Best Shakespeare on DVD?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Matt_P, Dec 14, 2003.

  1. Matt_P

    Matt_P Second Unit

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    What are the best Shakespeare adaptations on DVD?

    Off the top of my head, some of the best films include:

    Romeo and Juliet (1968, Paramount)
    Henry V (Branagh, MGM)
    Richard III, Hamlet, Henry V (Olivier, Criterion)
    Hamlet (Branagh, not yet released)
    Macbeth (Polanski, Columbia)
    Throne of Blood (Kurosawa, Criterion)
    Ran (Kurosawa, Wellspring)

    ...I'm sure there are more I'm missing at the moment.

    In your opinion, what is the best of the best? What DVDs are the best? What needs to be released/redone?
     
  2. Blu

    Blu Screenwriter

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    Hamlet the MST3K version.
     
  3. PhilBoy

    PhilBoy Second Unit

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    Titus.
     
  4. todd stone

    todd stone Screenwriter

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    shakespeare in love
     
  5. Jan H

    Jan H Cinematographer

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    Matt, I own all of the available DVD's mentioned (except the Misty Hamlet [​IMG] ) and they're all great, but my favorite production is the Olivier King Lear available on Kultur DVD. Even though it was produced on TV and therefore is a bit stagy, the quality of the performances is impeccable. Some others to consider:

    Richard III (McKellen) - a modern interpretation with some nice visuals and decent A/V.

    Othello - Flawed, but worth it because of Branagh's Iago. Good A/V

    Much Ado About Nothing - A classic, even with Keanu Reeves. Great video quality.

    I'm not sure if/when it'll be released, but check out Ian Holm as King Lear (it was a PBS production several years back). It is also superb.

    The Orson Welles Othello, Macbeth and Chimes at Midnight (Henry IV) are great, but can't verify their availability and/or quality on DVD.

    Hope this helps!
     
  6. Jeff Swearingen

    Jeff Swearingen Second Unit

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    I wouldn't put the MST3K Hamlet and Shakespeare in Love in the same room as actual Shakespeare productions.

    Branagh's Much Ado is a bargain bin MGM title at $10. Is the Criterion Richard III available yet?

    At the final class dinner for my Shakespeare graduate seminar I saw a video of the Abbreviated Shakespeare Company (I think) doing Hamlet in a 40-second version. Great fun if you know the play well, terrible if you don't. Any rumors of this on DVD?
     
  7. Brian PB

    Brian PB Supporting Actor

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    This was a fun exercise. I've also included a few loose adaptations, or those "inspired by" a play. Those I haven't seen are ones I'm looking forward to.


    King Lear
    Ran (Kurosawa/1985/Wellspring Masterworks)
    King Lear Olivier (Michael Elliott/1984/Kultur)


    Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2; Merry Wives of Windsor
    Chimes at Midnight/Falstaff (Welles/1965/Not Yet Released)
    My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant/1991/New Line/Not Released)


    Macbeth
    Throne of Blood (Kurosawa/1957/Criterion)
    Macbeth (Polanski/1971/Columbia TriStar)
    Orson Welles' Macbeth (Welles/1948/Second Sight/R2 PAL/UK)
    Macbeth [TV] Maurice Evans (George Schaeffer/1960/Not Released)


    Hamlet
    Hamlet (Olivier/1948/Criterion)
    Hamlet, Prince of Denmark [TV] Derek Jacobi (Rodney Bennett/1980/Ambrose Video: BBC Shakespeare Tragedies DVD Giftbox)
    Hamlet [Russian] (Grigori Kozintsev/1964/Not Released)
    Hamlet (Branagh/1996/Columbia TriStar/Not Released)
    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Tom Stoppard/1990/Disney)


    Henry V
    Henry V/The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with his Battell at Agincourt in France (Olivier/1944/Criterion)
    Henry V (Branagh/1989/MGM/UA)


    Othello
    Othello Olivier (Stuart Burge/1965/Warner/Not Released)
    Othello (Welles/1952/Image)
    Othello [TV] (Geoffrey Sax/2002/Acorn Media)


    Romeo and Juliet
    Romeo and Juliet (Franco Zefferelli/1968/Paramount)
    West Side Story (Robert Wise/1961/MGM UA)
    Romeo and Juliet Norma Shearer & Leslie Howard (George Cukor/1936/Warner/Not Released)


    Richard III
    Richard III (Olivier/1955/Criterion--February)
    Richard III Ian McKellan (Richard Loncraine/1995/MGM UA)


    A Midsummer Night's Dream
    A Midsummer Night's Dream Cagney, de Havilland, & Rooney (William Dieterle/1935/Warner/Not Released)


    Much Ado About Nothing
    Much Ado About Nothing [TV] (Stuart Burge/1984/Time-Life/Not Released)
    Much Ado About Nothing (Branagh/1993/Columbia TriStar)


    The Tempest
    The Tempest (Derek Jarman/1979/Kino)
    The Tempest [UK] (John Gorrie/1980/Time-Life/Not Released)
    Forbidden Planet (Fred M. Wilcox/1956/Warner)
    Prospero's Books (Peter Greenaway/1991/Miramax/Not Released)


    Julius Caesar
    Julius Caesar Brando (Joseph L. Mankiewicz/1953/Warner/Not Released)


    The Taming of the Shrew
    The Taming of the Shrew [TV] (Kirk Browning/1976/Kultur)
    Kiss Me Kate (George Sidney/1953/Warner)
    The Taming of the Shrew [TV] (Jonathan Miller/1980/Time-Life/Not Released)
     
  8. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    There is also the Midsummer Night's Dream that was done in 1999 with Michelle Pfeiffer and Rupert Everitt, which is also a cheap DVD.

    There is also Branagh's Love Labors Lost, which isn't great, but probably pretty good for Branagh fans

    Jason
     
  9. Jeff Swearingen

    Jeff Swearingen Second Unit

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    The '99 Midsummer Night's Dream is horrendous. Not worth the $6 I spent on it. Terribly staged and performed.
     
  10. Scott Leopold

    Scott Leopold Supporting Actor

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    Brian, you forgot one Hamlet adaptation: Strange Brew.
     
  11. RichD

    RichD Agent

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    Chimes at Midnight is available in R2. See review. I think it's worth the trouble of buying. It's a great flick and the lousy transfer is still watchable.

    One more that should be on the list:
    Mel Gibson's Hamlet. Not available on DVD. [​IMG]
     
  12. Matt_P

    Matt_P Second Unit

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    As Jeff stated, I am referring to actual adaptations/film versions of Shakespeare's works. I hate to break it to you, but Shakespeare in Love and MST3K's Hamlet do not fit the bill.

    Even though I dislike it, I should probably add Baz Luhrman's William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, which was recently re-released on SE DVD.

    Some great posts so far. It seems clear that there is quite a bit of unreleased material out there that should be put on the fast track!

    We have two superb versions of Hamet that have not made it to the format of choice. Branagh's was very well done, though I thought the sword throw at the end
    was a bit excessive. Gibson's was directed by Franco Zeffirelli, who made the best version to date of Romeo and Juliet (I still have a crush on the young Olivia Hussey...she must be in her 50s by now). I saw both of these in high school a few years ago, as I'm sure many did.
     
  13. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    i was surprised how much i enjoyed the Gibson/Zeferelli Hamlet.
    it was a complete breath of fresh air, and i've heard that his take on the character is based on the interpretation of the word melancholy as it would have pertained to Shakesperes time, i.e. somewhat manic depressive as opposed to the more contemporary brooding and moping we usually get.
    worked for me, as did the excellant supporting cast (Ian Holm, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Bates, Glen Close).

    i would love to see Warner get around to releasing this one.

    Titus is a real mind blower. great set from Fox too.
     
  14. DouglasBr

    DouglasBr Stunt Coordinator

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    Add me to the list of those waiting for the Gibson/Zefirelli Hamlet. A rather surprising, refreshing staging as I recall, and one which I'd quickly snap up if released on DVD.

    Also, I second the plaudits for Olivier's King Lear, though I've shamefully neglected to pick it up on DVD yet. . . .
     
  15. Jan H

    Jan H Cinematographer

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    Jeff, I think you mean Reduced Shakespeare Company. (RSC, get it? [​IMG] ). By the way, they also have a DVD out and it's a kick.

    Has anyone seen the BBC production of Othello with Anthony Hopkins as the Moor (!?) and Bob Hoskins as Iago? Saw it in college and remember it being, well, thought-provoking.
     
  16. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Screenwriter
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    The BBC productions of the Complete Works are pretty decent productions. The video and audio quality isn't the best, but remember these were fairly low-budget television productions from the 1970's. The Hopkins/Hoskins OTHELLO is from this series. The cool thing about them is that they did ALL the plays; even those that aren't widely produced. I believe their TIMON OF ATHENS may be the only version of that play that is avaiable.
     
  17. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Cinematographer

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    two shakespeares we definitely need
    Othello - Laurence Oliver performance - Incredible! Warners owns this.

    Twelfth Night - Helen Bonham Carter - this was on laser but no DVD in sight. Who owns this?

    Midsummer Nights Dream - James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland.
    again, Warners owns this.
     
  18. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    Not strictly Shakespeare, but a hoot for fans of the Bard, is Theater of Blood, starring Vincent Price.

    Another vote for Titus. A truly extraordinary film and disc.
     
  19. Joe Bernardi

    Joe Bernardi Supporting Actor

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    Another loose adaptation is Joe MacBeth, a 1955 gangster movie starring Paul Douglas and Ruth Roman.
     
  20. John Berggren

    John Berggren Producer

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    Titus is fantastic. It's my only Shakespeare on DVD. I would love it if Julie Taymor would take on another Shakespeare production. MacBeth perhaps?
     

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