Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Toby Stephens’

I’ve just got back from a week’s holiday near Stratford upon Avon. While staying there, I was lucky enough to see two excellent RSC productions, of The Winter’s Tale and As You Like It – and, keeping up the Shakespearean theme, also watched a DVD of Trevor Nunn’s movie of Twelfth Night.  This must be one of my favourites out of the modern films of Shakespeare that I’ve seen, and it would be interesting to know how much is taken from Nunn’s stage productions.

Nunn’s version of Illyria looks visually sumptuous, with turbulent Cornish seascapes and beautiful countryside, while the costumes seem vaguely Victorian rather than Elizabethan. The music, by Sean Davey, adds to the haunting atmosphere. I was surprised at the way the film starts with the play’s “back story”, of the shipwreck – and the startling glimpse of Steven Mackintosh as Sebastian and Imogen Stubbs as Viola both dressed as women, taking part in an on-board entertainment. This seems to have been included to emphasise the play’s element of cross-dressing and to balance against the scene near the end where the two are seen both dressed identically as men.

(more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I was tempted to watch this atmospheric adaptation of Alexander Pushkin’s early 19th-century verse novel because of the fine cast, headed by Ralph Fiennes as world-weary aristocrat Eugene Onegin, Liv Tyler as the heroine, country girl Tatyana, and Toby Stephens as Onegin’s idealistic friend Vladimir Lensky.

Onegin1However, fine as the actors are, I think in the end it will be the stunning scenery, the cinematography (by historical drama expert Remi Adefarasin) and above all the snow that stay with me from this production.  Recently I watched the BBC mini-series The Impressionists, which uses slightly blurred colours to make its landscapes look uncannily like the paintings. This feature film often has the same kind of visual effect, slightly blurring and fading to create a haunting, dream-like impression.

The film is something of a Fiennes family project, with Martha Fiennes directing, her brother Ralph doubling as the star and the executive producer, and another brother, Magnus, having composed the haunting music, which nonetheless sounds very Russian to me. The blend of music and scenery reminded me of David Lean’s Dr Zhivago (1965), though I don’t think there are any balalaikas. I don’t know anything much about the screenwriter, Peter Ettedgui, but see from the imdb that he also scripted Vigo (1998), which is another tragic story, tracing the brief life of French film-maker Jean Vigo.

The film opens with a weary Onegin travelling through the Russian countryside after leaving St Petersburg to go to the deathbed of his uncle, a country aristocrat. His sophisticated lifestyle in St Petersburg, an endless succession of opera visits and affairs, is suggested in flashback, before he arrives in the bleak countryside – where he inherits the estate and meets Lensky, forming an instant friendship.

I should warn that I’m about to give away the whole plot of the film as I can’t really discuss it further without doing so – I don’t usually worry too much about spoilers, but there are a couple of twists, so if you don’t know the story, you might want to stop reading here.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

It’s a few weeks now since I watched Cambridge Spies, so it’s starting to fade in my mind and this won’t be a proper review – but I wanted to write a brief posting to say I enjoyed it and think it will have a lot of appeal to fellow costume drama fans.

I didn’t watch the series when it was first shown on the BBC, because I think for some reason I got it into my head that it was a docu-drama, a genre I find hard to like – but, despite the announcement at the beginning of each of the four episodes that this is a true story with some changes, it’s a fully-realised drama  without that “docu” feeling about it.

CambridgeSpiesThe director is Tim Fywell, who made the movie of Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle,  and it has the same sort of breathtakingly beautiful photography and the feeling of a vanished world – especially the opening episode, set at Cambridge between the wars, which has something of the languorous atmosphere of Brideshead Revisited.   The script is by Peter Moffat. I don’t think I’ve seen much of his other work, but he scripted last year’s Einstein and Eddington – another one I sadly managed to miss.

(more…)

Read Full Post »