Aria (1987)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Music  |  July 1988 (USA)
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Ten short pieces directed by ten different directors, including Ken Russell, Jean-Luc Godard, Robert Altman, Bruce Beresford, and Nicolas Roeg. Each short uses an aria as soundtrack/sound (... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
King Zog (segment "Un ballo in maschera")
Stephanie Lane ...
Baroness (segment "Un ballo in maschera")
Roy Hyatt ...
Chauffeur (segment "Un ballo in maschera")
Sevilla Delofski ...
Maid (segment "Un ballo in maschera")
Ruth Halliday ...
Companion (segment "Un ballo in maschera")
Arthur Cox ...
Major (segment "Un ballo in maschera")
Dennis Holmes ...
Colonel (segment "Un ballo in maschera")
Paul Brightwell ...
Assassin (segment "Un ballo in maschera")
Frank Baker ...
Assassin (segment "Un ballo in maschera")
Chris Hunter ...
Assassin (segment "Un ballo in maschera")
Nicola Swain ...
Marie (segment "La virgine degli angeli")
Jackson Kyle ...
Travis (segment "La virgine degli angeli")
Marianne McLoughlin ...
Kate (segment "La virgine degli angeli")
Marion Peterson ...
Les Jeunes Filles (segment "Armide")
Valérie Allain ...
Les Jeunes Filles (segment "Armide")


Ten short pieces directed by ten different directors, including Ken Russell, Jean-Luc Godard, Robert Altman, Bruce Beresford, and Nicolas Roeg. Each short uses an aria as soundtrack/sound (Vivaldi, Bach, Wagner), and is an interpretation of the particular aria. Written by Ed Sutton <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Ten great directors. One unforgettable film. The most sensual experience you'll ever have in a movie theater. See more »


Comedy | Drama | Music


R | See all certifications »




| | |

Release Date:

July 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ária  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$1,028,679 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Woody Allen declined when he was approached to direct a part of this film due to schedule problems. See more »


Les Jeunes Filles: [Armide segment] He looks like he's made for love. He hasn't found my eyes charming enough. He hasn't found my eyes charming enough.
Les Jeunes Filles: O how I'd love to hate him.
See more »


References Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) See more »


(Entracte) - Suite des Vents
from "Les Boréades (Acte 3)"
Performed by English Baroque Soloists
Conducted by John Eliot Gardiner
segment "Les Boreades"
See more »

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User Reviews

Some of it is extraordinary, some of it is awful
25 December 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's interesting to see what different directors will do when they are told, "make a short film based upon a famous opera." It's like looking through someone's really get a sense for who they are.

Based upon what I've seen here, here's what I think about each director and their segment:

Nicolas Roeg - Always an experimental guy, but, by nature, experiments often fail. Such is the case with Roeg's segment, which perplexingly casts his wife Thresa Russell as a (male) fascist ruler about to be assassinated. I have no idea what he was thinking, but the segment doesn't work at all.

Charles Sturridge - This guy must have major skeletons in his closet. It's the story of three children, sadly watching a replay of themselves being killed in a car accident on TV, the result of taking their parents' car out for an ill-advised drive. It's a beautiful, intensely sad sequence, one of the best in the movie.

Jean-Luc Godard - Never known for being subtle. This is the WORST of the movies. If you can't figure out that it's about sexual frustration, go live in a cave. It takes something truly special to make two gorgeous women parading around naked to be so mind-numbingly boring.

Julien Temple - Mainstream director somehow having backed into the arthouse scene. This entertaining bit of absurdity plays like an elaborate Saturday Night Live sketch, with a husband and wife out cheating on each other at the same hotel. It's funny and sexy, and surprisingly at home with the more cerebral segments.

Bruce Beresford - Great respect of love, sex and sensuality. Pleasant enough, basically the story of a woman (Elizabeth Hurley) giving herself to her lover for the first time. Nice buns on Elizabeth, but it's a wonderful little sequence regardless. Gorgous photograaphy.

Robert Altman - Tell this guy to do whatever he wants, and he'll be at a loss as to what he wants to do. Utterly pointless, boring and irritating short about the inmates of an asylum sitting in a theatre awaiting the night's performance. Nothing but a series of swooping camera shots and people acting crazy. Really bad.

Franc Roddam - Pessimistic and cynical, especially when it comes to love. Beautifully shot sequence about two young lovers who travel to Las Vegas to have one last night together before committing suicide. Subtly gives us hints as to why they do what they do (life is a pointless series of tragedies which leads up to old age), which makes the sequence all the more heart-breaking. Bridget Fonda's film debut, and it seems she was pretty enthusiastic about taking off her clothes right off the bat. Nothing wrong with that!

Ken Russell - Seems to have known most segments would be deadly serious and pretentious, so decided just to goof off. Russell fans will love this sequence, others will probably just be bewildered. Nothing to read into here, a woman is on the operating table after being in a car accident, and has hallucinations about being adorned with jewels as opposed to being stitched back together. Well shot and genuinely imaginative.

Derek Jarman - Simplicity is the key. An old woman thanks happy thoughts of her younger days as an actress. That's it. Simple, charming, moving.

Bill Bryden - Let's hear it for the has-been. A dying actor (John Hurt) performs the famous opera from Pagliacci (the sad clown) to an empty theater, after which he drops dead. It's a brutally sad sequence about the devastation a performer feels after they have been forgotten by the public.

Overall, it's an interesting movie. The girls' bare bottoms and guys' ripped pecs of Godard's sequence will help both men and women get through it, but Roeg's and Altman's misfires will have you reaching for the fast-forward button.

23 of 31 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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