Dean Spanley

Based on the novel My Talks with Dean Spanley written by Lord Dunsany, Dean Spanley explores the relationship between Henslowe Fisk and his father, Horatio, as well as his brother Harrington who died during the Boer War.

Probably one of the most unusual movies that I have ever seen, Dean Spanley begins with the regular visit by Henslowe Fisk to his father’s home, which occurred every Thursday since Henslowe’s mother passed away. On a particular Thursday, Henslowe took his father to attend a lecture about transmigration of souls, where they met Dean Spanley, a local clergyman. After two additional encounters with Dean Spanley, Henslowe invited him to his home by offering him a bottle of Tokay wine.

Later, Henslowe learned that Dean believed that he was a Welsh Spaniel in his previous life. This easily explained why he was attending the lecture about transmigration of souls – or simply said: reincarnation. A conveyancer named Wrather later joined the meetings, as he became intrigued by Dean’s belief of him being a dog during his previous life. Henslowe also met Wrather during the lecture and it happened that Wrather also provided Henslowe the Tokay wine, which is the Dean’s favorite.

The story connects to Horatio when Henslowe learned that Dean had an initial of WAG in his name. Horatio once in a while told Henslowe that he had a dog named Wag, and this made Henslowe set up another meeting with Dean and Wrather at Horatio’s house. It is in this last meeting that the Dean’s story about his previous life relates – in a very peculiar way - to Harrington Fisk who died in the Boer War.

Maybe not everyone would love the story because of its unusual way of telling it, but surely most people would love the performance from Peter O’Toole as Horatio Fisk. This does not mean that the rest of the cast were mediocre. Actually, all of them were great. Jeremy Northam and Sam Neill, even Bryan Brown and Judy Parfitt who played Wrather and Mrs. Brimley, respectively, did very well in this movie. The dogs were also convincing.

Although peculiar, the movie is very enjoyable overall. The story was well told and the cast were remarkable. A combination that I would naturally expect from a British movie. As for the set and the shots, they were equally good. Note that the film is set during the Edwardian era in England.

Final rating: 9.0

Directed by Toa Fraser
Screenplay by Alan Sharp
Based on a novel by Lord Dunsany
Starring: Jeremy Northam, Peter O’Toole, Sam Neill, Bryan Brown, Judy Parfitt
Release year: 2008
IMDB Rating: 7.1

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