Aria (1988)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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An international collection of well-known directors contributed to this compilation film, each fashioning a short film inspired by an aria from a famous opera. The approaches vary broadly, from the playful abstraction of Jean-Luc Godard's segment, which illustrates Armide with exercising body-builders, to the more literal approach of Franc Roddam, who transports Tristan und Isolde's story to modern-day Las Vegas. A particular stand-out is Julian Temple's take on Rigoletto, which recasts Verdi as the accompaniment to a contemporary Southern California sex farce.
R (adult situations/language, nudity, violence)
Art House & International , Comedy , Drama , Musical & Performing Arts , Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Academy Entertainment

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John Hurt
as The Actor
Theresa Russell
as King Zog
Buck Henry
as Preston
Jack Kyle
as Travis
Bridget Fonda
as Young Lover
Marion Peterson
as Les Jeunes Filles
Julie Hagerty
as Principle Artist
Valerie Allain
as Les Jeunes Filles
Stephanie Lane
as Baroness
Ruth Halliday
as Companion
Arthur Cox
as Major
Denis Holmes
as Colonel
Dan Fitzgerald
as Mercedes Man
Johnny Doyle
as Blind Balloon Man
David Ross
as Doorman
Lucy Oliver
as Woman in Background
Gordon Winter
as Man in Background
James Mathers
as The Lover
Derek Farmer
as Motorbike Man
Jackson Kyle
as Travis
Anita Morris
as Phoebe
John Hostetter
as Elvis Impersonator
Albie Selznick
as Bellboy
Elizabeth Hurley
as Marietta
Bertha Weiss
as Lady with Glove
Linzi Drew
as Girl
Tilda Swinton
as Young Girl
Dennis Holmes
as Colonel
Spencer Leigh
as Young Man
Sophie Ward
as Young Girl
Howie Korn
as Groom
Fernand Dumont
as Baritone Voice
Leontyne Price
as Aria Performer
Carlo Bergonzi
as Aria Performer
Robert Merrill
as Aria Performer
Shirley Verrett
as Aria Performer
Reri Grist
as Aria Performer
Georgio Tozzi
as Aria Performer
Ezio Flagello
as Aria Performer
Rachel Yakar
as Aria Performer
Zeger Vandersteene
as Aria Performer
Daniele Borst
as Aria Performer
Alfredo Kraus
as Aria Performer
Anna Moffo
as Aria Performer
Carol Neblett
as Aria Performer
Rene Kollo
as Aria Performer
Jennifer Smith
as Aria Performer
Roy Hyatt
as Chauffeur
Anne-Marie Rodde
as Aria Performer
Philippe Langridge
as Aria Performer
Jussi Bjoerling
as Aria Performer
Paul Brightwell
as Assassin
Enrico Caruso
as Aria Performer
Frank Baker
as Assassin
Chris Hunter
as Assassin
Stan Mazin
as Dancer
Jeff Calhoun
as Dancer
Derick Coleman
as Indian Boy
Quentin Brown
as Indian Boy
John Doyle
as Blind Balloon Man
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Critic Reviews for Aria

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (2)

The best of the 10 segments is, perhaps predictably, the rare one without lofty pretensions.

May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

I am not sure that any indispensable statement about opera has been made here, and purists will no doubt recoil by the irreverence of some of the images. But the film is fun almost as a satire of itself.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Aria gives 10 filmmakers a chance to create vignettes set to well-known opera arias.

Full Review… | August 28, 2004
Spirituality and Practice

Uneven compendium film. Russell, Temple, and Roddam are the best things. Goddard is the worst.

February 2, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

pretentious piffle that's pretty much one sour note after another

July 29, 2002
Kalamazoo Gazette

Seriously, do vanity projects like this really need to be made? Don't we all have better things to do?

August 16, 2001

Audience Reviews for Aria

It starts out mild enough, but in the later parts it becomes so emotionally acute as to seem other worldly. Yet the stories have to do with worldly matters: love, longing, despair, death. Love it!

Brandon Stocks
Brandon Stocks

Aria (Ken Russell et al., 1987) Anthology films are a tough beast, and especially in America, we're not quite sure what to do with them. (The Asians are still churning out excellent anthologies like Rampo Noir and 4bia.) Even at their best, anthology films in the western world are usually a mixed bag. Aria, while still fitting this descrption pretty well, is the least mixed-bag of them I've seen from American/European directors in recent memory. When it is good, it is very, very good, and when it is bad, it's... less bad than it could have been. Ten directors make ten short films about sex, each attached to a particular aria (and each named for the opera from which the aria is taken). Some are comedic (Julien Temple's "Rigoletto", one of the film's true high points), some melodramatic (Robert Altman directs a meta piece tied to "Les Boréades", also excellent). A lot of them, to me at least, were surprises indeed; both of the pieces I've mentioned were some of the director's best work I've seen. Some I expected to be great, and they were (Derek Jarman). Some I expected to be awful, and they were (Godard, who has never been more than useless). But the upsides here vastly outwight the downsides; Godard's segment is the only one that's truly unlikeable here, and while the others vary in quality, all of them are at least worth watching. Some are a great deal more than that. Ken Russell's, especially, may have been his final spark of greatness, a last glimpse of the art-for-art's-sake director who would soon go the way of the great auk. It's all very pretty, and most of it is kind of brilliant, examining its subject from a number of different angles-almost all of them worth your time. If you've never had the chance, give it a look-it's quite fine. ****

Robert Beveridge
Robert Beveridge

Wow. What a bunch of weak sauce artistic crap. Not only did the whole thing completely suck, but it was super slow while it sucked. I read that like three of them were awful, and the rest were good. But I couldn't tell the difference, not a single story was worth a poop in an old tin can.

Curtis Lilly
Curtis Lilly

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