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Macbeth / McKellen, Dench (Thames Shakespeare Collection) (2004)

Ian McKellen , Judi Dench , Philip Casson  |  NR |  DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, John Bown, Susan Dury, Judith Harte
  • Directors: Philip Casson
  • Writers: Trevor Nunn, William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Trevor Nunn, Verity Lambert
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • 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: November 16, 2004
  • Run Time: 145 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002TVWYW
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,610 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Macbeth / McKellen, Dench (Thames Shakespeare Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Introduction to Macbeth with Ian McKellen
  • The Scottish Play: An Explanation with Ian McKellen
  • Timeline of William Shakespeare's life and plays
  • Biography and filmography of Ian McKellen
  • Biography and filmography of Judi Dench

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Murder, prophecy, and witches! MACBETH returns, starring Academy Award®-nominee Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings trilogy) and Academy Award®-winner Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love), on DVD for the first time anywhere. First broadcast on Britain's Thame

Two of England's greatest actors, Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Judi Dench, electrify in this lean, stripped-down production of Shakespeare's darkest tragedy. In the wake of a battle, the Scottish warrior Macbeth (McKellen, Gods and Monsters, Lord of the Rings) receives a prophecy from a trio of witches: He shall be king. When fate doesn't unfold quickly enough, Macbeth and his even more ambitious wife (Dench, Shakespeare in Love, Iris) decide to give it a push. McKellen sweats anxiously and oozes a creeping lust for power, while Dench is hypnotically vicious from her first moment. For audiences used to their film careers, this grand pair will seem young as pups (this TV movie is from 1979, adapted from an acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company production)--but that only gives them an added edge of sex and vigor. Extras include the older McKellen thoughtfully commenting on the play and this classic production. --Bret Fetzer

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
198 of 200 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This production highlights the Christian v. pagan elements, and in other ways deals in opposites (men's v. women's perceptions, solid v. spirit worlds, etc.), but without beating you over the head with it. The witch scenes are amazing--the production borrows from Irish "bog people" imagery with the witches' stick puppets representing Macbeth's visions, with a little borrowing from Carlos Castaneda's peyote trips, and maybe the minimal "circle" staging of Equus. Minimal props and furniture; the actors carry it all the way, brilliantly. I can't imagine anyone doing a better, visceral, more committed job with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth than McKellan and Dench. It could sell huge--for a Shakespeare film--if only it wasn't probably too obviously a taped stage production (it doesn't try to be otherwise). A couple of turtlenecks among the costumes betray the 70's-era staging, but otherwise the costuming is great and doesn't date the production. If you a) are a fan of Ian McKellan and/or Judi Dench and b) appreciate great Shakespeare performances and want to be "in the know" on what's considered the definitive Macbeth staging of the past couple decades, this is the one.
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131 of 135 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars McKellen and Dench are outstanding... December 29, 2002
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
I purchased this tape after it was featured in an interview with Ian McKellen on Inside the Actor?s Studio and I decided I had to have it for my collection. This is a very simply staged version of Shakespeare's most violent play, and against this basic black canvas you witness two of the greatest stage actors of all time. The queen knighted both McKellen and Dench after this production, and rightfully so. They are both national treasures, as they should be.
This film is worth watching for these two outstanding performances alone, and for the beauty of the language, unencumbered by complex technical effects. Trevor Nunn has chosen to highlight the emotional deterioration of MacBeth and his Lady for this production, and I wonder if that choice was made because he had these two incredible actors for this production, or if he chose them for this purpose (a variation on the chicken/egg theory of theatrical production).
The "apparitions" (Banquo, dagger, et al) occur in MacBeth's head only -- McKellen's amazing ability convinces you that he sees bloody, murdered Banquo seated at the table, although we do not see him. (Believe me, this is infinitely preferable to some other Banquo apparitions I've witnessed in other productions.) Dench is, quite simply, the best actor alive to ever trod down the even road of the Bard?s blank verse. Period. Her Lady MacBeth?s degeneration is set in motion from the first letter-reading scene, climaxing in the most jaw-dropping sleepwalking scene ever.
Shakespeare has never SOUNDED better?much of this recording would work equally well as an audio-only version.
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77 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare cannot be done better on screen January 13, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Shakespeare's plays, I find, often tend not to come off too well on screen. The essence of these works is the language: it is Shakespeare's blank verse that contains the drama. But all too often, this gets lost on the screen. However, this much acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company production, directed by Trevor Nunn, gets it absolutely right. The sets are minimal; the lighting is imaginative, but dark; the camera movements and editing are unobtrusive: nothing distracts from the verse, which - needless to say, given this cast - is beautifully spoken. The costumes are taken from different periods in history, and so do not tie the action down to any particular time; but there is a unity both in design and in purpose.
The atmosphere is intense and claustrophobic from the very beginning. Judi Dench presents a Lady Macbeth who, right from the start, is terrified of the spirits she calls upon to possess her. Ian MacKellen presents us with a figure on the verge of insanity, and possibly beyond: this Macbeth has to convince himself that "all is but toys", for otherwise, he could not go on living with the burden of such guilt. It is terrifying to see these figures descend further into the depths of evil and madness. Somehow, all horror films seem a bit tame after this: the evil does not come from the monster outside, but from the monster within ourselves.
In brief, this is not prettified Shakespeare. If you are looking for spectacle and opulence, it would be best to look elsewhere. But if you are looking for an intelligent reading of one of the great undisputed masterpieces of drama, then you need look no further.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Creepy Couple April 12, 2006
By wahzoh
This production is decades old, but will continue to be a classic. The settings are spare, the costumes are minimalist and stark. The acting is truly scarey. Ian McKellan tends to be a bit twitchy for my taste as an actor, but here the twitchiness works very well. Spitting, fuming, puking even at one point, he wrestles with a terrible evil he has hatched inside himself. I imagine it would have been hard to sit through in the theatre with no intermission.

Judi Dench - a goddess to me - is alternately terrifying and heartbreaking as Lady MacBeth. Her sleepwalking scene has a desperate, lost quality to it, and the scene climaxes in a bottomless cry from her heavy heart which gives me goosebumps just to think of it.

A young Roger Rees (just off his stint as Nicholas Nickleby - does anyone here but me remember that one, or am I dating myself?) plays Malcolm, perhaps bringing some inadvertent comedy to the production. Malcolm's scene where he comdemns himself for his lust and then admits that he's a virgin. To me, it's a hoot, but maybe I was just letting off tension steam from the rest of the play.

The witches are creepy, too. Now I know why they call them "weird" sisters. Really weird, with even more drool and twitching.

All in all, I think this is the best MacBeth that you'll find on tape. It's just a matter of whether or not you can sit through it without jumping out of your skin. Highly recommended. A classic.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Handsome Ian cKellen in the ultimate Scottish Play-Now to see his...
Hated Shakespeare as required reading in high school.This production made me change my mind.Loved Sir Ian and Dame Judi,but also so many other now familiar faces. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ellen
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 1 month ago by Marvet W.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Judi Dench is amazing. The best Lady Macbeth!
Published 2 months ago by PATRICIA MURPHY
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months ago by donquixote
5.0 out of 5 stars FOR SHCOOL MYEAR 2014-2015
Published 5 months ago by season
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
Always loved Shakespeare and modern version s make that olde English understandable. Judy. Dench w as good but I would wish there had a little more scenery
Published 6 months ago by June Waters
4.0 out of 5 stars How could you dislike anything with Dame Judi?
It's not my favorite production of _Macbeth_, but it's a good one. Whilst it was on, my Christmas tree fell over. The Scottish Tradegy's curse continues . . .
Published 9 months ago by Bibliophile
1.0 out of 5 stars overwrought, over acted, unwatchable mess
over-wrought overacting overcompensating for lack of set to play off but going way over the top

from witches to dench this is just wrong

all wrong... Read more
Published 10 months ago by C. Scanlon
5.0 out of 5 stars Even if you do not "like Shakespeare", you will be able to enjoy this...
With this performance, we can see how people can be both deceived and self-deluded into taking actions that will eventually destroy them. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Julia A. Musson
3.0 out of 5 stars okay
It was a bit boring because it was did not do a lot with sets but it has good actors
Published 13 months ago by Louise McGuire
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