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Midsummer Night's Dream [VHS] (1968)

Derek Godfrey , Barbara Jefford , Peter Hall  |  Unrated |  VHS Tape
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Derek Godfrey, Barbara Jefford, Nicholas Selby, Hugh Sullivan, David Warner
  • Directors: Peter Hall
  • Writers: William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Martin Ransohoff, Michael Birkett
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Water Bearer Films
  • VHS Release Date: November 11, 1998
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6302940605
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #426,647 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


This 1968 Royal Shakespeare Company film version of the Bard's comedy is a lost cause. Directed by Peter Hall, the effort is choppy and distracting, with lines intentionally rushed and natural exteriors often overwhelming any focus on characters or story turns. The cast of outstanding names may reel one in, but there is nothing whole cloth about this project, leaving one mostly to marvel at the way Diana Rigg, Ian Holm, Judi Dench (in scanty costume), and Helen Mirren looked three decades ago. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
It's first of all, Midsummer Night's Dream, always a winner. But also, this film is full of some magnificent stars when they were young.. Diana Rigg -- if she were all ya got, that would be enough. However, you get Ian Holm, who was the android in the first Aliens movie and also in Branagh's Henry V, and many other wonderful shows. Then, a young Dame Judi Dench.. a great performance and she's nearly nude to boot!!
And if you're a fan of the british comedy Keeping Up Appearances, you get a treat of watching a young Clive Swift (Richard in KUA).
This is fun, campy, and well deserving to be a keeper. Someone complained about the quality.. yes, this transfer of film to video has a couple of old-age problems, but they are way too few to notice by the discriminating eye.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love It or Hate It -- But Don't Miss It May 14, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This movie is awful. This movie is brilliant. Either way, Peter Hall brings *A Midsummer Night's Dream* off the screen and into your gut. The trick lies in enjoying the sensation of being disoriented: the film opens; it rains English rain; an English bird chirps; we see a stately English mansion; the word on the screen reads "ATHENS". The joke has begun.
But the film is more than a joke. Hall's filming constantly jars the viewer and wakes him/her up to the fact that logic and continuity are just concepts that we impose on an essentially chaotic world. At one moment Lysander and Hermia are in the court -- cut to them in a boat (although no time appears to have passed). Helena recites a soliloquy and, while doing so, pops up disconcertingly next to a pillar and then a bush and then a tree. We see Titania and Oberon run towards each other and come face to face -- only to cut to a view of them running towards each other all over again. Time, as in *Hamlet*, is out of joint. The performances are muted, almost sullen. The atmosphere, dark. And everyone gets muddy.
This film is not light and bright and sparkling, but it's a treat to see young Helen Mirren, Diana Rigg, Ian Holm and Judi Dench (watch her age, classically, through *Henry V*, *Hamlet* and *Shakespeare in Love*). The film, too, reveals how embedded in culture our Shakespeare is: the women wear eyeliner a la sixties; Hippolyta is in a leather miniskirt and go-go boots, and the fairies are very green partially naked flower children. The magic plant, love-in-idleness, is the drug of choice. Enjoy this dark ride through *A Midsummer Night's Dream.* Better yet, make an enormous bowl of popcorn and watch it back-to-back with the new version starring Michelle Pfeiffer. Do, however, make sure it's a very big bowl of popcorn.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This adaptation is outstanding!! January 4, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
I just had to weigh in when I read the wide range of opinions posted regarding this film -- most seem to have strong feelings about it, either favorable or decidedly not so. OK, so the film quality is not ideal, and the jerky camera shots are intermingled with cheesy special effects... so what, the ACTING is excellent! The feeling and expression behind each and every actor and actress in this production is sincere and intelligent. Unlike certain "hot" actors on the current scene (Ahem... Mr. Branagh), these young players (many of whom have become the revered masters of today) deliver the goods with moderation, humility, humor, intellect, and yes, passion. They are also all eminently well trained in the classic style (it is the Royal Shakespeare Company, after all) and it shows. Throw all the modern special effects and scenery to the dogs... Fine acting like this is all I'll ever want.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
But he really ought to reconsider displaying his ignorance in such a public forum. Admittedly, this production is not for everyone; if you cannot appreciate a production which strips away special effects and slick editing to allow the Bard's magical words to be spoken by well-cast (particularly Ian Richardson as Oberon) actors, you should stick with Titanic and Phantom Menace. I can't imagine what you were expecting, but I'm truly sorry you didn't get it. To answer your question, this IS the RSC's performance (albeit it bit more adventurous a production than one would expect from today's RSC). Lastly, let me quote from Allan Bloom's excellent work, "Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human." "Unfortunately, every production of [A Midsummer Night's Dream] that I have been able to attend has been a brutal disaster, with the exception of Peter Hall's motion picture of 1968, happily available on videotape."
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
This fantastic version of Midsummer's Night Dream will keep any viewer glued to the screen. However, it is best for those who have a liking for the absurd in arts. For example, the choppy close ups, odd sound and bizarre lighting effects might turn some viewers off. If you love the story enough, you can use those effects to your advantage as the viewer. If you like big budget Hollywood versions of Shakespeare, don't bother with this one. However, if you enjoy true art, this video will find a place in your permanent collection.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ever Notice How Some Couples Look Alike? September 13, 2006
Format:VHS Tape
In this late 1960s production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream", we are presented with Shakespeare for the Hippie Generation, complete with barely-clothed flower-children fairies in bad paint, courtesy of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
However, it is an overall thorough and winning production of the Bard's comedy, and what is striking is not only how well the two young female leads fit Shakespeare's description of them, but also, how the couples are each other's physical counterparts in so many ways. Barbara Jefford and Derek Godfrey lend dignity and elegance to the loving noble couple, Hippolyta and Theseus. Interstingly, they are both blue-eyed brunettes. One truly gets a sense of their happiness together. But a short while later, they are compelled, as rulers, to address the issue of young, fair, petite, Hermia (a young, sweet-voiced Helen Mirren, who has only improved with age), who is being forced to marry a man she does not love, with the alternatives of joining the Ancient Greek equivalent of a convent, or execution.
But the equally fair Lysander(David Warner), the man she does love, is planning to elope with her. As she anticipates a new life with her beloved, she consults her best friend, Helena (Diana Rigg), who is as tall, dark-haired, and large-boned as Demetrius (Michael Jayston)whom she loves, but who spurns her.
In the meantime, trouble in the fairy world will soon result in the wreaking of havoc among the mortals.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It is one of my very favorite Shakespeare performances
It is one of my very favorite Shakespeare performances. Though it is old (1969) it is still the best and I am glad to have it in DVD.
Published 1 month ago by Kathryn Lee Freeman
4.0 out of 5 stars Great company. Dated production.
OK, this was a surprise to me. Diana Rigg, not so great. Helen Mirren, beautiful, well played and understated. The men, dull dull dull. Read more
Published 2 months ago by R. David Robinson
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb cast, dated staging
This 1968 RSC production, directed by Peter Hall, is marred by its "contemporary" staging. The cast is splendid. Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Diana Rygg, Ian Richardson... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sandra M. Taylor
4.0 out of 5 stars Midsummer's Nights Dream
It is good to know that the HD version of this movie that is available on one DVD and from Amazon Streaming is not restored but is better quality than what I had before, and in the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Andrew A. Prescott
2.0 out of 5 stars I hate Shakespeare
I just wanted to see a 30 something Judi Dench running around bare chested, and a 20 something Helen Mirren.
Published 3 months ago by ZARTT
5.0 out of 5 stars 1960's Midsummer Night's Dream Hits the Mark
This is my favorite film version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream". It's filled with well-known stars from the British stage and screen.
Published 4 months ago by John Pike
5.0 out of 5 stars Great transfer and great performances!
This DVD-R copy of Peter Hall's Midsummer Night's Dream is a HUGE improvement over the WaterBearer Film's DVD release. Read more
Published 5 months ago by K. Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable older production
I watched this as part of an online Shakespeare course I am taking. The only count against it was the sound quality, but I assume it is that way because it is on older film. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Linda Stuart
3.0 out of 5 stars The physical film copy was poor.
The quality of parts of the film was poor. There were scratches probably from the original. Was this the only film copy available when the VHS was created?
Published 5 months ago by Fred Fleming
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic experience. Don't miss this version.
The acting is superb. Just look at the cast! The enunciation is clear so that the language is accessible. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Southern Train
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