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Shakespeare - The Winter's Tale / Royal Shakespeare Company, Barbican Theatre (1999)

Sir Antony Sher  |  NR |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Shakespeare - The Winter's Tale / Royal Shakespeare Company, Barbican Theatre + All's Well That Ends Well: Shakespeare Globe Theatre + William Shakespeare - Love's Labour's Lost
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Product Details

  • Actors: Sir Antony Sher
  • Format: Multiple Formats, 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: Kultur Video
  • DVD Release Date: November 22, 2005
  • Run Time: 170 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000BP86VE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,024 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

The Royal Shakespeare Company production of The Winter's Tale, performed at the Barbican Theatre, London, presented here for the first time in a complete and un-edited edition. This landmark production was hailed by critics and played to packed houses both in Stratford and London.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About as good as it gets... February 13, 2010
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It is a bit of a cliché to call A Winter's Tale a problematic play, but I'll confess I've always found it more interesting than truly masterful. This production, however, solves most of the problems I find just reading the words on the page. Of particular note is Antony Sher's Leontes, who manages to make the monarch's lightning turn from loving husband to jealous madman credible (as seemingly difficult as successfully carrying off Richard III's wooing of Lady Anne), and so well does this production sustain the tension that, when Hermione's death is announced near the end of the third act, the impact is visceral in its power. Acts IV and V, of course, display a radical shift in tone, but here the shepherd's interlude is genuinely entertaining (as opposed to tedious), helped in no small measure by Ian Hughes' scene-stealing turn as Autolycus. I was curious how the bear effect and disguises were going to be handled, and though I feared the worst, I was pleasantly surprised in both instances. This leaves only the resolution in Act V that I find (from the source material) rather drawn-out and silly; I understand it is only a "tale," but I just don't believe it really works. This production does nothing to change that view, although I'll freely admit, the fault is probably mine (it must be, since this is often called one of the most touching scenes in the canon). On the whole, this is about as good a filmed Shakespearean stage production as I have seen, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to those interested in the play. One quibble: there is no subtitle option, which would be useful were I ever to decide to teach the play in the future.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Stage Production June 20, 2007
By W.F.
This filmed stage recording is indeed magical. I believe a former critic's particular critique in this regard should be regarded in the light of two distinguishing characteristics of Shakespeare on film: whether the production is a film interpretation or a filmed stage production. This DVD is the latter: over-the-top FX, panoramic view and the like don't necessarily apply. Here one has the magic of being in the audience at a grand performance of the Royal Shakespeare Company, with the added pleasure of being granted close-ups! The acting is all-around sublime, especially Ian Hugh's Autolycus; I've yet to see a rogue interpreted better.

For a contrast of what can be accomplished with Shakespeare as film interpretation versus filmed stage production, compare Orson Welles' Othello with Richard Burton's Hamlet (both available through Amazon); both, I believe, are the ideal of each venue.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some Magical Moments February 11, 2012
Antony Sher's Leontes was, for me, one of the highlights of this production. His interpretation was intelligent, consistent and logical. Another strength of this production was, for me, the set--very fluid and three dimensional. I love to see Shakespeare live onstage, but the next best thing is to see a taped live performance.
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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Telling A Winter's Tale January 13, 2009
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Shakespeare - The Winter's Tale / Royal Shakespeare Company, Barbican Theatre

I'm no fan of productions of Shakespeare's plays that employ modern settings, or period settings that are clearly later than the time setting of the play itself. This RSC production of The Winter's Tale is, judging by costume, clearly set in the period 1890-1914, so that references to the oracle of Apollo at Delphi, "Sicilia", "Bohemia" are distracting anachronisms. All the same, Hermione and Perdita are well played, and once one gets used to the fact that one is seeing a film of a staged play things go along fairly well. Autolycus steals the show, I'm afraid. He is very entertaining, but as an embodiment of the principle of error, surrender to the impulses of "stronger blood," he cannot be taken seriously, and so the play's central theme which binds the last two acts to the first three is not well served. Nevertheless I liked the DVD well enough to use it in my undergraduate Shakespeare class.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it June 17, 2013
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I really liked the lead male actor, the one who played Leontes, he was excellent. the voice of the actress for Hermione's character was somewhat grating after a while. the scene between Autolycus and the shepherds son was superb.
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34 of 53 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars unappealing and unmagical August 26, 2006
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Sadly, this is not the kind of performance that is required for this late romance of Shakespeare. It is prosaic, with unattractive sets and in a wholly inappropriate vaguely 19th century setting and costuming. The acting is also a bit over-emphatic. Thus, the fantasy and suspension of belief required of oracles and lost princesses and restored queens clashes constantly with the more realistic setting. I hope someday someone can capture a beautiful stage production of this play as well as Cymbeline, Pericles, Tempest and Measure. To see a well done late Shakespeare quasi-comedy see Twelfth Night directed by Trevor Nunn with Bonham Carter, Stubbs etc.
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