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Dancing at Lughnasa [Import]

VHS Tape
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Irish summer April 9 2004
Format:VHS Tape
A man fondly recalls the summer of 1936, when he was eight years old in this Irish slice-of-life drama. Young Michael lives with his unmarried mother and her four spinster sisters, including Kate (Meryl Streep). The women make a meager living by knitting gloves, until a knitting factory opens nearby. Into their quiet and ordered lives comes their older brother, a priest who spent his life in Africa and has suffered a kind of breakdown, and Michael's long-unseen father, an adventurer who's on his way to fight against Franco.
This is a very quiet and slow-paced film. It succeeds in capturing the lifestyle, character, and beauty of the Irish countryside, when all that mattered was your family and church. There is very little action - a motor cycle ride, listening to the radio, and on one special night, dancing in the yard - but that makes the film even more poignant. Based on an autobiographical play, Dancing at Lughnasa is a raw, no-frills look back in time, with an art-house-film feel. Fans of Meryl Streep will enjoy her fine performance as the strict and melancholy eldest sister. Michael Gambon gives a sympathetic performance as the confused priest who has come home to die.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quiet film, and hauntingly lovely Jan. 15 2004
Dancing at Lughnasa, a movie adapted from an autobiography, delves into the lives of five women, unmarried sisters living in rural Ireland in the 30s. The youngest sister has given birth to an illegitimate son, and at the beginning of the movie Michael, the little boy, is 8 year old. There's a pagan ritual that the village observes every August, a night when they dance around a fire in honor of the god Lugh, the ancient god of light. But wait? Aren't these villagers good Catholics? It's Ireland, after all. The answer is yes...at least, sort of.
Tensions increase with the arrival of 2 men. One is the only brother in this family, an elderly priest returning from missionary work in Africa, where he apparently slowly lost his mind. The other is Gerry (Rhys Ifans), Michael's long-absent father who's still not about to commit to much of anything. Meryl Streep plays the eldest sister, often a shrew, but always riveting.
It's a good one, augmented with gorgeous music and stunning cinematography of the incomparable Irish countryside.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Waiting To Dance Oct. 13 2002
Not having seen the play, I seem to be at a tremendous disadvantage to appreciate this film. It seems like anything so strongly rooted in Celtic traditions, pagan and Catholic, should be spectacular. I kept waiting for something to happen....it certainly is always getting ready to happen, but the script never triggers that flood of Irish Green emotion that it always so close to the surface of all good Irish literature and art.
About the only redeeming characters are the brother Priest, who has managed to let his addled head be converted to the great heart-of-Africa primitivistic traditions (with the great scripting from the play which allow his missionary stories to parallel their Celtic neighbours' Lugan festival fires burning on the nearby ridges at night). What a great story line to let his fumbling spirit be drawn to the only time and place when he could actually rescue his simple sister. This is the great moment. I only wish the film had been able to convert what seemed to be the other dozens of latent moments waiting to sail off into my memory of the story. Alas, it was not to be.
I am now hoping the play runs again somewhere so I can catch it. I would love to see somebody else take a shot at making this one work on the big screen....it's just there, waiting patiently for a young director to re-discover it 20 years from now and make the great film that is really in there!
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great film..... June 18 2001
My husband and I saw DANCING AT LUGHNASA at the Kreeger Theatre here in Washington DC, and it was magical. The little white cottage on the stage glowed in the dark under a full moon. I wanted to see the film because I had seen the play and loved it. As the mother of two thespians and the friend of a Tony winner, I am forever interested in the translation of a stage play to the screen. I think the producer Noel Pearson (MY LEFT FOOT), the screen writer Frank McGuinness (Tony winner), and director Pat O'Conner (CIRCLE OF FRIENDS) have created a wonderful movie adaptation of Brian Friel's play. I don't expect a screen play to mimic a "staged" play, but if you're familiar with the stage play and you expect the film to be identical, you may be disappointd. I think a screen play is simply another artistic expression.
The tale told in DANCING AT LUGHNASA is magical and realistic and sad and could be interpreted as "anti-Catholic" by some, but perhaps it isn't anti-catholic as much as its inclusive of other points of view. The five Mundy sisters, their son and nephew, and priest brother returned from missionary work in Africa, as well as Christina's errant lover (father of Michael) live life on the edge. Yet inspite of their poverty, want and worry, they all find love and beauty this one magical summer when Michael's father comes for a short visit before departing to fight the church in Franco's Spain, and the Mundy brother (Michael Gambon) returns from Africa--where the natives have converted him to their religion instead of vice versa.
It's coming up on August, the month of Lugh the old Celtic God of Light. The "pagans" light bonfires on the hills to celebrate Lugh. The Mundy brother speaks of the rising of the White Goddess into heaven.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars dancing at LUghnasa
I saw the play and wanted to see the movie. Watched it with 5 friends and all loved it. I recommend it highly.
Published 22 months ago by JeanKennedy
1.0 out of 5 stars Stellar cast and director can't save this turkey!
God, what a disappointment! I am a huge fan of both Meryl Streep and Michael Gambon, and I know Brian Friel has written some wonderful plays and screenplays -- so I couldn't... Read more
Published on Dec 28 2003 by jeffsdate
1.0 out of 5 stars ACK!!!!!
To those unacquainted with Brian Friel's wonderful stage play of the same name, this might be a mediocre, possibly even enjoyable film. Read more
Published on March 8 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensitive, brainy, emotional cinematic masterpiece.
The story of the Mundy family of five sisters, a mentally disoriented brother, and a growing up boy would have been mundane and sleepy if poorly directed and mediocrelly... Read more
Published on Jan. 3 2001 by BVT
2.0 out of 5 stars mediocre, at best
I really looked forward to the arrival of my copy of this video. Yes, I actually bought it! Only because it's impossible to find at video rental stores. Read more
Published on July 25 2000 by MAT
3.0 out of 5 stars A very mixed review.
'Dancing at Lughasa' is an interesting (if somewhat depressing) movie, but worth watching for the sterling performances; Streep is sensational as the priggish elder sister trying... Read more
Published on July 20 2000 by Amanda HALE
3.0 out of 5 stars AV Quality
Video : Average, not vivid and sharp. Sound : Only has PCM sound track, no Surround or remastering. Bass and treble are average.
Published on July 7 2000 by Li-wei Feng
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting...
Maybe it's just me me but it seems that all the movies I've watched about Ireland are very sad. Goodness knows the people over there have gone through a lot but so have other... Read more
Published on Jan. 11 2000 by "darien_prin"
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