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Biography - William Shakespeare: Life of Drama


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Product Details

  • Actors: Biography
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • 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: A&E Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: August 10, 2004
  • Run Time: 50 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002V7KTQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #317,068 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By fra7299 VINE VOICE on June 17, 2005
Format: DVD
This video by A and E contains a 50 minute biography about the life and works of Shakespeare. What is gratifying is that this is not a video that tries to portray only the good of Shakespeare, but also the conflicts and controversies that presented themselves during his time. Some controversial topics are thrown in (whether you can choose to believe or not believe), such as the possibility that Shakespeare was bisexual and the idea that Shakespeare "borrowed" material from other written fiction. Still, this is a great film that can be used as an introduction to Shakespearean works (I am an English teacher, and use this before a drama unit with Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, or Julius Caesar).

The biography divides the life and times of Shakespeare into 5 "scenes" (although if they were totally accurate, they might have chosen the "seven" stages of his life). We learn a little bit of the background with his wife, Anne Hathaway, and their children, with a section on the devastating loss of one of Shakespeare's sons, Hamnet. We also learn about Shakespeare's upbringing, as well as some of the aspects of his life in Stretford. While some of the "gossip" included in the documentary might not be that appealing, I thought it was an exceptional video for its Elizabethan information background. For instance, we get some information on Shakespeare's rivals and how plays were viewed in London's society during that era, as well as the devastating aspects of such things as the Plague and sickness. There are plenty of tidbits from some of Shakespeare's plays and poems, such as brief clips from popular movies and plays (Hamlet, King Lear, The Tempest for example), as well as information about these dramas and their impact on his overall success.

Overall, a very informative look at not only Shakespeare, but the times he lived in. If you need a little background information on Shakespeare, this is a great video to take a look at.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Caponsacchi HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 19, 2001
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
After whetting our appetites with the observation that little is known about the man behind the plays, the A&E team provides a bland, surprisingly unengaging "5-act" biography of William Shakespeare. As the story proceeds, the producers rely more and more on quotations from the plays rather than on any "extrinsic" evidence. The result is a program that confirms what we already knew, or should have known, all along--the life of William Shakespeare is at best a mere footnote to the life of the plays themselves. Credit the producers for not indulging in this series' customary approach and sensationalizing the records (by claiming Shakepeare was really Queen Elizabeth, etc.). On the other hand, teachers and students of Shakespeare, as well as fans of the Bard, may find it difficult to justify an investment of money in a video this slight when, say, Olivier's "Henry V" or Branagh's "Much Ado About Nothing" are available at a comparable price.
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63 of 72 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 17, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
As a high school teacher, I found the visuals appealing and representative of the period in which Shakespeare lived. However, I ultimately decided against showing the video in class as it states without substantiation that Shakespeare was involved in a homosexual affair with his patron, the earl of Southampton. I suppose someone has taken the style of writing Shakespeare used in his encomiums to his patron as expressions of sexual ardor rather than the sycophantic flattery which was typical in an age when artistic types were looking for deep pockets to support their career. The Bard may have been "kissing up," as we would say nowadays, but it's doubtful it was in the sense the commentator used. I personally didn't feel it was worth opening that can of worms in our introductory lessons, but depending on one's purpose, others might choose otherwise.
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36 of 43 people found the following review helpful By R. J. Bockus on January 7, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Not only does "Uncle Matty" give a lot of great advice about dog training, it's incredible to watch him in action training dogs in minutes. Reading books are helpful, but to see the techniques,... and see them work, is invaluable. If you follow his advice and are consistent, you too can train even a difficult dog. If you have a dog and are having problems with it going to the bathroom in the house, biting, etc., THEN BUY THIS VIDEO! Please, don't get rid of the dog,... it's YOU, NOT THE DOG. UNCLE MATTY IS THE BEST!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By John E. Horisk on January 3, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
At the outset let me correct a typo in your own review -- Shakespeare's only son was named Hamnet (after a friend of the family) and not Hamlet, the title character of one of his more famous plays.
I am currently reading the three-volume set of sixty essays entitled "William Shakespeare -- His World, His Work, His Influence". The perspective this gives is that it is impossible to fully appreciate the individual and his efforts without a good feel for the environment in which he worked. That said, this video biography is, in my view, about as good a job as can be done in 50 minutes.
There is really more than enough material for a documentary series. Ken Burns, are you out there?
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 17, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
I enjoy Uncle Matty's friendly approach to dog training. He really seems to speak the dog's language, and his praise - "Uncle Matty's proud!" - is so funny. My dog wiggles all over when I praise her like this. Matty has some great tips and keen insights to share. Not everyone will appreciate this approach. But if you're a sentimental dog owner like me, then this video is for you.
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