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Macbeth: The DVD Edition (Folger Shakespeare Library) Paperback – September 8, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Macbeth is a blast...ghoulish...beguiling...sardonic...an expression of how captivating an evening of crackling Shakespeare can be." -- Peter Marks, The Washington Post

"The explosive and overwhelming effect of a truck bomb...this horrific, riveting Macbeth ought to be seen by as many people as possible." -- Terry Teachout, The Wall Street Journal

About the Author

William Shakespeare was born in April 1564 in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, on England’s Avon River. When he was eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway. The couple had three children—an older daughter Susanna and twins, Judith and Hamnet. Hamnet, Shakespeare’s only son, died in childhood. The bulk of Shakespeare’s working life was spent in the theater world of London, where he established himself professionally by the early 1590s. He enjoyed success not only as a playwright and poet, but also as an actor and shareholder in an acting company. Although some think that sometime between 1610 and 1613 Shakespeare retired from the theater and returned home to Stratford, where he died in 1616, others believe that he may have continued to work in London until close to his death.

Barbara A. Mowat is Director of Research emerita at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Consulting Editor of Shakespeare Quarterly, and author of The Dramaturgy of Shakespeare’s Romances and of essays on Shakespeare’s plays and their editing.

Paul Werstine is Professor of English at the Graduate School and at King’s University College at Western University. He is a general editor of the New Variorum Shakespeare and author of Early Modern Playhouse Manuscripts and the Editing of Shakespeare and of many papers and articles on the printing and editing of Shakespeare’s plays.
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Product Details

  • Series: Folger Shakespeare Library
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Pap/DVD edition (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439172250
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439172254
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,000 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This review will focus on the enclosed DVD of the 2008 Folger Theatre production directed by Aaron Posner and Teller, since that's the real reason why I bought this product. I found the decision to package it with the Folger paperback edition of Macbeth somewhat odd, since I suspect most people who would be interested in the DVD already own at least one copy of the play. That said, the bundled edition is a great choice for a newcomer to Shakespeare; like all of the Folger editions, the book is very user-friendly, with facing-page notes and a running plot summary.

As one might expect, this production provides plenty of illusion and spectacle: witches vanish, air-drawn daggers hover, and by the end of the sleepwalking scene Lady Macbeth is drenched with blood that seems to come from nowhere. The central idea is that the audience sees what Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are seeing. This is a fast-paced, action-driven Macbeth, and I found it an interesting contrast to the dark, minimalist 1979 version with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench, in which nearly everything is left to the imagination. I recommend seeing both; the acting in the McKellen / Dench version is stronger, but I liked the energy, momentum, and inventive staging of the Folger production, and Ian Merrill Peakes is an excellent, unexpectedly sympathetic, Macbeth. He's a soldier, a bit inarticulate (his fumbling for words provides a touch of comedy in the early scenes), and clearly over his head in the tangled web of prophecy and murder in which he finds himself; his "She should have died hereafter" speech, addressed to a frightened, teenaged Seyton, is particularly powerful.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Since I am an English teacher, and I teach Macbeth every year, I own or have seen just about every movie version of Macbeth that's available. The special effects and interpretation of this version is fantastic for students being introduced to Shakespeare's plays for the first time.
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Format: Paperback
The Folger Library, the premier Shakespeare library in the world, is issuing a series of newer versions of Shakespeare's plays in book form with improved translations, notes, insights, and information to help the reader understand the background, settings, basics and subtleties of the plays. The series is very good, for a newcomer or a fan of the bard.

In 2008 Teller, of the magician team Penn and Teller, teamed up with director Posner to produce a version of MacBeth that includes the magic and witchcraft that Shakespeare wrote into this bloody murder play. The DVD included with this book (why package it in a slipcase when you can put it in the book? great idea) is the movie of that play's performance. I saw the play live at the Folger. Without the special effects I would say the play was very well acted and thoroughly entertaining. Before going to the performance I was worried that Penn's magic touches would seem hokey or too "Vegas", but the magic was worked into the scenes perfectly and this performance of the play is powerful, surprising, wonderful.

This DVD would be an excellent version to show to high school students or anyone with a beginning interest in Shakespeare. There is comedy, drama, magic, strife, loyalty, betrayal, murder, revenge, and more. Not counting the magic I felt like this was very close to the way the plays were presented in their original playing. With the magic the spell of the play is enhanced. The camera moves about the small Folger Elizabethan style theater and includes the audience at times. The movie part of the play is well done.

The extras on the DVD show the actors in rehearsal, the actors speaking about their roles and their approach to the performance, and Penn describing his long love for the play and how the magic that Shakespeare wove into the play is what Penn is trying to bring forth, which he does very well. I can't understand why this version of the play has not gone on tour.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I don't know what it is. I'm a Shakespeare fan. Not some sort of lit-major precious pinky-finger-extended fan, but I really do love the hell out of most Shakespeare. But I've seen Macbeth several times now, including a major staging recentl at Minneapolis's Guthrie Theater, and I just don't care for it. I suppose part of the reason is that, more than say Hamlet or Othello, Macbeth's "tragic flaw" is kind of just being a jerk. I don't find him sympathetic, and consequently I don't suppose his story is as engrossing to me.

Having said that, what Macbeth has in abundance is a context for funky staging, including theatrical special effects, and this DVD version of the play partly staged by Teller (of the Penn and Teller magic duo) takes full, giddy advantage of all that opportunity. It really was a masterstroke to let Teller run wild with this material. And the book that accompanies the DVD (or is it the other way around?) is extremely helpful as a reference for understanding the play better.

My favorite moments during the filmed version of the live play came when one of the characters simply breaks out from the stage and begins several minutes of very sharp, very relevant improvisation. Everything about this production is dead on. So if you're a fan of Macbeth already, this will surely represent a fresh telling (Tellering?) of the tale you will find invigorating. And if, like me, not so much--you will at least be able to understand better what so many people see in this tough little Scottish play.
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