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Shakespeare on Video List
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- As You Like It (1937) DVD
The Bard's brilliant comedy with Sir Laurence Olivier in his first Shakespearian role. Elisabeth Bergner stars as Rosalind, the daughter of an exiled Duke, who falls in love with Orlando (Olivier), the son of one of her father's courtiers. When Orlando continues to ignore her, Rosalind decides the best way to be at his side is by disguising herself as a boy. Her deception works too well as Orlando would rather be in the boy's company than hers. How Rosalind works out her predicament is part of the fun in this early sound film adaptation of Shakespeare's classic play.
- BBC Shakespeare Comedies DVD Giftbox
BBC Shakespeare DVD 5 Pack Comedies Giftbox Set William Shakespeare loved to laugh. One need look no further than to explore his gift for dramatic humor in his great comedic plays. The BBC Shakespeare Comedy Gift Box gives us five of the best of Shakespeare's plays performed by great actors and the best British directors. The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, & As You Like It. The actors include: Helen Mirren, Richard Pasco, John Cleese, Michael Hordern, Warren Mitchell, Gemma Jones and many more. The list goes on.....the laughter runs deep. DVD brings out the luster of the periods sets and the audio crisply delivers the voices of the past. English subtitles have been added to give the viewer the luxury of reviewing the crisp dialogue (when needed).
Programs in this Comedy Giftbox Set includes: The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice,& As You Like It
- BBC Shakespeare Histories DVD Giftbox
Shakespeare is rightly considered the world's greatest playwright for the soaring beauty of his language, for his profound insight into human nature, for truths he dramatized and for the realism of the characters he created. He was, and remains, a superb entertainer.
Featuring some of Britain's most distinguished theatrical talent: Derek Jacobi, Sir John Gielgud, Charles Gray, Jon Finch, Martin Shaw, David Gwillim and Anthony Quayle, and many more. DVD brings out the rich beauty in the acting and sound. The English language subtitles allow viewers to correctly understand the rapid fire of the beautiful language of William Shakespeare.
Contains 5 plays on 5 DVDs: Henry V, Richard II, Richard III, Henry IV, Part I and Henry IV, Part II
- BBC Shakespeare Tragedies DVD Giftbox
Shakespeare is rightly considered the world's greatest playwright for the soaring beauty of his language, for his profound insight into human nature, for the truths he dramatized and for the realism of the characters he created. He was, and remains, a superb entertainer.
These BBC and Time-Life film productions feature some of Britain's most distinguished theatrical talent (Anthony Hopkins, Sir John Gielgud, Patrick Stewart, Derek Jacobi, Claire Bloom and more), these DVD's now are the number-one choice for continuing personal enjoyment.
This special Drama DVD Giftbox Set contains 5 of Shakespeare's most popular tragedies: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and Othello.
The Plays contain sub-titles in English that can be turned on or off.
- BBC Shakespeare Tragedies II DVD Giftbox
The plays in this set are: Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, King Lear, Timon of Athens and Titus Andronicus. Word for word as written by William Shakespeare.
- Hamlet - Criterion Collection (1948) DVD
Winner of four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor, Sir Laurence Olivier's Hamlet continues to be the most compelling version of Shakespeare's beloved tragedy. Olivier is at his most inspired-both as director and as the melancholy Dane himself-as he breathes new life into the words of one of the world's greatest dramatists. Criterion is proud to present Hamlet in a luminous black-and-white digital transfer.
- Hamlet (1969) VHS
Starring Nicol Williamson as Hamlet.
- Hamlet (1991) DVD
Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Amazon.com essential video
Franco Zeffirelli's stripped-down, two-hour version of Shakespeare's play stars Mel Gibson as a rather robust version of the ambivalent Danish prince. Gibson is much better in the part than many critics have admitted, his powers of clarity doing much to make this particular Hamlet more accessible than several other filmed versions. The supporting cast is outstanding, including Glenn Close as Gertrude, Alan Bates as Claudius, Ian Holm as Polonius, and Helena Bonham Carter as Ophelia. Zeffirelli's vigorous direction employs a lively camera style that nicely alters the viewer's preconceptions about the way Hamlet should look. --Tom Keogh
- Hamlet (1996) VHS
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Kenneth Branagh's four-hour production of Shakespeare's full text for Hamlet is visually lush (shot in 70mm, which is rarely done) and full of fascinating story moments that normally get cut from shorter stage versions. (Your idea of what kind of fellow Polonius is may change quite a bit.) The unexpurgated approach is truly enlightening, and Branagh intermittently succeeds at giving familiar moments in the drama an original cinematic spin, including Hamlet's spooky confrontation with his father's ghost (Brian Blessed). (Branagh also imposes some Hollywood glitter on the proceedings by casting the likes of Robin Williams, Billy Crystal, Charlton Heston, and Jack Lemmon in the smaller parts.) The pre-Titanic Kate Winslet is very good as the doomed Ophelia, and Derek Jacobi delivers a wonderfully nuanced performance as Claudius, whose character is definitely filled out by the restored material. Branagh's own performance is a little revisionist--some viewers have quibbled with it while others seem fine with it. --Tom Keogh
- Henry V - Criterion Collection (1946) DVD
Director: Laurence Olivier
Olivier mustered out of the navy to film this adaptation of Shakespeare's history. Embroiled in World War II, Britons took courage from this tale of a king who surmounts overwhelming odds and emerges victorious. This sumptuous Technicolor® rendering features a thrilling recreation of the battle of Agincourt, and Sir Laurence in his prime as director and actor.
- Henry V (1989) DVD
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Amazon.com essential video
Very few films come close to the brilliance Kenneth Branagh achieved with his first foray into screenwriting and direction. Henry V qualifies as a masterpiece, the kind of film that comes along once in a decade. He eschews the theatricality of Laurence Olivier's stirring, fondly remembered 1945 adaptation to establish his own rules. Branagh plays it down and dirty, seeing the bard's play through revisionist eyes, framing it as an antiwar story. Branagh gives us harsh close-ups of muddied, bloody men, and close-ups of himself as Henry, his hardened mouth and willful eyes revealing much about this land war. Not that the director-star doesn't provide lighter moments. His scenes introducing the French Princess Katherine (Emma Thompson) are toothsome. Bubbly, funny, enhanced by lovely lighting and Thompson's pale beauty, these glimpses of a princess trying to learn English quickly from her maid are delightful.
What may be the crowning glory of Branagh's adaptation comes when the dazed, shaky leader wanders through battlefields, not even sure who has won. As King Hal carries a dead boy (Empire of the Sun's Christian Bale) over the hacked-up bodies of both the English and French, you realize it is the first time Branagh has opened up the scenes: a panorama of blood and mud and death. It is as strong a statement against warmongering as could ever be made. --Rochelle O'Gorman
- Julius Caesar (1953)
Warner Home Video
An examination of the relationship between political power and personal conscience, Joseph Mankiewicz's traditional Julius Caesar (1953) is a veritable master class for aspiring thespians. As the opportunistic Marc Antony, Marlon Brando delivers the famous funeral speech with pure conviction, elsewhere casting an intense physicality that recalls his work in A Streetcar Named Desire. James Mason suggests a latent Hamlet in his turn as the honorable Brutus, while John Gielgud is positively serpentine as the lean, hungry Cassius. Louis Calhern invests Caesar with intelligence and edgy noir echoes, and director Mankiewicz astutely balances the Renaissance view of Caesar as a power-obsessed, corrupt tyrant destined for punishment with modern suggestions that his murder may have been ill advised. The director's scrupulous pacing is supported in no small measure by Miklós Rósza's stunning score. At film's end, power itself is without a master, and the spirit of Caesar has been left unrevived: and to Mankiewicz's credit, the latter is revealed to be the true tragedy of Julius Caesar. --Kevin Mulhall, amazon.com
- King Lear (1984)
Director: Michael Elliott
The late Sir Lawrence Olivier stars in this Emmy Award winning production of Shakespeare's King Lear. It is the timeless tale of greed and lust for power, and of a sick old man, his scheming children and lost loyalties. Also stars Diana Rigg, John Hurt, Leo McKern, and Colin Blakely. Special DVD features include a biography and filmography on Sir Lawrence Olivier, character and cast list, chapter stops on each scene, and more. 158 minutes.
- Love's Labour's Lost (2000)
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Having taken Shakespeare at his word on Hamlet (i.e., not cutting a single syllable out of a very long play), Kenneth Branagh selects a more radical approach with Love's Labour's Lost. Here the prolific director-star weeds out much of the play's dialogue and adds songs and dances of a decidedly modern bent. The King of Navarre (Alessandro Nivola, Nicolas Cage's wacko brother in Face/Off) and his three comrades (Branagh, Matthew Lillard, Adrian Lester) take a vow: no womanly distractions while they pursue their studies. Ah, but at that very moment, floating down a magical studio-built river, is the queen of France (Alicia Silverstone), accompanied by three ladies-in-waiting. You do the math. Branagh has set the tale on the eve of the Second World War, which allows for the inclusion of vintage pop songs, including "Cheek to Cheek," "The Way You Look Tonight," and a rousing chorus of "There's No Business Like Show Business," led by--who else?--Nathan Lane. The fact that most of the cast members are not accomplished song-and-dance folk is clearly meant to charm, but the results are spotty at best. Perhaps the most dynamic performer is Natascha McElhone (memorable from Ronin), whose aristocratic bearing and bottomless eyes lend a gravity to the material that is otherwise absent from Branagh's twinkly staging. The play contains some of Shakespeare's loveliest paeans to the language of love, yet Branagh seems to be in a hurry to juice everything up lest the audience lose interest. The labor shows. --Robert Horton
- Macbeth - Royal Shakespeare Company DVD
Director: Philip Casson
Two of England's greatest actors, Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Judi Dench, electrify in this lean, stripped-down production of Shakespeare's darkest tragedy. In the wake of a battle, the Scottish warrior Macbeth (McKellen, Gods and Monsters, Lord of the Rings) receives a prophecy from a trio of witches: He shall be king. When fate doesn't unfold quickly enough, Macbeth and his even more ambitious wife (Dench, Shakespeare in Love, Iris) decide to give it a push. McKellen sweats anxiously and oozes a creeping lust for power, while Dench is hypnotically vicious from her first moment. For audiences used to their film careers, this grand pair will seem young as pups (this TV movie is from 1979, adapted from an acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company production)--but that only gives them an added edge of sex and vigor. Extras include the older McKellen thoughtfully commenting on the play and this classic production. --Bret Fetzer
- Macbeth (1971)
Director: Roman Polanski
Amazon.com essential video
Roman Polanski's adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy remains one of the most infamous for a number of reasons: the copious amounts of bloody gore, its expert use of location settings (filmed in North Wales), and Lady Macbeth's nude sleepwalking scene. Despite its notoriety, though, this does remain one of the more compelling film adaptations of the Scottish tragedy, if one of the more pessimistic takes on the story of Macbeth and his overreaching ambition. If you think the play is normally a bit of a downer, you haven't seen Polanski's bleak version of it, made in reaction to the murder of his wife, Sharon Tate, by the Manson "family." Jon Finch (Hitchcock's Frenzy) is an forceful Macbeth, bringing out the Scot's warrior instincts, and Francesca Annis is a memorable Lady Macbeth, but the main thrust of the film belongs to Polanski's and noted British playwright and critic Kenneth Tynan's take on the play: extremely violent, nihilistic, and visceral; this is down-in-the-dirt, no-holds-barred Shakespeare, not fussy costume drama. Pay close attention to the end, a silent coda that puts a chilling twist on all the action that has come beforehand and foreshadows more tragedy to come. --Mark Englehart
- Much Ado About Nothing (1993) VHS
Kenneth Branagh's 1993 production of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing is a vigorous and imaginative work, cheerful and accessible for everyone. Largely the story of Benedick (Branagh) and Beatrice (Emma Thompson)--adversaries who come to believe each is trying to woo the other--the film veers from arched wit to ironic romps, and the two leads don't mind looking a little silly at times. But the plot is also layered with darker matters that concern the ease with which men and women fall into mutual distrust. Branagh has rounded up a mixed cast of stage vets and Hollywood stars, among the latter Denzel Washington and Michael Keaton, the latter playing a rather seedy, Beetlejuice-like version of Dogberry, king of malapropisms. The DVD release has optional full-screen and widescreen presentations, Dolby sound, optional Spanish and French soundtracks or subtitles.--Tom Keogh
- Much Ado About Nothing (1993) DVD
Director: Kenneth Branagh
- Othello (1952)
Director: Orson Welles
Filmed as a classical tragedy, Orson Welles's Othello is a tale of passion, jealousy, and murder. Welles used his earnings from several performances to finance the production, which was shot over several years across multiple locations including Italy and Morocco. The footage was well matched photographically, resulting in an artistically brave compression of a great play. In the title role, Welles shows us a man who has fought many wars but still maintains a princely disposition. As Desdemona, Suzanne Cloutier is guileless but strong enough to have wanted and pursued the Moor. In a rare filmed role, Micheál MacLiammóir excels as the diabolical Iago, a master of manipulating appearances and devoid of any motive save pure evil. The financial constraints appear to have ignited an even higher level of creativity within Welles, who never takes the expected angle and directs the film with a vertiginous, exhibitionist energy. This Othello won the prestigious Palme d'Or at Cannes in April 1952. --Kevin Mulhall
- Othello (1995) DVD
Oliver Parker, a stage and film actor (Hellraiser), made his directorial debut with this scaled-back version of Shakespeare's play about the paranoid Moor, Othello (Laurence Fishburne), and his manipulative friend, Iago (Kenneth Branagh). Parker gets the story so lean he starts running a little short on the author's subtext, and if it's possible to overemphasize the banality of Iago's scheming and Othello's malleability, he does so. The director throws out what is universal in the story and makes it all seem merely ordinary, human, and unfortunate, which is the opposite of what watching Shakespeare should be. In the end, it's hard to care what these characters have done to one another. Branagh's Iago is a little flat and unfocused, while Fishburne is excellent as a quieter Othello than we're accustomed to. With Irène Jacob (Red) as Desdemona. --Tom Keogh
- Reduced Shakespeare Company, The - The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (2000)
Ah, Shakespeare. The great bard. You've heard he's a terrific writer. One of these days, you may actually get around to catching one of his plays. Yeah, right. Well, with the help of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, not only can you catch all of Shakespeare's plays at once, but you can have a riotous good time doing so.
Three men performing 37 plays in less than two hours may seem a bit of a stretch. But Adam Long, Reed Martin, and Austin Tichenor--all members of the Reduced Shakespeare Company--pull it off beautifully with The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), a slapstick show that summarizes the playwright's stage work (with the sonnets thrown in). Never read Titus Andronicus? No problem; it's presented here as a cooking show. Can't keep your Shakespearean histories straight? Visualize them as a football game. Wondering what exactly is the deal with that guy Othello? Hear his story as a rap song. Hard as it is to imagine, this video of the stage show (originally seen on PBS) is one of the funniest, most clever productions around. Long is hysterical in his roles of Juliet and Ophelia (among others), bringing a hip, edgy feel to the plays while remaining surprisingly true to the stories. Martin and Tichenor will amaze with their acrobatic movements and frequent costume changes, and the three together are a marvel of timing and rhythm. Best of all, whether you know Shakespeare inside out or have yet to read a word of him, The Complete Works will have you in stitches. --Jenny Brown, Amazon.com
- Richard III - Criterion Collection (1956) DVD
Director: Laurence Olivier
In the majestic and sweeping 1955 version of Richard III, Laurence Olivier transfigures Shakespeare's great historical drama into a mesmerizing vision of Machiavellian villainy. Olivier's performance, considered by many the greatest of his career, charges Richard with magnetic malevolence as he steals his brother Edward's crown through a murderous set of machinations. His inspired direction brings to the screen superlative performances by actors Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud, and the young Claire Bloom. The Criterion Collection is proud to present the restored full-length version in a special double-disc edition featuring audio commentary by Russell Lees and John Wilders, a 1966 BBC interview with Olivier hosted by theater critic Kenneth Tynan, a gallery of on-set and production stills and posters, a 12-minute television preview for the film and the original theatrical trailer.
- Richard III (1995) DVD
Director: Richard Loncraine
This film adaptation of a critically acclaimed stage production of Shakespeare's historical drama stars Ian McKellen in the title role. The setting is a comic-book vision of 1930s London: part art deco, part Third Reich, part industrial-age rust and rot. The play's force is turned into a synthetic high by art directors and storyboard sketchers, all of whom have a field day condensing the material into disposable pop imagery. This is a fun film, more than anything, so infatuated with its own monstrous stitchery that even the most awkward casting (Annette Bening and Robert Downey Jr.) seems a part of the ridiculous design. McKellen is the best thing about the movie, his mesmerizing portrayal of freakish despotism and poisoned desire a thing to behold. Directed by Richard Loncraine (Bellman and True). --Tom Keogh
- Romeo & Juliet (1968)
Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet was unique in its day for casting kids in the play's pivotal roles of, well, kids. Seventeen-year-old Leonard Whiting and 15-year-old Olivia Hussey play the titular pair, the Bard's star-crossed lovers who defy a running feud between their families in order to be together in love. Typically played on stage and in previous film productions by adult actors, the innocent look and rawness of Whiting and Hussey resonated at the time with a burgeoning youth movement from San Francisco to Prague. The tragic romance at the center of the story also clicked with anti-authority sentiments, but even without that, Zeffirelli scores points by validating the ideals and passions of strong-willed adolescents. Less successful are scenes requiring the actors to have a fuller grasp of the text, though the best thing going remains the unambiguous duel between Romeo and Tybalt (Michael York). Lavishly photographed by Pasquale de Santis on location in Italy, this Romeo and Juliet brought a different tone and dimension to a story that had become tiresome in reverential presentations. --Tom Keogh
- Shakespeare: The Animated Tales
Winner of 3 Emmy Awards these exceptional animated stories have been designed to introduce children and young adults to some Shakespeare's most popular works. Each play has been animated in it own unique style by the exceptional talents of the leading directors of Russia's Christmas Films. Actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company and stars of stage and screen, including Antony Sher, Joss Ackland and Jenny Agutter, provide voices for the characters which were recorded and produced by BBC Wales. In Russia, art and animation has long been used as a veiled form of satire, education and political protest. This has inspired scores of Russian animators to develop fascinating and highly individual techniques, a prolific kaleidoscope of styles from which the animation artists were chosen for these stories of Shakespeare-The Animated Tales.
Giftbox Contains 12 Animated Plays on 4 DVD's: The Tempest, A Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Richard III, Romeo & Juliet, Othello, The Winter's Tale, Macbeth, Taming of the Shrew and Twelfth Night
- Taming of the Shrew, The (1967)
Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Amazon.com essential video
Liz and Dick (a.k.a. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton) almost seemed to be importing the psychodramas of their marriage into this 1967 film (of course, the same was true of every film they made together). Adapted from Shakespeare's play and directed by Franco Zeffirelli (Romeo and Juliet) with his usual eye for sumptuousness, this version of Taming features a particularly boisterous, bawdy, fun performance by its stars. Composer Nino Rota--best known for scoring several of Fellini's best-known works--received a National Board of Reviews award for his vivid soundtrack. --Tom Keogh
- The Merchant of Venice (2004)
Rarely has The Merchant of Venice, one of Shakespeare's most complex plays, looked as ravishingly sumptuous as in this adaptation, directed by Michael Radford (Il Postino). In a decadent version of renaissance Venice, a young nobleman named Bassanio (Joseph Fiennes, Shakespeare in Love) seeks to woo the lovely Portia (newcomer Lynn Collins), but lacks the money to travel to her estate. He seeks support from his friend, the merchant Antonio (Jeremy Irons, Reversal of Fortune); Antonio's fortune is tied up in sea ventures, so the merchant offers to borrow money from a Jewish moneylender, Shylock (Al Pacino, Dog Day Afternoon). But Shylock holds a grudge against Antonio, who has routinely treated the Jew with contempt, and demands that if the debt is not repaid in three months, the price will be a pound of Antonio's flesh.
The Merchant of Venice is famous as a "problem play"--the gritty matters of moneylending and anti-Semitism sit uncomfortably beside the fairy tale elements of Portia and Bassanio's romance, and some twists of the plot can seem arbitrary or even cruel. The strength of Radford's intelligent and passionate interpretation is that he and the excellent cast invest the play's opposing facets with full emotional weight, thus making every question the play raises acute and inescapable. Irons is particularly compelling; kindness and blind prejudice sit side by side in his breast, rendering the clashes in his character as vivid as those in the play itself. --Bret Fetzer, Amazon.com
- The Thames Shakespeare Collection: MacBeth/King Lear/Romeo & Juliet/Twelfth Night
A&E Home Video
This collection of televised adaptations includes some of Shakespeare's finest works all produced for British television. Among them are interpretations of MACBETH (with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench) KING LEAR ROMEO & JULIET and TWELFTH NIGHT (directed by Kenneth Branagh). Running Time 600 Mins.
The Thames Shakespeare DVD Collection includes:
* MACBETH: Witchcraft, manipulation, and murder mark Macbeth's ascension to power and his subsequent downfall. This classic production features the unsurpassed talent of Ian McKellen, Oscar® winner Judi Dench, and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
* KING LEAR: When King Lear renounces his throne to divide his kingdom among his daughters, treachery, madness, and murder follow. This compelling production stars Patrick Magee (A Clockwork Orange) and other mainstays of stage and television.
* ROMEO & JULIET: This moving interpretation of Shakespeare's ageless tale of family feuds, star-crossed lovers and tragic, untimely death features a first-rate cast, authentic sets and colorful costumes that will envelope you in the world's most famous love story.
* TWELFTH NIGHT: Showcasing the directorial talents of Kenneth Branagh, this popular and enduring comedy revolves around unrequited love and mistaken identity. An insightful and witty performance by the Renaissance Theatre Company provides a humorous commentary about whom and how we love.
- Twelfth Night (1996)
Director: Trevor Nunn
This picture is an adaptation of Shakespeare's classic comedy. The setting has been updated to the victorian era but the focus is still on the universal question of gender.
- Twelfth Night (ATV British television production) (1969)
Sir Alec Guinness Sir Ralph Richardson and Joan Plowright star in this merry on-stage mix-up of identity gender and love in Tony Award winner John Dexter's production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night - a fanciful farce of classic proportions with a wealth of slapstick puns and double entendres that have amazed and amused audiences for over four hundred years. Running Time: 103 mins