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Antigone (Broadway Theatre Archive)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Geneviève Bujold, Stacy Keach, Leah Chandler, James Naughton, Fritz Weaver
  • Directors: Gerald Freedman
  • Writers: Jean Anouilh, Lewis Galantiere, Sophocles
  • Producers: David Griffiths, Jac Venza
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 20, 2001
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005QBZ5
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,597 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Antigone (Broadway Theatre Archive)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Filmographies of Genevieve Bujold, Stacy Keach, and Fritz Weaver
  • Historical liner notes

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

With fierce originality, this powerful adaptation of the Sophocles tragedy presents a world of honor, treachery and fateful consequences. Acclaimed actress Genevieve Bujold skillfully combines elements of zealotry and idealism in her affecting portrait of Antigone. Jean Anouilh's retelling of "Antigone" stages the inescapably wrenching central confrontation between Antigone and Creon by presenting Bujold and Fritz Weaver seated at a long, executive-suite table--a hallmark of Anouilh's play. The New York Times critic, John J. O'Connor, lauded this "Antigone" as "well acted, well directed and beautifully staged."


French playwright Jean Anouilh's modernized version of the classic Greek tragedy Antigone sets the story in the sleek palace of a fascist state ruled by Creon (veteran stage actor Fritz Weaver). His niece Antigone (Geneviève Bujold, Dead Ringers) is horrified by Creon's order that the body of her brother--who led a rebellion against the state--be left on the battlefield to rot. When she violates the edict, guards haul her before Creon, who struggles to convince her that his reasons are honorable, despite the ugly consequences, but Antigone remains steadfast, even though her death will result. The great strength of Antigone is that there is no easy solution to the conflict, which leads to disaster for everyone involved. Bujold glows as the obsessed, martyrlike Antigone; Weaver brings passion to Creon's mixture of reason and tyranny; and Stacy Keach (Fat City) plays the narrating Chorus with a weary, ironic detachment. --Bret Fetzer

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Curtis Crawford on June 23, 2002
Format: DVD
Genevieve Bujold as Antigone is splendid; Fritz Weaver as Creon, even better. Anouilh's version of Antigone is longer than Sophocles', allocating far more time to the confrontation between the heroine and the king. Bujold has fine moments in this scene, but Weaver's acting skill and stage presence are completely, masterfully at home. What a shame that most of his video work has been with scripts which, compared with this, were poor stuff!
Before the struggle with Creon, there is a love scene between Antigone and her fiance, Haemon. James Naughton's handsome, well dressed, thoroughly decent, college-boy Haemon, is the sturdy male partner, with and around whom Bujold dances in words and movement. Beautifully and affectingly. Stacy Keach as Chorus, Aline Macmahon as the nurse, Louis Zorich as Jonas (the first guard) and Peter Brandon as the messenger suit the performance well and contribute to its excellence.
Jean Anouilh wrote in French. The translation used in this performance is Lewis Galantiere's "adaptation." It was used for the American premiere, New York City 1946, starring Katherine Cornell as Antigone and Cedric Hardwicke as Creon. Galantiere writes beautifully, but so does Anouilh, whom it's a shame to adapt when you can stay true to the original. Often, this production seems to agree, restoring some of the adapter's cuts and deleting various additions and emendations.
Galantiere's understanding of the heroine's motives differs from Anouilh's in important respects. At the beginning of the play, Galantiere has Chorus, when introducing Antigone, assert that she is "on the side of the gods against the tyrant, of Man against the State." That may be how many people, vaguely remembering Sophocles, think of the character.
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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Queen of Swords on November 21, 2001
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I first saw this production of "Antigone" on a scratchy VHS recording back in 1979. I was a freshman in high school, and the show, especially Genevieve Bujold's performance, made a tremendous impression on me. I had hardly dared hope that it would one day be released on DVD.
It's not quite as perfect as I remember it -- but well worth seeing. Bujold is excellent: her "dark, tense, serious girl" is a near-perfect portrayal of Anouilh's heroine, even if she goes into an excess of hysteria near the end of her confrontation with Creon. She is passionate, stubborn, and vulnerable even in her unwillingness to yield. Fritz Weaver is a fine actor, but his performance was undercut by a terrible hair and makeup job that made him look more like someone who lives in an attic than a king who is supremely conscious of public image. He does, however, manage to make Creon "the most persuasive of tyrants." Stacy Keach does a fine, understated job as the detached, cynical Chorus. The rest of the cast: Haemon, Ismene, the Guard, the Messenger, the Nurse, are competent but not anywhere near the same caliber as the leads, which is unfortunate. It would be nice to one day see a Haemon who actually seems as if he was capable of winning the love of a fierce and passionate creature like Antigone, or an Ismene who was as much a princess as a rationalizing, fearful nay-sayer, or a Guard who seemed genuinely dangerous.
Before the performance, there is a disclaimer about this DVD edition betraying the limitations of the original recording, and it is indeed an issue. The picture is sometimes blurred or scratchy, and the sound is out of balance in places -- particularly at the beginning, when the piano solo is intrusive under the Chorus's introduction.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Alan on July 17, 2008
Format: DVD
There are times when people disagree with you on a play, movie or book, but you can understand why they feel differently. Reading some of the negative reviews for this DVD, I have to say I'm a little mystified.

One reviewer complains that this is not the Sophocles play "Antigone." Yes, it's not; it's Jean Anouilh's very free adaptation of it, further adapted into English by Lewis Galantiere. It seems a little silly to attack this for not being Sophocles when the cover says "Jean Anouilh's Antigone." In addition, the amazon editorial review makes it clear that this is Anouillh's play, and the "Product Description" (taken from the back cover of the DVD box) also makes it clear. So it's not as if this DVD is masquerading as the Sophocles play or that amazon is misleading people.

Sophocles wrote a great play but so did Anouilh. Written and first produced during the Nazi occupation of France, it clearly was intended as a protest against the Nazis and even more against the French collaborators, with Creon representing the collaborators and Antigone representing the resistance. This is so obvious that it's a little surprising that the Nazis allowed the play to be performed, even in a censored version.

As one reviewer notes, the technical aspects of the presentation are imperfect. This PBS production dates from 1974 and it was obviously done on a low budget. But I found the sound to be fine except for some very brief moments here and there. Sometimes the picture is a little blurry, but rarely enough to be more than a passing and minor annoyance. (Those who are bothered by the sound here would surely have a more difficult time watching some of the boxed sets of BBC productions of classic plays. Some of those have really problematic sound, much worse than this.
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