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Beckett on Film DVD Set

18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description


This acclaimed film project includes all 19 plays of Samuel Beckett, considered the most significant Irish playwright of the 20th century. Many of these outstanding filmed productions have received critical acclaim at prestigious international film festivals around the world including New York, Toronto and Venice. Beckett on Film has brought together some of the most noted directors of our day including: Atom Egoyan, Damien Hirst, Neil Jordan, Conor McPherson, Damien O'Donnell, David Mamet, Anthony Minghella, Karel Reisz and Patricia Rozema. A list of distinguished actors including exceptional performances by Michael Gambon, the late Sir John Gielgud, John Hurt, Jeremy Irons, Julianne Moore, Harold Pinter, Alan Rickman and Kirsten Scott-Thomas.

THIS 4 DVD 19 Play Set includes:
Waiting for Godot (running time: 2 hours)
Not I (running time: 14 minutes)
Rough for Theatre I (running time: 20 minutes)
Ohio Impromptu (running time: 12 minutes)
Krapp's Last Tape (running time: 58 minutes)
What Where (running time: 12 minutes)
Footfalls (running time: 28 minutes)
Come and Go (running time: 8 minutes)
Act Without Words I (running time: 16 minutes)
Happy Days (running time: 1 hour 19 minutes)
Catastrophe (running time: 7 minutes)
Rough for Theatre II (running time: 30 minutes)
Breath (running time: 45 seconds)
That Time (running time: 20 minutes)
Endgame (running time: 1 hour 24 minutes)
Act Without Words II (running time: 11 minutes)
A Piece of Monologue (running time: 20 minutes)
Play (running time: 16 minutes)
Rockaby (running time: 14 minutes)

Plus a 52 minute Documentary on the making of the Beckett on Film Project

*Dolby Digital
*Color and Black & White

The hugely ambitious Beckett on Film project gathered together 19 different directors to turn the 19 stage works written by Samuel Beckett into films. The range is vast--from the 45-second Breath to the two hours of his most famous play, Waiting for Godot--but all the works reflect Beckett's penetrating obsessions with memory, regret, and the simple, excruciating experience of being. Not every film succeeds--like all great theater, Beckett's plays demand interaction with a live audience to express their full intent--and though scholars tout Beckett's every word as genius, several works are slight (Catastrophe, Ohio Impromptu, or What Where will leave many viewers unimpressed). But all the plays feature Beckett's uniquely distilled language; the greatest of them--including Waiting for Godot (in which two tramps pass the time while they wait for someone who may never come), Endgame (in which a blind man and his lame servant bicker and joke as the world declines), and Play (in which a love triangle is bitterly recalled by two women and a man in urns)--are astonishing in both their potent humor and piercing grief.

Though Beckett's stature drew in an impressive array of directors (including Anthony Minghella, Patricia Rozema, and Neil Jordan) and actors (including Jeremy Irons, Julianne Moore, Alan Rickman, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Michael Gambon, and John Gielgud), some of the finest work comes from relative unknowns. But the gem of the collection is Krapp's Last Tape, about an old man revisiting his life through recordings he has made throughout his years. It's the perfect marriage of text, actor (the incomparable John Hurt), and director (Atom Egoyan, The Sweet Hereafter); in their hands, the play spins from deeply funny to deeply sad, all with only the slightest dim of the light in Hurt's eyes. --Bret Fetzer

See all Editorial Reviews

Special Features

  • 19 plays on 4 discs
  • Documentary: "Check the Gate: Putting Beckett on Film" (52 min.)
  • Stills gallery
  • Special souvenir book
  • Interviews with John Crowley, John Hurt, Richard Eyre, Charles Garrad, Michael Lindsay-Hogg, Enda Huges, Neil Jordan, Anthony Minghella, Patricia Rozema, Charles Sturridge, and Kieron J. Walsh

Product Details

  • Actors: Kristen Scott Thomas, Alan Rickman, Harold Pinter, Julianne Moore, Jeremy Irons
  • Directors: Walter Asmus, Aton Egoyan, Charles Garrad, Enda Hughes, Robin Lefevre
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Box set, Black & White, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 4
  • Rated: G (General Audience)
  • Studio: Ambrose Video
  • DVD Release Date: July 22, 2002
  • Run Time: 647 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006FXQN
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,001 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Beckett on Film DVD Set" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

105 of 108 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 30, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
First let me say I've been waiting my whole adult life for this collection. I've spent 30 years trying to collect audio and video recordings of Beckett's work, and suddenly here are all the theatre peices in one beautiful package. The chance that you will ever find another film version of most of these works, or ever have a chance to see them on stage, is almost nil. If you love Waiting for Godot and Endgame, you will not regret the money spent on this. Unlike most plays and almost all movies, these are peices to be seen again and again, over a lifetime, letting the beauty and subtlety of Beckett's language slowly soak into your being.
That being said, I was disappointed with only one peice: Endgame. With Michael Gambon as one of the leads, I expected the most from this play. But I'm afraid he was badly misdirected in this. He simply enjoys his dispair too much. He enjoys being a selfish, cruel master and his "Perhaps I could go on..." speech (one of Beckett's greatest)loses all its power. Gambon delivers this with hardly a pause, rambling on with the same puckish tone as the rest of his performance. (I thought maybe I was just too used to an earlier film version directed by Beckett, so I went back to the script to check this. After almost every phrase in the speech, Beckett has written (Pause). Without these pauses to let the anguish of the words sink into our minds, the speech carries no more weight than the rest of the text. Well, probably much more than you wanted to know.)
Short Review: BUY THIS NOW! You'll be watching these films again and again as long as you own a DVD player.
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73 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Caron on October 22, 2002
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Curious that DVD Basen, the wonderful Danish web-compendium of dvd reviews from all over the world, has yet to register a word on BECKETT ON FILM, by any measure the dvd release of the year. These film renditions of Samuel Beckett's nineteen works for the stage (which is not the same as his "complete dramatic works," which would include radio plays and scripts for television), are, for the most part, thrillingly successful. The plays fall into two types. WAITING FOR GODOT, ENDGAME, KRAPP'S LAST TAPE, and HAPPY DAYS, however revolutionary in their time, still more or less conform to the conventional understanding of what a play is, ie: they contain recognizable characters and the shortest is an hour long. Despite the filmmakers' protests to make true movies of these plays, as opposed to "filmed plays," each of their single-locale settings make the theatrical origins of each work inescapable. Having said that, they are the best "filmed plays" this viewer has ever seen. Most of the remaining plays, particularly the late plays, are very short (under 15 minutes), and as Alan Rickman remarks, seem more like installations or "performance art," then full-fledged plays. What makes these works among the greatest plays ever written is precisely their inability to be transfered to another medium. With one exception, each of these little films, even the most brilliant of them (I'm thinking of the mind-blowing PLAY), must somehow compromise itself as a play in order to make the transition to film. The exception is OHIO IMPROMPTU. The intensity of this two character, ten minute piece perhaps reaches the full measure of its power as a film. Beckett's stage directions specify that its two actors be as alike as possible.Read more ›
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99 of 111 people found the following review helpful By ligeti42 on August 11, 2003
Format: DVD
Those who are familiar with the original productions will find this collection both exhilarating and frustrating. The more faithful the directors are to Beckett's vision, the more successful the adaptation to film. Come and Go is perhaps the purest of them, and also the most chilling. Other effective adaptations include Krapp's Last Tape, Rough for Theatre II, Act Without Words II, A Piece of Monologue, and Play (Minghella's truly -cinematic- adaptation probably deserves the highest marks). I'm ambivalent about many others, not least Ohio Impromptu and Catastrophe.
Unfortunately the longer plays (Godot, Happy Days, and Endgame) suffer from the directors' mistaken impression that Beckett's characters must be decrepit, disgusting, and/or humorless. Quite the contrary, there is levity and compassion to be found in Beckett's work, and without it his meditations become intolerable rather than incisive. Godot has its moments, but it's not nearly as effective (or funny) as any number of previous productions.
Pacing is also a significant issue here. Beckett's plays (excepting Not I and Play) demand a very slow reading, with an abundance of silence. Many of these adaptations simply plow through the texts with no apparent consideration of heft or nuance; Rockaby is probably the most egregious example. Other directorial liberties make Not I and What Where wholly unacceptable; these simply cannot be considered Beckett's work.
Happily, more Beckett productions are becoming available on DVD. You can purchase Happy Days with Irene Worth's excellent performance on this very site, three plays (Eh Joe, Footfalls, Rockaby) starring Beckett's favorite actress Billie Whitelaw, and a DVD of Beckett Directs Beckett (the three long plays) hopefully in the near future.
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