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Daniel - DVD

Timothy Hutton , Mandy Patinkin , Sidney Lumet    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 16.29
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars history as dramatic fiction March 6 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Sidney Lumet's film is based on the novel The Book of Daniel by E L Doctorow, an obvious use of the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case of the 1950's. The Rosenberg's were convicted of conspiring to give atomic bomb information to the Soviets, and executed in 1953. Whilst it is believed that the Rosenberg's were justly convicted, what made the case contentious was the severity of their punishment. Doctorow renamed the Rosenberg's the Isaacsons, and uses the Rosenberg myth to explore the dark side of infamy. The film is told from the Isaacson children's point of view, Amanda Plummer who even as a child when her parents were killed, shows indications of her later mental breakdown, and Timothy Hutton who appears to be the stronger of the two. Both have internalised their grief, with Plummer's idealism shown to be as unhealthy as that of her parents, and Hutton's fetish about different methods of execution. We see the children's resentment of their parents because the imprisonment and eventual deaths of the parents cost the children their protection. It's not important to the children whether their parents are innocent. They believe the political activism the parents expressed is self-destructive. Our view of the Isaacson's activism as a demonstration of passion is divided between heroic and foolish, with Mandy Pantikin's Paul Isaacson being the best example, when he collapses at the sight of the electric chair. Is he a foolish coward or would anyone faint in fear at the time of death? (though Mrs Isaacson doesn't). Doctorow (who adapted his own book) casts doubt on the guilt of the Isaacson's to provide for the children's anguish.. Read more ›
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DANIEL Aug. 2 2003
Format:VHS Tape
I FIND THIS MOVIE VERY INTERESTING BECAUSE ITS SIMILAR TO THE CASE OF JULIUS AND ETHEL ROSENBERG WHO WERE TRIED AND EXECUTED FOR ESPIONAGE IN THE 1950'S,ITS IDENTICAL TO THEIR CASE.
I FIND THAT THE ACTORS PLAYED THEIR ROLES WELL,AND RECOMMEND THIS MOVIE FOR VIEWING VERY HIGHLY.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical drama with magnificent actors Aug. 1 2008
By K. Silber - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Timothy Hutton is luminous in this film, as the fictional son of the Rosenbergs. He should have own an award for this portrayal. All the actors, so many well known now, and including the children portraying the young Daniel, are wonderful. There are layers of story unfolding, and the layers are punctuated by the singing of Paul Robeson at intervals, giving a depth and weight to the already intense story. A few viewers may not like the parts where Daniel talks about the many forms of execution, but this is a small part of the film. I recommend this film to anyone who lived through the 60s, and interested in the many films directed by Sidney Lumet. Superb.
22 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars history as dramatic fiction March 6 2001
By Peter Shelley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
Sidney Lumet's film is based on the novel The Book of Daniel by E L Doctorow, an obvious use of the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case of the 1950's. The Rosenberg's were convicted of conspiring to give atomic bomb information to the Soviets, and executed in 1953. Whilst it is believed that the Rosenberg's were justly convicted, what made the case contentious was the severity of their punishment. Doctorow renamed the Rosenberg's the Isaacsons, and uses the Rosenberg myth to explore the dark side of infamy. The film is told from the Isaacson children's point of view, Amanda Plummer who even as a child when her parents were killed, shows indications of her later mental breakdown, and Timothy Hutton who appears to be the stronger of the two. Both have internalised their grief, with Plummer's idealism shown to be as unhealthy as that of her parents, and Hutton's fetish about different methods of execution. We see the children's resentment of their parents because the imprisonment and eventual deaths of the parents cost the children their protection. It's not important to the children whether their parents are innocent. They believe the political activism the parents expressed is self-destructive. Our view of the Isaacson's activism as a demonstration of passion is divided between heroic and foolish, with Mandy Pantikin's Paul Isaacson being the best example, when he collapses at the sight of the electric chair. Is he a foolish coward or would anyone faint in fear at the time of death? (though Mrs Isaacson doesn't). Doctorow (who adapted his own book) casts doubt on the guilt of the Isaacson's to provide for the children's anguish..Hutton interviews survivors of the trial and settles on the theory that his parents were the dupe of the informant, who fingered them in order to deflect attention from the real culprits. Whilst this theory cannot be substantiated, it's more palatable for the Isaacsons than it could be for the Rosenbergs, who the Communist Party wanted us to believe were also framed. Of course this theory requires that there existed a conspiracy, and the film points out that the Soviet's advances in nuclear weapons can be explained by their independent efforts. After all, wasn't it feared that the Nazi's would beat the Americans to the bomb if their invasion of Russia was a success? The alternate theory that there were no culprits and the Isaacsons were merely scapegoats for Cold War paranoia would probably lead both children to suicide. Lumet creates two time frames, distinguished by cinematography Andrejz Bartkowiak's orange tint for the past and blue tint for the Vietnam era that is the present where the children are now adults, and intercuts in memory and with the progression of Hutton's quest. This intercutting works the best with Lumet's set pieces, an anti-Communist ambush after a Paul Robeson concert, and the two executions presented mercifully in long shot, though a final comparative funeral seems false since it's hard to imagine that the Isaacsons would have been allowed a public funeral. It feels like it exists so Lumet could make the parallel. There is a memorable image of the children being passed over the heads of a crowd during a rally, but the extended stock footage that Lumet opens and closes the film with is less successful. I also tend to agree with Pauline Kael's assessment of the Robeson songs on the soundtrack, in her review in her collection State of the Art. She says its a secret rarely let out: Robeson was a monotonous singer and his songs all sound the same (except for one up-tempo number towards the end). When men appear with baseball bats to attack the Isaacsons and other Communist Party members who have heard Robeson sing live, you wish they would use their bats on Robeson's arranger instead. Lumet has the reputation for encouraging his actors to yell, a point taken to near parody by the hysteria of Julie Bovasso as Patinkin's sister who is lumbered with the children when both parents are arrested, and Patinkin is probably the worst offender. However Lindsay Crouse as Mrs Isaacson is a touching mother and I also liked the polite hostility of Carmen Matthews as the widow of the Isaacson's lawyer. Hutton is all hair and beard but Amanda Plummer has a Judy Garland-ish vulnerability, with a scene where he tries to rouse her out of her madness and she returns to the solace of her foetal position in a dance-like move.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story, great director, great actors June 18 2014
By michael myers - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This strikes me as a quiet, forgotten movie from the early '80s, but it's a great story directed by a Sidney Lumet, whose movies have never disappointed me going all the back to 12 Angry Men in the late 1950s. Great performances by the cast, including Mandy Pantinkin, Lindsay Crouse, and Timothy Hutton, who strikes me as among the most underrated actors of his generation. Like other Lumet films, this movie takes on some weighty and important issues, by tweaking and revising the real story of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the American Communists who were convicted and executed, on charges of espionage for the Soviet Union, in the 1950s. This movie focuses on the damaged children of an executed Communist couple, picking up the story about a dozen years later, at the height of the antiwar movement in the late 1960s. The daughter suffers severe mental illness, while the son [Hutton] embarks on a mission to explore and come to terms with his parents' story and its impact on him and his sister. The film intertwines Daniel's current mission with flashback scenes that reveal his parents' story, as well as their experience of it as children. Great film, especially for those of us who love history, the 1950s, the 1960s, as well as the early 1980s.
4.0 out of 5 stars GREAT FICTIONAL RETELLING OF ROSENBERG STORY March 13 2014
By M. Redish - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The movie has a great cast and is a very good translation to the screen of E.L. Doctorow's book which is fictional account of the children of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
5.0 out of 5 stars Daniel - A Great Film March 8 2013
By RG Heinrich - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Basically the story of a great miscarriage of justice told by the fictional son of the victims. Faithful to Doctorow's original "Book of Daniel" it should be a warning to us all about the consequences of paranoia overcoming common sense.
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