Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Prisoner of Honor|
Actors: Richard Dreyfuss, Oliver Reed, Peter Firth, Jeremy Kemp, Brian Blessed
Director: Ken Russell
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Television
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A Dreyfuss affair a fair 'Dreyfus affair'?
Francisco J. Calderon | Mexico City, Mexico | 10/09/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This is an accurate account of the famous (infamous, more likely)
Dreyfus affair, a scandal that nearly drove France to civil war at the
turn of the century. And it could have been a good movie too, if
director Ken Rusell hadn't overdone it miserably by pretending
"the whole thing was a comedy"!The film manages to get
its facts right (a rare acomplishment for a Hollywood movie), features
an elaborate production, with fine costumes and sets (although its
'Paris' resembles London), and boasts a great cast led by Richard
Dreyfuss, who gives an above-his-usual performance as the officer
trying against all odds to save Dreyfus, while disliking him
personally for being a Jew.Why, then, spoil it with all those
cartoonish "comic" details that serve no purpose whatsoever,
except to ruin the whole picture?: A French general, at work, dresses
as Zeus for a portrait (its painter complete with pointy moustaches
and a red beret!) later on display in his office. Another general (a
fat, grumpy, bearded lout who looks a lot like Bud Spencer, and sinks
every scene he's into) sings child-like racist songs with his junior
officers at an elegant military club that seems to accept all ranks
inside its halls, for one sees in one room the entire French army,
from maréchales to privates, getting drunk, pounding tables and
shouting at each other in their messed up uniforms. There's a War
Minister serving cake to his subordinates, a chanteuse lampooning 'La
Marsellaise' (the French applaud!), a German officer -pickelhaube and
all- dancing with a male spy in drag, and a sinister meeting inside a
church, with generals sniggering as they cross themselves. My, oh my!
Aren't these the bad guys!Seems to me, the director tried so hard
to stress the point, he completely missed it. ....
An excellent film with an objective perspective
Old Grumbler | Canada | 07/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is a very pleasant surprise. Usually movies based on the so-called antisemitic incidents tend to be schmalzy and overdone, with bad guys badly demonized and good guys godly idealized (see, for example, "The Fixer" or "Schindler's List".) "Prisoner of Honor" does not suffer from such shortcomings - Picquard's dislike of Jews is not passed over, and reasonable motives of some of his opponents are not suppressed, either. Richard Dreyfus (one of the film's producers) is truly excellent in the role of Colonel Picquard, and the supporting crew (mostly British actors, including the late Oliver Reed) does a very good job indeed. The ironic touch, so typical of the director Ken Russell ("The Devils", "Mahler"), which drew the undeserved ire of the previous reviewer, definitely adds color and nerve to the entire show. All in all, a film truly worth watching."
David Lim | Singapore | 08/24/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD has poor sound reproduction, and does not have subtitles in English to help make out what is being said."
Paul Ess. | Holywell, N.Wales,UK. | 05/16/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"'Prisoner of Honor' is Ken Russell's gloomy take on The Dreyfus Affair - a Military secrets scandal which dangerously divided France at the end of the 19th Century.
Made for Cable by HBO and assembling a magnificent one-off cast, Russell dons his serious(-ish) cap for a delve into the foggy, treacherous worlds of counter-espionage and institutionalised racism.
Richard Dreyfuss is excellent as Picquart, an anti-Semitic staff colonel assigned to confirm the guilt of Alfred Dreyfus - a Jewish Artillery officer consigned to Devil's Island for allegedly selling secrets to the nasty Prussians.
Depending on your point of view, Russell's relatively unfussy telling of this complicated tale, is either tragically disappointing or a minor triumph. There's definite Russell impetuosity to some of the rioting crowd sequences, and the bastardisation of the La Marseillaise during a sleazy cabaret scene is typical of his bludgeoning naivety when it comes to anything political, but the rest is pretty subdued.
Without question, 'POH' is exquisite to look at; Russell and cinematographer Mike Southon have fashioned a ravishing vista with which to exhibit all the murky chicanery and dishonour in eye-caressing focus. It looks like a complete location shoot (even though it can't be), and no-one does top-hat-and-tails quite like Russell; the extras - as usual - look splendid.
Supporting cast includes Oliver Reed, almost sedate as a scheming General, who initially supports Piquart before patriotically betraying him; and Colin Firth is good and sweaty as a slippery Major, lusting after Piquart's position.
Russell is in a no-win situation with a film like this. His critics laud his restraint while his fans bemoan his lack of excess (a similar fate befell his BBC adaptation of Lawrence's 'Lady Chatterley's Lover.' A painful example of a usually uncompromising, mono-directional phenomenon falling between two stools), but I think 'POH' stands up.
Ron Hutchinson's script cries out for both shearing and sharpening - two elements where Russell expertly obliges.
'POH' is good without ever approaching genius; and while it's quite obviously a character driven actors piece, it certainly looks and feels like a Ken Russell film - albeit a minor one - and is therefore worthy of at least one attentive viewing."