Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story

( 4 )

Overview

A group of actors and filmmakers set out to adapt an "unfilmable" classic novel -- but find that their own petty concerns get in the way -- in this satirical comedy. Laurence Sterne's 18th century novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman told the story of its priggish title character from the moment of conception onward, with a bevy of digressions, distractions, and unfinished anecdotes. In adapting the work for the screen, director Michael Winterbottom chose to stay true to its anarchic spirit: ...
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Overview

A group of actors and filmmakers set out to adapt an "unfilmable" classic novel -- but find that their own petty concerns get in the way -- in this satirical comedy. Laurence Sterne's 18th century novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman told the story of its priggish title character from the moment of conception onward, with a bevy of digressions, distractions, and unfinished anecdotes. In adapting the work for the screen, director Michael Winterbottom chose to stay true to its anarchic spirit: the film begins as a mostly straightforward adaptation of events in Sterne's writings, and then veers into a tale about the making of the film itself. Steve Coogan plays Tristram Shandy, who narrates his own life story, beginning with his slightly botched birth, overseen by an addled doctor Dylan Moran and his reticent father, Walter also played by Coogan. Constantly quarreling with his battle-scarred brother, Toby Rob Brydon, Walter Shandy has an epiphany when he holds his newborn son; however, before that moment can occur, the film switches into the present day, where Coogan and Brydon, playing themselves, bicker over costuming and the size of their roles in the film. The rest of the film's crew has their own concerns. Director Mark Jeremy Northam is trying to figure out how to secure a big Hollywood star Gillian Anderson for a supporting role and shoot a battle scene on a budget. The film's brainy production assistant Jennie Naomie Harris worries that their adaptation is leaving out the best parts of the book, as she nurses a crush on one of the cast members. All the while, Coogan tries to deflect a tabloid reporter's inquiry into his strip-club escapades, and attempts to pacify the concerns of his girlfriend, Jenny Kelly MacDonald. Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story had its North American premiere at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Complete Tony Wilson interview with Steve Coogan; Deleted scenes; Scene extensions; Behind-the-scenes footage; Audio commentary with Steve Coogan & Rob Brydon; Theatrical trailer
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Laurence Sterne’s proto-modernist 18th-century novel Tristram Shandy is tough enough as a read -- turning it into a film would seem virtually impossible. But director Michael Winterbottom (9 Songs) utilizes the clever device of focusing on a cast and crew, encamped at an English country estate, attempting to adapt a screen version of Sterne’s notoriously free-form book. Actors Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, and Gillian Anderson play themselves playing characters from the tale of disaster-prone Tristram, his colorful uncle Toby, and the beguiling Widow Wadman. As the film-within-a-film’s director (Jeremy Northam) and screenwriter (Ian Hart) struggle to find an acceptable approach to the material, various offstage factors -- jealousy among actors, conflicts between crew members, ill-advised flirtations -- combine to further endanger the project’s completion. Nothing if not self-conscious, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story announces itself as proudly out-of-the-ordinary, a delightfully perplexing experiment that adventurous movie lovers could well find exhilarating.
All Movie Guide
For his second faux-documentary collaboration with Steve Coogan in four years, Michael Winterbottom presents perhaps his most ambitious film to date -- a self-reflexive narrative about filming, or the failure to film, a classic bit of literary whimsy whose narrator is not even born for much of his own "autobiography." Not surprisingly, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story takes on the unstructured quality of its source material. This works -- up to a point. Winterbottom ensconces the audience in a delirious array of ironies and conundrums, fits and starts, and minor dramas on the set, but then kind of gives up on the film within the film. Instead, he shifts his second half to an inn where the cast and crew are staying, highlighting their petty squabbles and moments of ugly vanity -- which are supposed to be "real," since certain actors Coogan, Rob Brydon, Gillian Anderson are playing "themselves." While this portion is entertaining in its own right, the audience can't help but miss the promise of the first half, in which an adult Shandy narrates his own birth, among other clever bits. After their work together on 24 Hour Party People, Coogan is clearly on board with his director's agenda -- it's quite sporting that he plays himself as an egotistical letch, even allowing "Steve Coogan" to be plagued by a sex scandal. But ultimately, the back-room dealings of movie industry people is not as interesting a goal as Winterbottom set out to achieve, and at its worst, feels a tad self-congratulatory. Of course, this shifting of narrative gears is part of Winterbottom's winking acknowledgement that the novel is, indeed, unfilmable. The director adeptly juggles all these levels of meaning, but after laying some terrific groundwork, Tristram Shandy doesn't have quite the sublime follow through its audience might expect.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/16/2013
  • UPC: 883316778548
  • Original Release: 2005
  • Rating:

  • Source: Hbo Archives
  • Region Code: 1
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:34:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 20,026

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Steve Coogan Tristram Shandy/Walter Shandy/Himself
Rob Brydon Toby Shandy/Rob Brydon
Raymond Waring Corporal Trim
Dylan Moran Dr. Slop/Dylan Moran
Keeley Hawes Elizabeth Shandy/Keeley Hawes
Gillian Anderson Widow Wadman/Gillian Anderson
Naomie Harris Jennie
Kelly MacDonald Jenny
Jeremy Northam Mark
James Fleet Simon
Mark Williams Ingoldsby
Shirley Henderson Susannah/Shirley Henderson
Ian Hart Joe
Kieran O'Brien Gary
Stephen Fry Patrick Curator/Parson Yorick
Anthony H. Wilson TV Interviewer
Roger Allam Adrian
Ronni Ancona Anita
Elizabeth Berrington Debbie
Ashley Jensen Lindsey
David Walliams Parson
Greg Wise Greg
Benedict Wong Ed
Technical Credits
Michael Winterbottom Director
Jeff Abberley Executive Producer
Julia Blackman Executive Producer
Frank Cottrell Boyce Screenwriter
Wendy Brazington Casting, Co-producer
Peter Christelis Editor
Andrew Eaton Producer
Martin Hardy Screenwriter
John Paul Kelly Production Designer
Marese Langan Makeup
Emma Macdevitt Art Director
Barrie McCulloch Asst. Director
Erik Nordgren Score Composer
Henry Normal Executive Producer
Michael Nyman Score Composer
Kate Ogborn Executive Producer
Anita Overland Co-producer
Tracey Scoffield Executive Producer
David M. Thompson Executive Producer
Charlotte Walter Costumes/Costume Designer
Stuart Wilson Sound/Sound Designer
Marcel Zyskind Cinematographer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story
1. One-upmanship [:16]
2. The Manner Of My Birth [3:27]
3. A Very Fine Name Indeed [18:12]
4. In Utero [5:22]
5. Life And Opinions [8:15]
6. Opinions And Life [15:15]
7. The Widow Wadman [8:31]
8. Gentleman's Night [3:42]
9. Paternal Love [9:27]
10. The End [5:06]
11. Cock And Bull [8:48]
12. Credits [1:54]
13. Chapter 13 [2:17]
14. Chapter 14 [3:32]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story
   Play Movie
   Chapters
   Special Features
      Complete Tony Wilson Interview With Steve Coogan
      Deleted Scenes
         The Demise Of Tristram
         Flinging Up Baby
         Poor Notices
         Play All
      Scene Extensions
         In Makeup
         Rob Brydon In Character
         Favorite Porn Star Names
         More Steve And Rob In The Theater
         Play All
      Behind-The-Scenes Footage
         Night Shoot With the Sealed Knot Re-enactors
         A Tour Of Shandy Hall, Laurence Sterne's Home
         Play All
      Audio Commentary With Steve Coogan & Rob Brydon
         Audio Commentary With Steve Coogan & Rob Brydon: On
         Audio Commentary With Steve Coogan & Rob Brydon: Off
      Theatrical Trailer
   Languages
      Audio
         English 5.1
      Subtitles
         English Subtitles: On
         Spanish Subtitles: On
         Subtitles: Off
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
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