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Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker | DVD | (22/12/2003)
from £10.59 | Saving you £7.40 (41.10%) | RRP
One of his earliest pieces of choreography, Matthew Bourne's Nutcracker is also one of his most charming and imaginative. Moving the Christmas party from a comfortable middle-class home to a Dickensian orphanage whose proprietors starve their wards to spoil their own children, it then shifts to a wonderland where sweets and sugar are a none-too-subtle metaphor for sexual awakening. In both worlds, Clara (Etta Murfitt) has to struggle to be heroine, or even a participant, in her own story and her struggle for the muscular, sexy Alan Vincent with her bitchy rival Sugar (Soranne Curtin) is not resolved until the last moments of the ballet. Along the way, Bourne finds charming and sexy ways to make all of the well-known genre moments of the score fresh and new--the Chinese dancers are a bunch of daffy marshmallow girls in pink, for example, whose dance is all strutting cuteness. There is a truly stunning transformation scene at the beginning of the waltz, which like much else in the score becomes a complex ensemble in which all the character dancers have their own things to do. Bourne's Nutcracker has become a popular favourite, and deservedly so. On the DVD: Matthew Bourne's Nutcrackercomes to DVD with no additional features. It is presented in a 16:9 anamorphic ratio and has sumptuous sound in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and L-PCM Stereo that does full justice to the Royal Philharmonic's eloquent performance of the score. --Roz Kaveney
The Car Man | DVD | (24/12/2001)
from £14.94 | Saving you £2.22 (12.30%) | RRP
This latest dance version of Carmen comes courtesy of choreographer Matthew Bourne, who has devised his own scenario of Bizet’s opera set in a garage-diner in the American mid-West, circa 1960. The Car Man toured the UK in 2000 finishing with a four-month run to packed houses at the Old Vic. This film treatment details all the excitement of the occasion. The cinematography assists in capturing the atmosphere of Bourne’s treatment--film noir with allusions to Hitchcock--through employment of chiaroscuro. The use of the split-screen technique also enhances the cinematic feel. The music sounds seductive and full-bodied, befitting the new story line (Bourne calls it an “auto-erotic thriller”) in which an enigmatic stranger, Luca, walks into town seducing both Lana (Carmen) and Angelo (Don Jose). A swarthy individual, Luca looks an unlikely dancer until his first solo galvanises the company. The single stage set adapts into eight different permutations, taking us from diner through nightclub and prison and then out on the road in a cinematic finale where the Chevrolet cars of the period are destroyed in a pile up. The period look is further enhanced with the girls in tight-waisted colourful frocks and the men in Brando-esque T-shirts and jeans. The dance ensembles are an extraordinarily versatile group: classical, jazz, modern and flamenco seem natural expressions of their body movements. Will Kemp deserves a special mention for his sensitivite portrayal of Angelo. On the DVD: the soundtrack comes in a choice of stereo or 5.1. surround sound where the subtle employment of percussion instruments in the orchestration makes a telling effect. A picture gallery of 25 stills from the production and a 14-minute interview with Bourne expressing his initial doubt about doing another version of Carmen are further assets. He needn’t have had a qualm. This Car Man is destined to give much pleasure. --Adrian Edwards