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Traffik: 2pc Box Set - DVD

Bill Paterson , Lindsay Duncan    Unrated   DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
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Like The Singing Detective, Alastair Reid's award-winning 1989 British miniseries (broadcast in the U.S. on Masterpiece Theatre) has taken on mythic status. The critical and box-office success of Steven Soderbergh's Oscar®-winning feature-film adaptation paved the way for Traffik's home-video release, and it's an even more gripping and devastating experience. This is understandable in that it unfolds over five riveting hours, allowing for richer characterization. Traffik also operates on a broader canvas, as the interlocking stories play out in such far-flung locales as London and Hamburg, Germany, as well as Pakistan, a reminder that the war on drugs--in this case, heroin--is a global one. Comparisons between the miniseries and the movie are inevitable, and in the role played by Michael Douglas, Bill Paterson (perhaps best known as the lovelorn disc jockey in Comfort and Joy) makes a more convincing bureaucratic Everyman trying to hash out a financial-aid agreement with Pakistan that would eradicate the impoverished farmers' precious poppy crop. His world is shattered when his own daughter (Julia Ormond in her heartbreaking screen debut) becomes an addict. Lindsay Duncan is even more chilling than Catherine Zeta-Jones as Helen, a "housewife" who takes over her husband's smuggling operation when he is arrested. Aware of his illicit activities, she vows, "I'm not going to let go of everything we fought for." In the Don Cheadle role is Fritz Müller-Scherz as Ulli, a crafty and relentless German detective on Helen's case. One tragic story line unique to the miniseries concerns Fazal (Jamal Shah), an impoverished Pakistani farmer who finds work with Tariq Butt (Tallat Hussain), a major drug trafficker. This is one of television's finest hours (or five), and it's impossible not to get caught up in it. --Donald Liebenson

From the Back Cover

The acclaimed Masterpiece Theatre miniseries and the basis for the Academy Award winning film Traffic. A riveting thriller filmed on location in Pakistan, Hamburg and London, Traffik is and unflinching look at those who grow, sell and use drugs and the futility of efforts to stop them. Starring Bill Paterson (The Singing Detective), Lindsay Duncan (An Ideal Husband) and Julia Ormand (First Knight) in her extraordinary film debut. Three lives intersect explosively on the front lines of the drug war. Jack, a British government minister, thinks diplomacy will prevail until a fact-finding mission to Pakistan coincides with volcanic upheaval in his personal life. Helen, the British wife of a German businessman cough smuggling heroin, discovers her own steely determination to survive. And Fazal, a Pakistani Farmer forced out of his poppy fields, find a far more dangerous occupation.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars From a time when C4 produced quality television... April 22 2004
Format:DVD
"Traffik" written by Simon Moore and directed by Alastair Reid is a milestone in recent British television history. It is a beautifully crafted and terrifying vision of the international drugs trade and the effect this trade has on different individuals. It destroys the myth from a Western European viewpoint that heroin begins and ends its life in areas of urban decay and dislocation and gives us an unemotional snapshot of the whole process of its production.
Steven Soderbergh's US adaptation was always going to fail to reach the heights of its British counterpart (although it was a highly worthy effort), and an issue and narrative of this scale needed six hours (at least) to give it gravitas. Each character in "Traffik" is well developed and expertly played: Bill Patterson's Jack Lithgow, the stubborn drugs czar who fails to comprehend the problem he is tasked with solving while simultaneously watching his college educated daughter (Julia Ormond) slip further into heroin addiction; Lindsay Duncan as a drug importer's wife who plays the Lady Macbeth role much more effectively than Catherine Zeta Jones in "Traffic"; Jamal Shah as Fazal, opium farmer turned heroin producer and the closest thing the audience has to having it's conscience openly voiced; Fritz Muller Scherz's single minded Hamburg cop, out to bust the suppliers and dealers no matter what the cost.
One of the main strengths of this mini series is that in never uses too many quick emotional taglines. The viewer is sucked into the storyline of each character and is constantly forced to re-assess their previous assumptions. Fazal is a particularly good example of this.
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Format:DVD
I saw this Series on my local Public Television station some years ago, soon after it came out, as Part of the "Masterpiece Theatre" series. And it was AWESOME for Three reasons:
1. It's own merits; the plot and filming is Magnificent.
2. Alastair Cooke, as the (former) host of "Masterpiece
Theatre" is second-to-none for giving you Riveting
background/introduction information to the film you
are about to see.
3. The non-English part of the film was in the native
languages (German and Pakistani) with subtitles.
However -
1. on the DVD (and VCR Tape, I am sure) - you unfortunately do
not have the wonderful luxury of Alastair Cooke's erudite
company.
And -
2. the producers of the DVD (and Tape, I am sure) STUPIDLY
dubbed out the German and Pakistani verbiage with English-
speak. Groooooooan... I was close to pulling my hair out!
There are some Very Witty and Funny and Intense scenes with
Uli and Dietrich (the two German detectives) that simply do
not come across AT ALL with the STUPID Enlish-speak dubbed
in!! You miss so much! And there is Poignancy and Deep
Emotion (in both the German and Pakistani parts) that is
COMPLETELY LOST if you don't hear in the native language
with English subtitles.
Auch!!
Buy the DVD/Tape anyway, though. It it Still Excellent!
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5.0 out of 5 stars On my list of 200 top favorites of all time July 13 2003
Format:DVD
I couldn't take my eyes off of the screen, from the start to finish of this mini-series. What makes it exceptional goes far beyond the compelling drama, tight sequencing and convincing acting, and would take longer to fully explain than you and I have time to explore, but bear with me. The mini-series takes us to several corners of the world to illustrate components of the heroin supply/demand chain, key players involved in each, who wins and loses and just by how grievously much. The mini-series shuns simplistic thinking or pat answers in favor of focusing on the depth of the problem, so that we can infer the depth that any solution must provide. The mini-series does not blame any 1 party involved, but rather, shows how naturally occurring human needs and weaknesses are exploited so that the few may win big while the masses in both developed and developing countries are left in grief and disbelief.
See this mini-series because you are a citizen of the world in which this scenario, with its high stakes for us all, plays daily. See it, too, because the excellent research and preparation behind it warrant recognition. Don't be satisfied with the "Traffic" movie, which was very good, but too highly condensed.
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Format:DVD
For those skeptical, like me, of America's "war on drugs," I have recommended the US version of this story. It's depressing--portraying the futility of this so-called war--but that only gets those down who insist that a film needs to be "feel good." Depression can sometimes be enlightening.
Then I had the opportunity to see this British production. Truth be told, I'm now disappointed in the American version. It's theme-by-theme plagiarism of the British version. From the government bigwig's daughter toying with drugs to the arrest of the one capitalizing off drugs, to the drug agent being killed while his partner looks on helplessly. And it's typically Hollywood, i.e., more glamorous, like Michael Douglas and his wife playing lead rolls.
The English production is a series, therefore longer than the American. It takes around six hours to watch both DVDs. But it's more down to earth. Sure, the character is a British drug czar, so he's got a lot of personal prestige to lose by finding that his daughter is a junkie. But instead of covering the coke trade in Mexico as the American version did, it exposed much about the heroin trade and its relationship to Pakistan. While both versions covered the government indifference and/or corruption that promotes the drug trade--despite violent rhetoric denying that--this version did a far better job of demonstrating the economic conditions over which the Pakistani farmer has essentially no control, that forces him to cultivate the opium. The "deeply religious" and absolutely ruthless Pakistani drug lord employs the farmer who lost his land when the opium was burned out by the government's anti-drug policy. While the poor farmer seemed to be on the up-and-up for a while, the lord's bottom line was absolute loyalty.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars TRAFFIK VS TRAFFIC
LET'S KEEP THIS SIMPLE. THIS BRITISH VERSION LEAVES THE AMERICAN VERSION IN THE DUST. IT IS A REAL RIDE.
Published on Oct. 28 2009 by editette
4.0 out of 5 stars Definitely better than the Hollywood production
I was one of the few people in the world who watched this mini-series before the Hollywood production. Read more
Published on July 4 2004 by Hamood Rehman
3.0 out of 5 stars Region 1 release = 3 stars. Region 2 release = 5 stars.
Nothing much to add, apart from saying that the region 2 release has been superbly produced, so if you want to avoid the poor US market adaptation and have a multi region player,... Read more
Published on April 15 2004 by John
1.0 out of 5 stars DVD is unwatchable
I'm strongly in the minority here, and I desperately wanted to share in the celebration of this series, but, as one or two other reviewers have noted here, the horrendous quality... Read more
Published on Jan. 10 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Truly gripping dramatic study of the heroin trade. The flow between storylines is handled perfectly. Read more
Published on Jan. 17 2003 by Graymac
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, Must Watch Viewing
We watched this over 3 nights on dvd and just loved it. I have never found myself liking a film and the tv series it was based upon equally but am in that situation here. Read more
Published on May 8 2002 by carol irvin
4.0 out of 5 stars A truly great miniseries gets less than great DVD treatment.
"Traffik" is one of those pinnacles of television. An amazing production, it spans England, Germany & Pakistan giving each location a visual flair. Read more
Published on March 14 2002 by Phil Watkins
3.0 out of 5 stars BEWARE: Dubbed audio track!
This is specifically a review of the DVD of a British TV Miniseries which I otherwise adore.
I was deeply disappointed to find that the Acorn Media DVD does not contain the... Read more
Published on March 9 2002 by Opinionator
5.0 out of 5 stars Traffik or Traffic
I am a Los Angeles writer and filmmaker that was eager to see the style and magnitude of Traffic when it was released. Read more
Published on Jan. 22 2002 by Timothy J Perior
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