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Dean Spanley ( My Talks with Dean Spanley )

1 rating: 5.0
A movie directed by Toa Fraser

Great Britain released, PAL/Region 2 DVD:it WILL NOT play on standard US DVD player. You need multi-region PAL/NTSC DVD player to view it in USA/Canada: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 2.0 ),English ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ),English ( Subtitles ),ANAMORPHIC … see full wiki

Tags: Movies
Director: Toa Fraser
1 review about Dean Spanley ( My Talks with Dean Spanley...

The curmudgeon and the cur

  • Oct 3, 2009
Rating:
+5
DEAN SPANLEY is a film with elements of drama, comedy and fantasy, a joint British-New Zealand production based on a 1936 novella by Lord Dunsany. It was directed by New Zealander Toa Fraser and stars Peter O'Toole, Jeremy Northam, Sam Neill, and Bryan Brown, with an original soundtrack by New Zealander Don McGlashan.

The story is worth summarizing: O'Toole plays the curmudgeonly Horatio Fisk, a widower who inflicts his foul moods on everyone near him. His son, Henslowe Fisk (Northam), bravely visits his father once a week. Desperate for something different to do with the impossible-to-please old man, Fisk Junior suggests a lecture about the transmigration of souls. At that event the Fisks meet Dean Spanley (Neill), a local churchman. Henslowe strikes up an association with the eccentric Spanley and discovers that the Dean has a passion for a rare Hungarian wine. While under its spell, the Dean reveals details of his previous incarnation -- as a dog.

How does this incredible story link to the elderly Fisk's youth? The tale plays out and the old man taps into the love and emotion of his younger life, breaking through his crusty defenses.

The film's setting in Edwardian England gives lots of scope for sombre but elegant costuming and moody night scenes--and eccentric characters. O'Toole, Northam and Neill are marvelous; the entire production is classy and mesmerizing. I was enchanted by this movie when I chose it from the menu on a trans-Pacific flight. It had successful pre-release showings at film festivals in Toronto, London and Korea, and it recently won Best Film and six other categories in the New Zealand Film and TV Awards. The distribution of DEAN SPANLEY in the US is limited, and at this time Amazon carries only the PAL/Region 2 format which won't play on standard North American equipment.

If you haven't seen this unusual and charming film--and you probably haven't--you should do yourself a favor and find it. It's a labor of love by talented people with a passionate commitment to film-making, and the viewer's reward is an escape to a world where we find ourselves (like the Queen in Alice in Wonderland) believing "six impossible things before breakfast."

Linda Bulger, 2009

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