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A Handful of Dust


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Product Details

  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001ADB64
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #65,051 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By bergman@xekmail.pt on Dec 20 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Evelyn Waugh's novel gets more than your average "period piece" treatment here. Art direction is a plus, as are costumes, set design, and score. But there's also a consistent (and coherent) effort to convey the sense of inevitability present in the novel. Thanks to superb acting (particularly by James Wilby and Kristin Scott-Thomas) that effort pays off. You feel the main cahracters spiralling down - but there seems to be no way to guess their end. Rupert Graves is also very good, but Judi Dench and Alec Guiness in comparatively smaller roles give us performances that are as luminous as ever. Intriguing score. Why not 5 stars? Tempo. Pace. A few minuts less wouldn't hurt it - they're not essential to plot or characterization, they just let the camera take in the beautiful sets languidly... Maybe for some people that would be deserving of a 5th star. Maybe. I still think it's a beautiful music, the acting is superior and it's something of an unknown gem.
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By Kona TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 16 2009
Format: DVD
The story opens in 1932, in the magnificent country estate of Tony and Brenda Last (James Wilby, Kristin Scott Thomas). Tony loves puttering around the old manor, while Brenda longs for the party life in London. Out of sheer boredom, she begins an affair with a social-climbing mama's boy (Rupert Graves).

As the title indicates, this is a grim story, the first part being a rather typical domestic drama focusing on the stuffy, idle rich. No one plays the snobby aristocrat better than Thomas, and she is so wonderfully convincing, you'll hate her. Wilby is well-cast as the dull but loyal lord of the manor who dotes on his young son. Graves is handsome and suitably innocuous. This section of the film exaggerates the stiff-upper-lip, passionless lives of the upper classes in contrast to the end, which takes us halfway around the world to a primitive land. This part was very creepy and left me cringing.

I love period pieces set in posh locations, so I really enjoyed this movie. It's beautifully photographed at the exquisite Carlton Towers estate. The acting is excellent and the odd turn at the end may leave one a bit depressed but still satisfied. Recommended.
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Format: VHS Tape
Films haven't got much better than this recently. The jewel in inception and the making of this film which makes it is that the producers know the limitations of the "great" film and just how many ingredients of a great film, and also then elements of the stage, go into making this world-beating drama.
This is one of the most distinctive films which has been made therefore: a film which knows the entertainment context of film, drama, literature, the stage and then the television or movie-house film today. This is supreme entertainment.
In the same tradition and indeed category, without qualification or doubt, as the great pieces of cinema of old - "as Lawrence of Arabia" - this is a modern piece of dramatic art for the nineties and remains remarkably unchallenged in this decade. There are few films of the the last few decades which see so far ahead. Neither an enfant savage nor an enfant terrible - rather this film is as it knows these have been high or prevalent in the cultural climate, in the general cultural prescription. And these notions or identities are and have long been lurking in a culturally bound class (and country). This is embedded within the dramatisation of the tale. The compass of the film and of the story are great but limited.
I give it five stars because of the supreme, engaging and limited but total cinematic nature of this piece, which unexpectedly touches but also inspires the intellect with the emotions in making the story true by successfully refusing to explicate this human fantasy story in anyway; by its actual subtlety of treatment of the book; by giving the audience a direct light to see this literary tale.
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Format: VHS Tape
This dramatization of Evelyn Waugh's novel is nicely done. The story concerns the marriage of Tony and Brenda Last, members of Britain's upper crust. From all outward appearances and, as far as the oblivious Tony is concerned the marriage is perfect. Brenda is bored and proceeds headlong into a destructive relationship with John Beaver, a man without personality or resources. Tony watches in denial and Brenda watches in self-absorption as their "perfect" world crumbles.
The dialogue in the film is remarkably faithful to the novel. With one notable exception, the actors quietly underplay the scenes, almost all of which involve tense and emotionally-wringing scenarios. This serves to underscore the absurdity of the "stiff upper lip" social mores of the time. The film stars James Wilby as Tony Last. Wilby is a dead ringer for the young Evelyn Waugh -- a nice touch given the story's autobiographical origins. Kristen Scott Thomas stars as Brenda.
About three-fourths of the film is set in London and rural Great Britain during the years between WWI and WWII. The remainder is set in the Amazon jungles. The film's score features native South American musical instruments throughout the scenes set in Great Britain which, again, serves to underscore the film's social themes.
Sir Alec Guinness dominates the jungle scenes as the amoral Mr. Todd. He's the one actor in this film who doesn't underplay his role. In this film, Guinness is unwashed, unshaven, scheming, hateful and maniacal. In short, he becomes "The Man Who Liked Dickens". I felt that his performance here was one of the best I've seen.
I rated this film 4 stars rather than 5 because there are one or two scenes which are so underplayed I would have missed them entirely had I not read the novel beforehand and been on the lookout for them.
Overall, this is definitely worth watching.
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