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Peter Brook's The Mahabharata
Peter Brook's The Mahabharata
Actors: Erika Alexander, Maurice Bénichou, Amba Bihler, Lou Bihler, Urs Bihler
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television
NR     2002     5hr 18min

One of the great masterpieces of world literature comes to vivid life in an elaborate production from acclaimed theater and film innovator Peter Brook (Marat/Sade, Lord of the Flies). This collection of ancient Sanskrit st...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Erika Alexander, Maurice Bénichou, Amba Bihler, Lou Bihler, Urs Bihler
Creators: Abigail Franklin, Christine Raspillère, Edward Myerson, Harvey Lichtenstein, Jean-Claude Carrière, Marie-Hélène Estienne, Peter Brook, Vedavyas
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television
Studio: Image Entertainment
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen
DVD Release Date: 11/26/2002
Original Release Date: 02/15/1990
Theatrical Release Date: 02/15/1990
Release Year: 2002
Run Time: 5hr 18min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 9
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

Indian philosophy come to life
M. Lilliquist | Bellingham, Washington USA | 10/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This excellent multinational production of the Mahabharata feels almost Shakespeaerean at times - the language so eloquent and poetic, the themes so profound and universal, the action so epic. Truly great literature brought to film.Briefly, the Mahabharata is a tale of two rival sets of brothers, cousins to eachother, each born into royalty and with divinely guided paths in life. The result, however, is a great war, death, destruction, but a final glimmer of light preserved. Vishnu after Shiva.
Peter Brook's five-hour version of the Mahabharata is theatrical, philosophical, spare, poetic. It is rendered in gentle, nearly monochromatic hues and with often silent backgrounds, interspersed with periods of hauntingly beautiful music. The actors are gifted, if a bit too grand and mythic in their presentation. As in the written versions, the characters motives are seen to be, in turns, grounded and human, and unearthly and enlightened.Such a powerful mix, and such a penetrating vision of life -- all from over three thousand years ago!I highly recommend this film, anbd the special features of the DVD make it that much more valuable."
Captures the essence of the Mahabharata
puthupa | New York, NY United States | 02/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I too grew up hearing stories of the Mahabharata and watched this adaptation on the BBC a few years back. This is theatre at its best, and it truly captures the essence of the Mahabharata. The stories and concepts are all covered, but those who are expecting an all Indian cast wearing traditional garb will be sorely disappointed. Hinduism is a way of life, a faith of choice and plurality. These ideas are reinforced with a multicultural cast. When I first heard that it was not an all Indian cast, my expectations for the play dropped dramatically, but I can assure you, what Peter Brook has done is astonishing. I look forward to watching this with my children, though after they have been inundated with bedtime stories from the Mahabharata."
ABRIDGED VERSION!!! 1/2 of the content has been cut!
S. Mitchell | 12/04/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)

"This is a heavily abridged version of Peter Brook's wonderful film. About 1/2 the film has been cut from this version. I owned the VCR version of this movie which is 325 minutes long. I had assumed this was a long-awaited reprint of an out-of-print classic. Instead, this is a HEAVILY abridged (170-minute) version of the show.

I bought this as a birthday present for my husband, after five minutes of watching painful cut after painful cut, we had to turn the film off. I will be returning it ASAP.

I have NO IDEA why the studio did this. should mark this as an ABRIDGED VERSION.

I can only hope that the studio comes to their senses and released a version of the DVD that is the full 325 minutes, because the VCR tapes I bought 14 years ago are wearing out..."
Finally on DVD. Peter Brook's Mahabharata
S. Mitchell | 11/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The Mahabharata is the longest poem ever written (15 times the length of the Bible) and literally means ''the great story of the Bharatas'' (the legendary first king of India). It begins when a young prince meets an old poet, Vyasa, who says that he is going to tell him the history of his race and the history of mankind. Ganesha (who has a human body and an elephant head) becomes the poet's scribe. The narration includes the origins of the human species, Vyasa's birth and other major events. But the story focuses on the rivalry between two groups of cousins (the Pandavas and the Kauravas), how they were growing up, how the developed their rivalries and what kind of values, preferences and "life styles" they were developing. Then comes a game of dice between the two groups, to be followed by the exile of the Pandavas into the forest and their planned revenge, including the organization of a big army. The entire poem seems to be a long preparation for the "pearl part", the Bhagavad Gita, which takes place just before the big battle between the cousins. This is a private long dialogue between Arjuna (brother number three and in charge of the army of the Pandavas) and Krishna (who serves him as his charioteer and in fact is the human incarnation of the God Vishnu), while the two armies are eager to start killing each other. The main subject is guidance to straightforward and resolute action. To present the quintessence of such long and complex epic in 330 minutes is a tremendous challenge. Peter Brook has the credentials for such enterprise. He was director of the Royal Shakespeare Company and has been for many years director of the International Center of Theatre Creation in Paris. He has worked in many projects with Jean-Claude Carriere (President of the French School for Film and Television). Carriere wrote a mini-script of the Mahabharata (Methuen Drama, 1988) and Brooks translated it into English. The poem came to New York in a nine-hour full stage version (Brooklyn Academy of Music, 1987). It was followed by a six-hour film version which was telecasted in Europe in 1989 and by PBS in 1991. Finally, there was a three-hour movie version which was presented at movie theaters. The 330 minutes version was available in an impeccable Laser videodisc format and I anticipate is the one made on DVD. The cast is composed of a selected group of 42 international actors (India, USA, Burkina-Faso, Japan, Vietnam, Italy, England, Senegal, ....etc.). The music was composed by Toshi Tsuchitori; the songs were interpreted by Sarmila Roy (there is a beautiful CD with the film music)."