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Masterpiece Theatre: My Family and Other Animals
Masterpiece Theatre My Family and Other Animals
Actor: Eugene Simon; Imelda Staunton; Tamzin Merchant; Russell Tovey; Matthew Goode; Kostas Tziotakis; Michael Yannatos; Omid Djalili; Olga Tournaki; Dimitris Kaberidis; David Armand; Antonis Antoniou; Chris Langham; George Couyas; Efi Papatheodorou; Yorgos Kota
Director: Sheree Folkson
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Television
NR     2006     1hr 30min

When the dreary English weather of 1935 gets to be too much for the eccentric Durrell family, they set off for the rustic, sun-drenched Greek island of Corfu, and the unknown. The lively clan is headed by Mrs. Durrell, a m...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Eugene Simon; Imelda Staunton; Tamzin Merchant; Russell Tovey; Matthew Goode; Kostas Tziotakis; Michael Yannatos; Omid Djalili; Olga Tournaki; Dimitris Kaberidis; David Armand; Antonis Antoniou; Chris Langham; George Couyas; Efi Papatheodorou; Yorgos Kota
Director: Sheree Folkson
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama, Television
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, British, Family Life, British Television
Studio: WGBH Boston
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 06/27/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 30min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 15
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

A Charming Adaptation But Too Short
D. A Wend | Buffalo Grove, IL USA | 04/10/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Readers of "My Family and Other Animals" might approach this BBC adaptation with some reluctance. How could the producers ever hope to convey the wisdom and humor of Gerald Durrell's book into 90 minutes? An ideal adaptation should probably be at least four hours, if not more but this film does not do badly.

The casting was well done with Imelda Stauton (who starred in Vera Drake) being a perfect choice for as Mrs. Durrell. Spiro and Theo appear exactly as I would picture them as are Larry's impossible friends. Gerald is well cast and his curiosity in nature is brought to the film but there is no time to deal with the animals individually. We can see that Gerald has an owl but we don't get any details about him. The scene with the scorpions is in the film and nicely brought off and the Rose-Beetle Man is perfectly done. The actor's have done a remarkable job in capturing the personalities of the Durrell family and the magical beauty of Corfu is nicely conveyed as Gerald investigates the island with his dog Roger.

There are so many humorous episodes for the writers to choose from that I am sure some viewers will be somewhat dismayed that their favorite was not select. The magpies have their five minutes in the film but their antics are not as clearly drawn as they are in the book. They do raid Larry's room but we do not learn about how Larry was trying to keep them out, and we do not get to see them calling after Spiro as he sets out on yet another errand.

So, I found this version of "My Family and Other Animals" to be a delight but I wish it was longer. I could not help but recalling episodes that were not included or cut short. I do recommend the film as it captures the essence of Gerald Durrell's book; it is just a slice of the book but a fairly good helping.

"A mildly nostalgic account of the natural history of the is
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 06/04/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Gerald Durrell grew up to be a famous naturalist, animal-collector and conservationist. Over his lifetime he wrote thirty-seven books, went on dozens of animal-collecting trips and presented numerous television shows including The Amateur Naturalist and Ourselves and Other Animals. For those who have read Durrell's books or at least know of him, the latest Masterpiece Theater film (currently screening on PBS) of his memoir My Family and Other Animals, will be a real treat.

Quirky, silly and also lovely to watch, the film stars Imelda Staunton as Gerald's mother and the hunky Matthew Goode as Larry, his older brother, and most of the action takes place in the picaresque island of Corfu. The Durrell family is indeed eccentric. Imbued with a sense of adventure and totally fed up with the gloomy English weather, they pack themselves off Corfu where they're soon adopted by Spiro, the only English-speaking taxi driver on the island (Omid Djalili).

Unfortunately Mum doesn't have much faith as a parent and she tends to let her collection of eccentric kids rule the roost. She spoils and indulges them. Larry (Goode) spends as much time a he can with a glass of wine and conversation as he does at his transportable typewriter, constantly passing acidic judgments over everyone else. Second son Leslie (Russell Tovey) thinks of himself as a big-time hunter, firing shots around whenever and wherever he can and always getting on everyone's nerves.

The teenage daughter fresh faced and blond haired Margo (Tamzin Merchant) thinks of nothing but boys, while the youngest 12-year-old Gerald (Eugene Simon) constantly brings home live animals to observe in cages in his room, much to the chagrin of Larry and the rest of the family - the scene where a couple of magpies take over Larry's bedroom is absolutely precious. Gerald spends most of his time spurning his mother's attempts to educate him; he'd prefer to run around the countryside, often sleeping outdoors observing nature with a cool and calculated wonderment.

Although there isn't much of a plot - most of the narrative momentum comes from moving from one villa to another - the film is never slow because of the wonderful characters, the quick writing, and the wonderful island vistas. The Durrells must not only come to terms with a new and unfamiliar culture, but they must also put up with each other's foibles, and much of the film is made up of how each family member clashes often with unforeseen results.

Into their oddball lives come various island characters who orbit around them, sometimes briefly, sometimes longer, most notable is the enigmatic Rose Beetle Man, (Dimitkis Kaberidis). Larry's whiny eccentric friends appall everyone, and Leslie shoots his gun off just once to often. Of course, it's 1935 and paradise can't last forever. War with Germany is looming and although Mom doesn't want to hear it, and neither do her unconventional flock, she realizes that eventually she must get them back to England.

Director Sheree Folkson certainly makes the most of he stunning Greek vistas, and the 1930's period detail, and one really gets the sense that the Durrell's really were living an idyllic existence. Subtly is the name of the game in this production - Staunton effectively downplays her eccentricities as do the other actors, consequently the family's odd quirks are endearing and never become irritating or grating.

My Family and Other Animals is an intelligent and comical film about the importance of family and also about tolerating one's sibling eccentricities. The Durrell family seems just content to just let it all happen and though many will wish that more of the family's mishaps had made it into the film, what is incorporated is still an affectionate and humorous treasure. Mike Leonard June 06.

Lynne P. Caldwell | Dadeville, AL USA | 04/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS is based on the autobiographical novel by Gerald Durrell, the famous naturalist, animal collector and conservationist. Born in 1926, he wrote 37 books, went on numerous animal-collecting trips and hosted many television shows. He even has several species and races named after him. MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS is based on his unconventional upbringing and his eccentric family during the time they left the cold weather of England for five years of an idyllic life in Corfu during the 1930's.

This film is narrated by the adult Gerald who, at the time, is a 12-year-old nature obsessed, future scientist. He has a menagerie of insects, birds and animals. His family includes a lovely sister Margo, gun-toting brothers Leslie and the pseudo intellectual author wannabe Larry. Along with their widowed and patient mother, this unusual family love their new life. This life includes new friends, the sun, and a relaxed, laid back atmosphere.

As the author himself writes: "This is the story of a five-year sojourn that I and my family made on the Greek island of Corfu. It was originally intended to be a mildly nostalgic account of the natural history of the island, but I made a grave mistake by introducing my family into the book in the first few pages. Having got themselves on paper, they then proceeded to establish themselves and invite various friends to share the chapters. It was only with the greatest difficulty, and by exercising considerable cunning, that I managed to retain a few pages here and there which I could devote exclusively to animals..."

The cast is absolutely perfect as is the lovely Grecian landscape. The characters were all perfectly fleshed out and the story was highly enjoyable. The book that this film is taken from is a favorite of young and old in Britain. It was also a best seller in the United States. I am sorry I have never heard of the book but am glad I got to view this delightful movie!"
A Trailer
C. G. Wood | London, England | 09/27/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This version of My Family and Other Animals is but a trailer for the far better and longer version starring Hannah Gordon and Brian Blessed. Yes, I know it was produced a long time afterwards but in my opinion, apart from the wonderful Rose Beetle Man it can't compete with the Joe Waters production with its screenplay by the masterly Charles Wood (Charge of the Light Brigade, Help, Iris). Of course the latter version had more time to enjoy the animal life and more time to explore character."