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Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2005)

A Cock and Bull Story (original title)
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Director Michael Winterbottom (Northam) attempts to shoot the adaptation of Laurence Sterne's essentially unfilmable novel, "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman."

Writers:

Laurence Sterne (novel), Frank Cottrell Boyce (screenplay) (as Martin Hardy)
2 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Steve Coogan ... Tristram Shandy / Walter Shandy / Steve Coogan
Rob Brydon ... Capt. Toby Shandy / Rob Brydon
Keeley Hawes ... Elizabeth / Keeley Hawes
Shirley Henderson ... Susannah
Raymond Waring ... Trim
Conal Murphy Conal Murphy ... Young Tristram Shandy - Age 6
Joe Williams Joe Williams ... Young Tristram Shandy - Age 9
Paul Kynman ... Obadiah
Mark Tandy ... London Doctor
Mary Healey ... Midwife
Dylan Moran ... Dr. Slop
Jack Shepherd ... Surgeon
David Walliams ... Parson
Jeremy Northam ... Mark
Benedict Wong ... Ed
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Storyline

Two actors, as their make up is applied, talk about the size of their parts. Then into the film: Laurence Sterne's unfilmable novel, Tristram Shandy, a fictive autobiography wherein the narrator, interrupted constantly, takes the entire story to be born. The film tracks between "Shandy" and behind the scenes. Size matters: parts, egos, shoes, noses. The lead's girlfriend, with their infant son, is up from London for the night, wanting sex; interruptions are constant. Scenes are shot, re-shot, and discarded. The purpose of the project is elusive. Fathers and sons; men and women; cocks and bulls. Life is amorphous, too full and too rich to be captured in one narrative. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Because everyone loves an accurate period piece. See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 January 2006 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

£2,800,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£332,582 (United Kingdom), 22 January 2006, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$60,886, 29 January 2006, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,253,413
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Stephen Rodrick was on set to interview Michael Winterbottom for the New York Times magazine (published on 3 July 2005) when he was roped in to appear in the film. See more »

Quotes

Steve Coogan: Given that the story's about Walter's love for his son, I really think that Walter should be there at the birth.
Joe: It's the 18th Century. Men just didn't do that. You're a 21st Century man, but Walter can't be.
Steve Coogan: He talks to the fucking camera. He can be emotional. If you saw Walter for an instant holding the baby in his arms, then you would forgive him all his flaws.
Joe: Yeah, but it would look terrible. It'd be like the scene in Robin Hood where Kevin Costner delivers a baby.
Steve Coogan: Because he's got a ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Throughout the closing credits, Rob and Steve talk about how they use techniques of various other actors. See more »

Alternate Versions

Just as with "In This World," the British DVD features a 1.78:1 transfer of the film. Although the film was shot for release in theaters at 2.35:1, because it was made on DV, the total space of the filmed image was 1.78. The film was masked for theatrical release, as the director intended. However, for DVD release, the film was transferred open matte. Again, like "In This World," only the American DVD respects the theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. See more »

Connections

References Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (1974) See more »

Soundtracks

Over the Waves
Composed by Juventino Rosas (as J. Rosas)
Arranged by W. Warren
Published by and courtesy of The Hudson Record Company
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Cocky and bullish
12 January 2006 | by skymoviesSee all my reviews

How do you film an unfilmable book? Well, you can either make it up as you go along, as David Cronenberg did with Naked Lunch, or you take this approach and make a film about a film crew making a film of an unfilmable book. The tricky tome in question here is The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentlemen - a bawdy work of wit and wonderment penned in 1760 by clergyman Laurence Sterne.

Steve Coogan plays Tristram - even though he's not born by the end of the book - as well as Tristram's father Walter... and himself. Or rather, a semi-fictional version of himself. Rob Brydon also stars as himself and Walter's brother - Tristram's Uncle Toby. There are lots of other familiar British TV actors either playing themselves playing other characters or simply playing characters who interact with the stars of the film-within-the-film (for example, Ian Hart plays the screenwriter but doesn't play Ian Hart). And Gillian Anderson makes an appearance. Confused? Don't worry, you won't be.

As the writer and director strive to retain the spirit of Shandy compromises have to be made to allow for star egos, historical accuracy (Mark Williams is excellent as a pain-in-the-arse military consultant), and a miniscule budget. In one cracking scene, the crew watch the 'rushes' of the underwhelming battle scene ("Look at that! There are, literally, tens of people..."), leaving the director in despair and the costume designer in tears.

The seemingly complicated set-up actually makes a lot of sense, with Coogan sending up the naughty-boy persona created for him by the British press and Brydon sending up Coogan, while the film itself sends up the movie-making process. Viewers will be frequently amused but never bewildered as Michael Winterbottom pulls it all together with panache.

Anyone unfamiliar with the novel won't learn much, but it matters not. Bawdy and barmy, A Cock And Bull Story embodies Sterne's work perfectly. Coogan gamely shows his vulnerable side (or maybe that's just good acting?) and shows terrific rapport with Brydon, who steals the show with marvellously mundane banter and spot-on impersonations of Coogan-as-Alan Partridge and Roger Moore. Give that man his own movie.


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