Plot: What’s it about?
This story takes place in 1937 and the events take place within a rural English town, where the people are close and doubtful of most outsiders. So when James Herriot (Simon Ward) arrives to assume his position in a local business, the folks are skeptical to say the least. Herriot has come to this area to serve as an assistant under the veteran, but unusual Siegfried Farnon (Anthony Hopkins), who has been this town’s doctor for some time now. So of course, they have a lot of trust in Farnon, but little faith whatsoever in the new blood. Herriot and Farnon are not doctors in the typical sense you might think though, they’re veterinarians and in a rural farm area such as this, their services are called upon quite often. Whether it is a small issue with a working horse or perhaps a potentially fatal problem with a hunting dog, these people always turn things over to Farnon to do his best. But they don’t trust Herriot just yet and in an effort to gain their trust, he begins to work his way into their lives and gets to know them as people. After all, why would you trust someone you don’t even know?
I have seen many episodes of the television series with the same name, but I had never seen this movie that started it all. I think those who liked the series will also like this film, as this follows the same lines and not much is that different. Aside from the cast, this film is along the same path as the series and that means the visual style, storyline, pacing, and more are all adhered to in the series as well. I know this film has a rather slow pace throughout and a general lack of tension & action, but I find the dialogue and characters to be very good, which is why I give this film a good recommendation. You might not think there is much to a movie about the new veterinarian in town, but I think you’d be surprised at just how much emotion & story can be shown in and around these characters. As I said though, this one uses a slower pace and likes to take some time to develop characters & events, so if you need non stop action, this isn’t the film you should choose. But if you’re a fan of the television series or you just want an excellent drama, All Creatures Great & Small is a very wise option.
If you’re looking for a movie with some terrific acting, All Creatures Great & Small would be a good choice, as it features some solid performers that are given some excellent material to work with. The cast is divided up pretty much into townies and outsiders, so I think it is vital to get a sense of warmth & comfort within the locals. That is achieved here and in the end, you can tell just how tightly knit these folks are and that goes a long way to help build the needed atmosphere for the movie. The lead is played by Simon Ward and while I haven’t seen the bulk of his work, I was pleased with his performance in this motion picture. Of the several films I have seen him in, Ward seems to be at his best here and his turn is good enough to prompt me to look into his other films. Ward can also be seen in such films as Supergirl, Aces High, Zulu Dawn, The Four Musketeers, and Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed! The rest of the cast includes Brian Stirner (The Plague Dogs), Lisa Harrow (Witchcraft), and the always wonderful Anthony Hopkins (The Silence Of The Lambs, Titus).
Video: How does it look?
All Creatures Great & Small is presented in a full frame transfer. I am not sure what the intended aspect ratio is, but this image doesn’t seemed to have been cropped and no unnatural camera pans can be seen. But aside from the unknown aspect ratio issue, this is a solid transfer and I found no serious problems to discuss. The colors look a little muted, but not to an extreme degree, while contrast seems sharp and well balanced also. The print used is very clean and I wasn’t able to detect much in terms of compression flaws, an overall acceptable image to be sure.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included 2.0 surround track allows for the musical score to richen, but the rest of the audio isn’t as dynamic. But then again, since this film isn’t dependent upon audio that much, this works out just as it should. I like the music from this film and I am glad it sounds so good here, but I wish some of the background noises could have shown more range. In the end though, the elements are present and in fine form though, so I guess no real complaints can be made. The dialogue is most prominent and it comes off well, always clear and never any volume issues at all.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc contains the film’s trailer.