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The White Countess (Sous-titres français)

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

Price: CDN$ 55.66
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Product Details

  • Actors: Ralph Fiennes, Natasha Richardson, Vanessa Redgrave, Lynn Redgrave, Madeleine Potter
  • Directors: James Ivory
  • Writers: Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Producers: Andre Morgan, Andreas Grosch, Andreas Schmid, Ben Spencer, Daqing Wang
  • Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Canadian Home Video Rating : General Audience (G)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: May 16 2006
  • Run Time: 135 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B000ERVJQ8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #36,672 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

In this final film by Oscar(r)-nominated producer Ismail Merchant (1994, Best Picture, Remains of the Day), and Oscar(r)-nominee James Ivory (1993, Best Director, Howards End), 1930s Shanghai provides the backdrop for this exceptional drama starring two-time Oscar(r)-nominee Ralph Fiennes (1997, Best Actor, The English Patient; 1994, Best Supporting Actor, Schindler's List) as Todd Jackson, a diplomat blinded in a bombing. An encounter with Sophia (Natasha Richardson, Maid in Manhattan), an exiled Countess employed as a bar girl, inspires him to open his own club, but only if she will work for him. Sophia's in-laws (two-time Oscar(r)-nominee Lynn Redgrave) and Sarah (Academy Award(r) winner Vanessa Redgrave), greedily pocket her income, but denounce her as a bad influence on her daughter. When Japanese troops invade the city, a mass exodus ensues! Alone and afraid, Sophia clings to the only hope left to her - finding her missing daughter!

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
This film appeals on many levels - there is the exotic historical location of Shanghai in the mid-1930s. The scenery, the setting, the costumes, all of it is authentic. The technical expertise of the producers makes the era come alive on screen. It is a boomtown, a get-rich-quick speculative atmosphere. There is the volatile political tension in Asia between China and Japan. Another factor is the recent Bolshevik Revolution in Russia which caused the aristocrats and Russian royalty to flee ... barely saving their lives by escaping into desperate, degrading poverty. They were lucky to be alive. Shanghai is a fascinating mix of multinationals from many countries. They intermingle under a dark cloud which is expected to burst. Everyone realizes it is only a matter of time before war erupts. A Japanese invasion is deemed eminent ... It is within this complex milieu that Todd Jackson emerges (portrayed to perfection by Ralph Fiennes). He is a former employee of the U.S. Diplomatic Corps who had worked with Woodrow Wilson to create the League of Nations. He survived a bomb explosion but is left blind. He had lived with his young daughter, whom he loved deeply, but who had died in the same tragic event.

Currently, Jackson is the Director of a thriving Shanghai company but he longs to create a nightclub and cabaret where the different internationals in Shanghai can mix without consideration of their national and political differences. The other Directors of the company are contemplating elminating him from the company by buying out his shares but they hesitate due to his recent tragic accident. He spends his free time visiting bars and dance clubs, experiencing the seedier side of the Shanghai lifestyle ... At one such bar, he meets a Japanese businessman Mr.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
An excellent story which I enjoyed very much. Well acted. An excellent production. Recommend highly.
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I bought this hoping it was another great romance movie with eye candy Ralphe Fiennes, but was disappointed. Good acting by Natasha Richardson - but Ralphes character is too reserved - drove me nuts. I won't save it to watch it again, I'll sell it at garage sale next Spring.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa4b37120) out of 5 stars 108 reviews
97 of 100 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4b09cc0) out of 5 stars The Most Sadly-Beautiful Film I Have Ever Seen July 14 2006
By Starfire - Published on
Format: DVD
Sometimes there's just something hidden beneath the surface of a film that makes it glorious. The elements poured into a film sometimes gel in just the right manner that it tugs ever so feebly at your heartstrings. Films like these include 'Howards End' and 'The Remains of the Day'. And now I would like to happily add 'The White Countess' to that list.

As usual in Merchant Ivory productions, the casting is meticulously thought out. This film is no exception. The Redgrave clan, led by the quitely luminous Natasha Richardson, and Ralph Fiennes turn in such spectacular performances that capture the audience so well that you don't even mind the sluggish pace of the narrative. In fact, you can't think of anything better to do than sit through the slow-moving 2-hour-plus film and watch these actors deliver their lines and watch them play beautifully off each other.

Richardson (who, incidentally, should really make more films) gives a soft and nuanced performance as the totally believeable exiled Russian countess. The cinematographer takes excellent advantage of her elegant beauty. Fiennes is not quite as believeable as a fallen American ex-diplomat, but hey, it's Ralph Fiennes, and we always enjoy watching him on the screen. The romance between the bar owner and his countess is brilliantly understated. What I adore most about Merchant Ivory love stories is that the characters are allowed to quietly simmer. The attraction between Jackson and Sofia is evident from the moment they appear on screen together, but the audience is always left wanting more. A brief outburst of passion is quickly dampened and (while other blockbusters would have the couple in bed half-naked) the characters go back to their outwardly-platonic relationship. Richardson and Fiennes have excellent chemistry and we are almost left frustrated by the lack of open intimacy between them. But then we remember the personal losses sustained by both parties, and we forgive them.

The set direction, as usual, is visually sumptious. No detail is left uncovered and no measure too great. Perfectionists in every department, I tell you. A wonderful job recreating the sets, and quite a feat, considering everything was shot on location, though most authentic locales couldn't be used due to modern structures around it. The costumes are beautiful, with every character in character. The accents affected by the mostly British cast is not overdone and doesn't get in the way. The cinematography is to die for. Brilliant, brilliant shots across the board.

In short, a beautiful film and through its flaws, a perfect mixture of two tragic lives.
53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4b09d14) out of 5 stars THE WHITE COUNTESS by James Ivory March 16 2006
By Claudette Flint - Published on
Format: DVD
THE WHITE COUNTESS by James Ivory and Ismael Merchant

I don't know why I felt the film was not a story but a situation. Maybe because of its slow pace. The spectator has the time to enjoy the splendid reconstitution of Shanghai of the 30's. Ivory's talent to generate a `very special atmosphere' makes me green with envy.

No visible sex, or violence, little action and yet the suspense builds to a crescendo driving you step by step towards a dreaded end. ("Oh my God, if it ends badly I die"). How is the gorgeous, blind, British diplomat going to avoid all the traps in front of him? (Caught in the mob running away from the Japanese army!) Argh! The scene where he stands alone in front of them! I was half way down my seat. How will the beautiful Russian countess react when her own family betrays her? I could not believe the ending! I had to climb back on my seat!! A rare stylish romantic film like they don't do anymore!
58 of 65 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4c63168) out of 5 stars Shanghai in the 1930s. Nice Atmosphere. But a Detached and Cursory Story. May 26 2006
By mirasreviews - Published on
Format: DVD
"The White Countess" was the final production of the creative team of James Ivory and Ismail Merchant, who died in May 2005. The director-producer duo is probably known best for its elegant and emotionally sharp period films, a canon to which "The White Countess" aspires. Written by Kazuo Ishiguro, "The White Countess" takes place in Shanghai, China, a city of extraordinary variety, refuge and playground for the world's exiles and expatriates, on the brink of Japanese invasion in 1936. White Russian Countess Sophia Belinskya (Natasha Richardson) works as a taxi dancer to support her young daughter and deceased husband's family, who live in poverty in Shanghai, dreaming of the elegant lives they lost to the Revolution. Todd Jackson (Ralph Fiennes) was a distinguished American diplomat before he lost his eyesight and family to violent accidents. Having acquired a certain recklessness, he wants to open a night club, where he will engineer the staff, entertainment and patrons to create a melodious and exciting blend of elements superior to any other club in Shanghai. Countess Sofia has the perfect blend of elegance and tragedy to be Jackson's "centerpiece". And she is only too happy to leave behind the desperation of the dance hall to become the hostess of The White Countess. So an uneasy relationship develops between these 2 people whose lives are dominated by loss.

"The White Countess" isn't a bad film, but it doesn't have much for the audience to grab hold of. The relationship between Todd Jackson and Countess Sofia is so distant that it doesn't engage us. We get a peek at the lives of exiled Russian nobility in Shanghai, but not enough information to learn much about that population. The re-creation of 1930s Shanghai is interesting. The ambience is conspicuous. But the relationships are unrealistic. The behavior of a Japanese imperialist named Mr. Matsuda (Hiroyuki Sanada) strains credibility beyond the breaking point. These characters are interesting, but they don't ring true. So the necessary empathy is not forthcoming. Natasha Richardson does have an enchanting presence in this role, however. The cast is certainly talented. And it's a family affair: Natasha Richardson is accompanied by her mother Vanessa Redgrave as Sofia's Aunt Vera and aunt Lynn Redgrave as Sofia's stern, ungrateful mother-in-law Olga. Sister-in-law Greshenka and daughter Katya are played by mother and daughter Madeleine Potter and Madeleine Daly. I hope to see a film someday that makes better use of the fascinating pre-war jumble of cultures in Shanghai. Natasha Richardson is reason to see "The White Countess". Like the Countess, she conveys the right combination of mystery, tragedy, and sensuality to keep our attention.

The DVD (Sony Pictures 2006): Bonus features include 3 featurettes and an audio commentary. "Behind the Scenes of The White Countess" (11 min) features interviews with director James Ivory and the cast in which they speak primarily about the film's characters. In "Making of The White Countess" (13 min), James Ivory, production designer Andrew Sanders, costume designer John Bright, choreographer Karole Armitage, and cinematographer Chris Doyle, among others, talk about recreating 1930s Shanghai in modern Shanghai. "A Tribute to Ismail Merchant" (13 min) is a bio of Merchant's film career and his maverick personality through archival interviews with Merchant, friends and colleagues. There is a good audio commentary by director James Ivory and actress Natasha Richardson that touches on many aspects of making the film: sets, photography, hair and make-up, casting in China, actors, etc. Richardson keeps the commentary moving along at a nice pace, prodding Ivory on a variety of subjects and discussing her own performance. Subtitles for the film are available in English and French.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4c63528) out of 5 stars Beautiful, Flawed, Sad, and Hopefull. Worth a viewing. March 8 2006
By Richard Coeur de Lion - Published on
Verified Purchase
I rushed to see this movie in Cambridge, when it first came around. Merchant-Ivory, the entire Redgrave clan, and Ralph Fiennes all come together to make this movie work. The screenplay is hardly the best work by the talented Kazuo Ishiguro; however, the actors are incredible. Natasha Richardson turns in a performance worthy of La Streep. Lynn Redgrave's character is so glacial in her lack of humanity that she could sink a dozen Titanics with a glance. Ralph Fiennes is equal parts Bogart and Belisarius. It was fascinating to watch his character evolve, and rediscover a place in the sun. Then there is the amazing Vanessa. Her performance is understated, dignified, and utterly human. I couldn't help thinking that if Marie Antoinette had had few of Vanessa Redgrave's talents; she might have been spared the guillotine. The satellite characters - particularly the refugee Jewish family are wonderful. In fact, without them the film would not have worked. As I said, this is a flawed movie, but it's still better than some of this year's Oscar nominees. If you want to watch a group of people emerge from old world, 19th century cocoons and begin the process of rekindling hope - then I say give "The White Countess" a chance.
52 of 64 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa4c63348) out of 5 stars Lost in Old Shanghai Dec 26 2005
By MICHAEL ACUNA - Published on
Based on the novel and written for the screen by the estimable Kazuo Ishiguro, "The White Countess" should be a lot better than it turns out to be. Perhaps because a novelist feels so close to his characters and therefore has a deep connection to his story, Ishiguro and by extension director James Ivory seem to be unable to judiciously edit where necessary
On the other hand when you have the graceful, beautiful Natasha Richardson as a Russian Countess down on her luck in late 1930's Shanghai making ends meet and supporting her horrible family (literally and figuratively as her aunt Lynn and mother play her aunt and mother here) by selling dances for a few can you go wrong?
Richardson saves this film from being a total disaster with her emotional, sad, seen-it-all and then seen-it-all again portrayal of a woman who had to give up everything: money, clothes, position, a country in order to save her life, the life of her daughter and the lives of her aunt and mother.
Except for the elegant performance of Richardson, "The White Countess" is pretty much a mess: even Ralph Fiennes, usually so good in this type of role; here as a former diplomat blinded by a freak accident that also killed his wife and daughter, is unable to make a connection to his over-written character and consequently with us also.
"The White Countess" is another story of a film with an exalted pedigree that fails to ignite into anything resembling a great film. As it is, it's a good film with a great central performance and I guess for this we should be grateful?