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The Discovery of Heaven (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000110474
Added by: David Beckett
Added on: 21/11/2008 15:56
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    The Discovery of Heaven

    5 / 10


    Aside from Left Luggage, Dutch director Jeroen Krabbé has only made one other film, this in 2001 thought apparently he has another project in pre-production. He seems to spend his time acting, and stars in both of the films which he directed. In this he plays the angel Gabriel who, with another, is charged by God to bring the Ten Commandments back to Heaven as he is tired of the human race and finds them undeserving of the stone tablets.

    The problem is that angels can't descend to earth so the two angels are given seventeen Earth years to manipulate proceedings so that a human can do the job. They orchestrate a meeting between Onno (Stephen Fry) and Max (Greg Wise) who become firm friends and fall in love with the same woman, Ada (Flora Montgomery). Space-time continuum be damned, they have sex with her at the same time, though in different places, and she becomes pregnant.

    The child is a genius and has piercing blue eyes and, because his parentage is unknown, spends his formative years with Max's family in Copenhagen as Onno is following in the family footsteps as a politician, living in Amsterdam. As Quinten grows up he has vivid dreams and visions, drawing places that he's never seen, all thanks to the guiding hands above him.

    This was released in mainland Europe and travelled to a couple of film festivals but, as far as I can tell, has never been shown in the UK in any form. It is structured like a four piece TV mini-series, starting with the "Beginning of the Beginning", moving onto the "End of the Beginning", then the "Beginning of the End" and then the "End of the End", roughly in four thirty minute segments.

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    A pretty good, though a little soft, transfer with some excellent location work in such places as Amsterdam and Israel. The film is handsomely shot and there are some good uses of CGI but the attempt to age Onno by putting a false beard on Stephen Fry fails miserably.

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    Only a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track with no subtitles but this isn't a massive problem as it is largely dialogue dominated and the actors speak clearly enough.

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    Extra Features

    A pretty basic package with six minutes of pre-CGI footage, some deleted scenes and a trailer.

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    The Discovery of Heaven is based on a novel by Dutch author Harry Mulisch (apparently a hefty tome) and the synopsis almost lends itself to comedy - it's not a million miles away from Kevin Smith's film Dogma or Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's book Good Omens - had Jeroen Krabbé taken a tongue-in-cheek approach this could have been much more watchable than it was.

    As I noted in my review of Left Luggage, he uses heavy sentimentality and caricatures rather than subtlety and well drawn characters and this is the case here. The film is interesting enough, with a good premise but is just not interesting or involving enough to keep your attention through the 127 minute running time.

    Stephen Fry is always good to watch and does his best here - it was fun to see that he was the first of the Jeeves and Wooster team to walk with a cane on screen - but the dialogue is a little clunky and you never get the sense of his linguistics background - if any actor can impress with his use of the English language, it's Fry.

    This is the sort of film that you could watch on a Saturday evening and not think too much about, but I wouldn't rush out to buy it - maybe it will have an audience amongst those who enjoyed it first time around in the Netherlands.

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