Paul Reisner, a young doctor, becomes a researcher in a prestigious medical institute. He feels he has a chance to be part of a movement of unending progress in science and civilization. ... See full summary »
One shot shows a stagehand turning a winch to lift Mary Tudor when she's playing Cupid. When she's being lowered, a shot shows the stagehand turning the winch in the same direction as previously. See more »
An excellent introduction to the music of Henry Purcell and an interesting commentary on Restoration England
Like many others, I guess, I made a point of taping (such a 20th century expression) this programme from the air when it had its TV premiere in Australia in 1995.
I can't count the number of times I've re-watched it. Each time I do, some different aspect of the treatment or the story come to the fore. I agree that, at first, the 'play within a play' approach can be a little off-putting. So can the direct commentary on UK political life.
Sometimes it becomes a little tiring that UK playwrights and filmmakers of the late 1980s and 1990s had such a thing about Margaret Thatcher and her politics. In 'Billy Elliot' it was the coal mine closures, in 'England, My England' it was the poll tax protests. Maybe I have the luxury of not being British (well, not quite, just an Anglo Australian with a British cultural upbringing, hence the love of Purcell), but it did not resonate particularly closely with me. But, then again, I understood the message.
The treatment of Restoration England and the musical life of Purcell is amazingly well handled. You could almost believe that Peyps and Dryden were addressing us from the screen. Colwell's Charles II is utterly convincing. Charles is at once a sympathetic and pathetic character.... sincerely concerned for his kingdom and people, yet given over to his own pleasures and concerns.
As for Harry, what can I say? As presented as a man on screen, and in the music we hear, he is the unsurpassed master of the English baroque. The selected orchestral and choral works, though tending to the popular, fit the scenes perfectly and add to the sense of wonder at his talent.
For those who've not enjoyed this movie, and who are fans of Purcell or baroque music generally, all I can say is, see it! You'll be rewarded.
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