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On Golden Pond (DVD) Review


Nominated for 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and eventual winner of 3 Oscars, On Golden Pond is an unconventional Hollywood blockbuster. Based on the play of the same name by Ernest Thompson, the film offers a character driven storyline that explores numerous themes such as aging, abandonment, and family relationships of various types. Veteran film and TV director Mark Rydell packs the big screen with a star-studded cast for this 1981 release. Because of its well developed characters and realistic portrayal of human interactions, itís a film thatís almost certain to make you laugh, cry, and/or smile. In fact, if you donít find Norman to be one of the most hilarious and eccentric characters ever created, then you must not be watching the same film.

On Golden Pond follows the lives of a retired New England couple on their annual summer vacation to Golden Pond. Norman Thayer (Henry Fonda) is an aging, long-retired college professor. Sarcastic and crotchety, he manages to distance himself from just about everyone but his wife Ethel (Katharine Hepburn). In fact, his biting demeanor nearly destroys he and his daughterís relationship, Chelsea (Jane Fonda). When Chelsea brings her new boyfriend Bill (Dabney Coleman) to visit, it isnít long before Norman stirs things up once again. But Norman and Ethel get an unexpected summer guest when Bill and Chelsea take a prolonged European vacation and leave Billís 13-year-old son Billy in their care. It makes for an odd threesome, but as the three learn to live with each otherís quirks, they also learn from each other. But the true test for the new family comes when Chelsea and Bill return from Europe. Can she learn to accept her fatherís vices? And can Norman finally be proud of his daughter for who she is?

Hollywood veterans Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda turn in two of the best performances of their respective careers. Fonda is absolutely brilliant as the doddering and cranky Norman. One canít help but laugh at his antics, although it helps that he has the best written lines in the entire movie. Dabney Coleman, although brief in his appearance, makes an immediate impression when he engages in a classic dialogue with Henry Fonda over the eveningís sleeping arrangements. However, in the end, On Golden Pond works because of the chemistry between the three characters who encompass the majority of the story Ė Ethel, Norman, and Billy. They bind together to create an epic drama rife with conflict, conquest, and chaos without all the usual Hollywood blood and gore. Itís truly rare to have a film of this nature capture audiences without boring them, and On Golden Pond pulls it off.

Complimenting this strong cast and screenplay is a simple, yet memorable instrumental soundtrack composed by Dave Grusin, veteran TV and film composer known for such works as Tootsie (1982) and The Goonies (1985). Filmed on location on and around the Squam Lakes in New Hampshire, the beauty and majesty of this untainted landscape blends perfectly with its tailor-made soundtrack to create a theme of endless peace and tranquility. Overall, it makes for a rather enjoyable movie experience. If you havenít seen it, do yourself a favor and watch On Golden Pond. Then, see if you can say ďEthel ThayerĒ really fast without a lisp!

Submitted by:

Britt Gillette

Britt Gillette is author of The DVD Report, a blog where you can find where you can find more reviews of movies and TV series. Source: http://thedvdreport.blogspot.com/2006/08/on-golden-pond-dvd.html







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