Vanya on 42nd Street

Overview

In the late 1980s, noted theatrical director Andre Gregory assembled a group of friends and actors and began rehearsing a new translation of Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya by David Mamet, not with any specific performance in mind but as a way of exploring the beauty and precise construction of Chekhov's play. Louis Malle, a friend of Gregory's, became interested in the project and spent two weeks filming Gregory's actors as they performed Uncle Vanya without an audience in a run-down theater near New York's Times ...
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Blu-ray (Wide Screen / Subtitled)
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Overview

In the late 1980s, noted theatrical director Andre Gregory assembled a group of friends and actors and began rehearsing a new translation of Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya by David Mamet, not with any specific performance in mind but as a way of exploring the beauty and precise construction of Chekhov's play. Louis Malle, a friend of Gregory's, became interested in the project and spent two weeks filming Gregory's actors as they performed Uncle Vanya without an audience in a run-down theater near New York's Times Square. In these performances, the line between theater and real life is blurred as conversations between actors -- juggling take-out cups of coffee and wearing street clothes -- slowly grow into a superb performance of Chekhov's classic, with Wallace Shawn as Vanya, Julianne Moore as Yelena, Brooke Smith as Sonya, and Larry Pine as Dr. Astrov. With a certain sad irony, this marvelously realized adaptation of a play about people wondering what they've done with their lives proved to be Louis Malle's final film; he died of cancer in 1995.
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Special Features

Documentary featuring interviews with André Gregory, that play's director; actors Lynn Cohen, George Gaynes, Julianne Moore, Larry Pine, Wallace Shawn, and Brooke Smith and producer Fred Berner; Trailer; Plus: a booklet featuring an eassay by critic Steven Vineberg and a 1994 on-set report by film critic Amy Taubin
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
A clever and powerful interpretation of the Anton Chekhov play Uncle Vanya, Vanya on 42nd Street reunites director Louis Malle with Wallace Shawn and André Gregory, his collaborators from 1981's My Dinner With André. Like that film, Vanya is a self-reflexive examination of the thin line between an actor's performances and his or her own life; the success of both films relies on Malle's ability to convincingly blur that distinction. Essentially a filmed rehearsal, Vanya's spare production design -- no costumes, no set, just an empty, rundown theater -- gives it tremendous resonance. Without a uniformly excellent cast, the film might have come off as merely conceptual; thankfully, Malle is aided by Shawn, surprisingly effective in the play's (and the film's) title role, and the emotive Julianne Moore as Yelena. Brooke Smith's heartbreaking performance as the ignored Sonya, however, really steals the film.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 2/28/2012
  • UPC: 715515090919
  • Original Release: 1994
  • Source: Criterion
  • Region Code: A
  • Presentation: Wide Screen / Subtitled
  • Sound: DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound
  • Time: 1:59:00
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Sales rank: 23,924

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Wallace Shawn Vanya
Andre Gregory Himself
Julianne Moore Yelena
Larry Pine Dr. Astrov
Brooke Smith Sonya
Phoebe Brand Marina
Lynn Cohen Maman
George Gaynes Serybryakov
Madhur Jaffrey Mrs. Chao
Jerry Mayer Waffles
Technical Credits
Louis Malle Director
Nancy Baker Editor
Fred Berner Producer
Alysse Bezahler Associate Producer
Andre Gregory Screenwriter
Sharon Ilson Makeup
Gary Jones Costumes/Costume Designer
Eugene Lee Production Designer
Eugene Lee Production Designer
Tod A. Maitland Sound/Sound Designer
David Mamet Screenwriter
Gary Marcus Asst. Director
Declan Quinn Cinematographer
Joshua Redman Score Composer
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