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Traffik [VHS]

466円

Traffik [VHS]

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Like The Singing Detective, Alastair Reid's award-winning 1989 British miniseries (broadcast in the U.S. on "i"Masterpiece Theatre) has taken on mythic status. The critical and box-office success of Steven Soderbergh's Oscar®-winning feature-film adaptation paved the way for Traffik's home-video release, and it's an even more gripping and devastating experience. This is understandable in that it unfolds over five riveting hours, allowing for richer characterization. Traffik also operates on a broader canvas, as the interlocking stories play out in such far-flung locales as London and Hamburg, Germany, as well as Pakistan, a reminder that the war on drugs--in this case, heroin--is a global one. Comparisons between the miniseries and the movie are inevitable, and in the role played by Michael Douglas, Bill Paterson (perhaps best known as the lovelorn disc jockey in Comfort and Joy) makes a more convincing bureaucratic Everyman trying to hash out a financial-aid agreement with Pakistan that would eradicate the impoverished farmers' precious poppy crop. His world is shattered when his own daughter (Julia Ormond in her heartbreaking screen debut) becomes an addict. Lindsay Duncan is even more chilling than Catherine Zeta-Jones as Helen, a "housewife" who takes over her husband's smuggling operation when he is arrested. Aware of his illicit activities, she vows, "I'm not going to let go of everything we fought for." In the Don Cheadle role is Fritz Müller-Scherz as Ulli, a crafty and relentless German detective on Helen's case. One tragic story line unique to the miniseries concerns Fazal (Jamal Shah), an impoverished Pakistani farmer who finds work with Tariq Butt (Tallat Hussain), a major drug trafficker. This is one of television's finest hours (or five), and it's impossible not to get caught up in it. --Donald Liebenson

Traffik [VHS]