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"The Final Cut"
Paul Seed, BBC TV, 1995
No-one captures elegant evil like Ian Richardson, and with House of Cards he distills the phenomena to create Francis Urquhart, the arch-manipulator at the heart of this political thriller. Naturally, he defines menace and cold cunning with his portrayal of the statesman who will stop at nothing and no-one in order to achieve the office of Prime Minister, but Richardson's brilliance lies in his ability to make Urquhart simultaneously loathsome and likeable. The audience may be repelled by his ruthlessness, but his wit, coolness, preening intelligence and conspiratorial asides to camera combine to make this minister a strangely charismatic monster.
Richardson based his character on Richard III and won the Best Actor Bafta for his depiction. He is assisted by an Emmy-winning screenplay by Andrew Davies, based on the novel of the same name by Michael Dobbs. The latter's career provided more than enough experience to create Urquhart's world with icy accuracy as he worked as a political reporter in the US during the Watergate scandal before rising to become Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party under John Major. Asked if the ministers and minions inhabiting his fictitious universe were based on actual figures, he once replied with one of Urquhart's own aphorisms that, "You might well think that; I couldn't possibly comment". It's Dobbs's mixing of melodrama and plausibility which gives his drama such a compelling edge.
Other strengths include the critically acclaimed score by Jim Parker, and an excellent supporting cast. Susannah Harker, for instance, is perfect as the innocent journalist trapped in Urquhart's political labyrinth. But ultimately House of Cards is chez Richardson, with his wit, acerbity and slyness making this an ideal political thriller, even for those left cold by politics.
The serial opens with Prime Minister Francis Urquhart burying his dog, followed by the state funeral of his predecessor Margaret Thatcher. Urquhart publicly praises Thatcher as his mentor but privately begrudges her longevity and her record as the longest-serving Prime Minister, a record he is however soon to surpass.
To emulate Thatcher's Falklands War, Urquhart champions a solution to the Cyprus dispute between Greek and Cypriot Greeks, as he says "to inscribe my name in history". While boundaries are fixed by five international judges, Urquhart - prompted by his wife Elizabeth - is secretly working to bring offshore oil deposits under the control of a Turkish-British consortium which will in turn provide for his retirement fund.
Urquhart also has a personal connection to Cyprus: as a nineteen-year-old lieutenant, he killed two young men with the EOKA resistance. Urquhart has frequent nightmares and flashbacks of this event and also of the murders of Mattie Storin and others shown in the previous serials.
The brother of the men Urquhart killed has not forgotten their disappearance and sends his daughter Maria to investigate their fate. She finds a report written by the soldier who killed her uncles, but the author is kept secret from her. She approaches Urquhart who appears to be welcoming and eager to help. Unknown to her, he arranges that documents revealing his involvement are excluded from a coincidental declassification of documents. He also confides the truth to his wife Elizabeth.
Episode 1 - Duration 50 minutes
Episode 2 - Duration 51 minutes
This torrent contains a complete and uncompressed copy of the original DVD including chapter structure, etc, and will produce a perfect clone when burned to DVD5.
ISO'd using DVD Decrypter & UltraISO
Source: PAL DVD, 25 fps
Audio: English 2chn
Res: 720 x 576
Disc 1 - File Information
File Name: The House of Cards Trilogy - The Final Cut (1995) [DVD (iso)] Disc 1 of 2 DW Staff Approved
Duration (hh:mm:ss): 1:44:16
File Size (in bytes): 4,553,506,816
--- Video Information ---
Video Codec Name: MPEG-2
Video Bitrate (kbps): 5830
frame Width (pixels): 720
frame Height (pixels): 576
frames Per Second: 25.000
--- Audio Information ---
Audio Codec: AC3
Audio Bitrate(kbps): 192
Audio BitRate Type CBR
Audio Sample Rate 48000 Hz
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