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Angelas Ashes

3.1 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Emily Watson, Robert Carlyle, Joe Breen, Ciaran Owens, Michael Legge
  • Directors: Alan Parker
  • Writers: Alan Parker, Frank McCourt, Laura Jones
  • Producers: Alan Parker, Adam Schroeder, David Brown, David Wimbury
  • Format: NTSC
  • Subtitles: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Paramount
  • Release Date: July 18 2000
  • Run Time: 145 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews
  • ASIN: 6305872058
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #19,459 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Angela's Ashes is based on Frank McCourt's best-selling memoir about growing up in the 1930s in a poverty stricken family in Limerick, Ireland. The movie tries valiantly to be faithful to the book, and even the author has been endlessly quoted as to how fine an adaptation it is. Yet something has been lost in transition, and sadly it is much of McCourt's dark and often rude humor, which is one of two elements that made the book so readable. The other element was his writing style, which is marvelous. I will return to the humor issue later.
After falling to succeed in New York, the McCourt family was forced to return to Ireland in 1935. Frank notes that they may be the only Irish family in history who immigrated back to that [then] miserably poor nation with it's [still] warring Protestants and Catholics. Within three years, the family loses three children to disease. When they first move back, they live in one room. When they finally get a rundown two-story row house, its front door opens onto the communal outhouse. It rains a lot in Limerick, and water runs into the first floor most of the year. The family resorts to living upstairs.
Dad [Robert Carlyse] has difficulty finding work, and the family lives on the dole [welfare]. The cards are stacked against Dad. He is a Protestant in a Catholic town, he is full of pride, and he drinks. On the rare occasions he finds work, he drinks the pay away and ends up getting fired. He is the primary reason the family is so poor. Carlyse plays him as an intelligent, affable but weak man. Much has been made about this character. How could any father and husband sit by and see his family suffer so much? Carlyse said in an interview that he finally decided to play Dad as what he must have been - an alcoholic.
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Format: DVD
My wife and I rented the video of, Angela's Ashes. I had read the book and it's sequel, 'Tis, both by Frank McCourt. It's an autobiography, about growing up in the direst poverty in Brooklyn and Ireland.
Although the book showed the bleakest of poverty, I thought it was wildly funny on the whole. The movie focused more on the sad aspects alone. The frequent black and white footage of the dark and gloomy rain soaked lanes of Irish cities cast a black mood over me. Living conditions were one step better than living in a dumpster. I can see where, to a naïve viewer unfamiliar with the ways things were, the conditions might seem funny at first. They are so extreme; one couldn't possibly believe that people actually lived like that. It must be a joke! But millions of Irish grew up just like that and many died under the conditions, without ever growing up.
The institutional church and all authority come out looking pretty bad. There are the priests and brothers who slam doors in their faces when they go to them for help. When Frank gets a job delivering telegrams, he finds out that at the houses of the Religious they don't give tips to poor boys that deliver telegrams.
There's an overfed priest handing out leftover food from the rectory table to destitute women at the back door. Going before the government Dole board and the St. Vincent DePaul Society is a humiliating, dehumanizing experience. The school-teachers are mostly hostile and domineering. Corporal punishment is the norm.
Priests rain down fire and brimstone from the pulpits. They threaten eternal damnation to the fires of hell for sins of sexual impurity, to boys who have had multiple brothers and sisters die of hunger and disease and who are so hungry they lick the grease off newspapers used to wrap food.
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By A Customer on April 29 2002
Format: DVD
I had high expectations for this film. Too high, may have been the case. As the AMAZON review says, this film is far from an artistic disappointment. But it does not do what it should have. During the "making of" on the DVD, director-screenwriter Alan Parker says that he had trouble making the film flow, and had to resort to using a narrarator to get it to work. This is the major flaw. Approximately 90% of the film seems to be covered by narraration, and about 1/3d of the way in you start to realize that there is narraration and that realization ruins it. The narraration squashes the fine work being done by Emily Watson and the extraordinary work being done by Robert Carlyle. Mr. Carlyle's ability to keep the elder Mr. McCourt from becoming a complete monster is certainly a high point in this film. Unfortunately the overly intrusive narraration blocks the audience from getting as close to the characters as it wants. By employing the use of a narrarator, Mr. Parker puts an unnecessary and ultimately impenetrable barrier between the characters and the audience and in the end, this stunts the film.
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Format: VHS Tape
All of the reviews that I've read of Angela's Ashes use words such as "depressing","somber" and "cold".I won't say that there are no merits in these descriptions but I do feel that at least as much notice should be given to the overall warmth of the movie. Despite a severely alcoholic father and an uneducated, mostly passive, and sick in spirit mother, and a seemingly bitter childhood,Frank McCourt manages to tell his story with tenderness and love for his people. The photography is excellent, managing to be beautiful even though the sets speak largly of decay. The dialog seems somewhat flattened and "americanized" compared to the book, but is still quite colorfull and wonderfully close to real. Robert Carlyle portrays McCourts father, a terminally unemployed alcoholic, with some tenderness for the character and I think captures the mirror image of McCourts' understandingly ambivalent memories of his father. At first Emily Watson's performance seemed to me to exibit a coldness that I saw as without motivation and distant, but as I began to truly understand the implications of the story I have come to think that an accurate rendition of McCourt's mother. Director Alan Parker handles this film in a straight forward manner.It is dark without being evil, it is touching without subjecting the audience to schmaltzy devices designed to influence emotion. As for redemption, the fact that McCourt could write his story with so much compassion, humor,and dignity, and have it accepted with so much goodwill around the world, seems like a victory to me.
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