acclaimed cast is the irreplaceable John Mills. Having stolen the show as Pip in the 1945 "Great Expectations", he turns up 44 years later only to excel himself again - this time as the learned banker Jarvis Laurie. Other lead roles are played by Xavier Deluc (Charles Darnay), James Wilby (Sydney Carton), Serena Gordon (Lucie Manette), Jean-Pierre Aumont (Alex Manette) and Kathie Kriegel (Therese Defarge).

So bake a little garlic bread, crack open your best Rhone Valley Shiraz, then put your feet up for three-and-a-half hours of sheer entertainment pleasure. It's impossible to over-recommend this movie.
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on October 22, 2012
Perhaps the problem was that I watched this immediately after rereading the novel, but I didn't feel that this video captured much of the power of Dickens' work, although there were a couple of places (in particular near the end) where the plot alone was enough to carry the film. I didn't really find any of the actors convincing (with the possible exception of Miss Pross), and the production definitely felt low-budget. The mob scenes in Paris were especially weak. The Reign of Terror looked about as menacing as a group of suburban soccer moms in costume.
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