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Shakespeare's An Age of Kings (Richard II / Henry IV / Henry V / Henry VI / Richard III) (1960)

Robert Hardy , Sean Connery  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Shakespeare's An Age of Kings (Richard II / Henry IV / Henry V / Henry VI / Richard III) + The Hollow Crown: The Complete Series
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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Hardy, Sean Connery, Judi Dench, Julian Glover, Eileen Atkins
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, Subtitled, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: Unknown
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 31, 2009
  • Run Time: 947 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,932 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Shakespeare's An Age of Kings (Richard II / Henry IV / Henry V / Henry VI / Richard III)" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Shakespeare's an Age of Kings (DVD)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
116 of 119 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ageless Age of Kings March 29, 2009
Verified Purchase
By any standard I can think of this series stands out in memory as the finest television treatment of Shakespeare that exists. If for nothing else the performances of Connery as Hotspur, Hardy as Hal and Harry in Henry V, and Richard Daneman as Richard III are worth owning this. Robert Hardy's St. Crispin's Day speech rivals Olivier's and Brannagh's, Daneman's Richard III also rivals Olivier's and the great Stratford performance of Antony Sher. At no time in his long career did Sean Connery ever exceed his incomparable interpretation of Hotspur. I have wished for, prayed for, hoped for an opportunity to see this again, and NOW! Thanks to all the gods of drama.
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85 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indespensable entertainment, and educational too! June 14, 2009
As a classically trained actor who has done more than his share of
Shakespeare, I can honestly say I've generally found the connecting
factors of his history cycle (Richard II to Richard III, with three
Henrys in between) somewhat elusive. This series has resolved quite
a multitude of misunderstandings I've had about these plays. To see
the whole cycle performed chronologically, with all the same actors
playing their designated roles throughout, gave me an appreciation
for these works that no actor (or basic Bardophile) should be without.
Many are familiar with Henry V or Richard III because of their past
cinematic incarnations, and some have only a perfunctory knowledge
of characters like Hotspur and Falstaff. This series, as dated as
it is, serves as a wonderful introduction. And what a treat to see
this cast! Many of them were (some still are) legendary performers
of the London stage who, because they never carved out a niche for
themselves in films (either American or British) are unknown outside
the realm. This series may be the only document available of their
incredible talents. Others of course, are more well known. To see
a pre-James Bond Sean Connery as Hotspur, or Judi Dench in her young
ingenue phase as Katherine of France (not to mention character actor
stalwarts like Julian Glover, Geoffrey Bayldon, and George A. Cooper)
is just so much gravy on an impeccable meal. An additional note for
those who may have difficulties in viewing and accepting this material,
is the on-screen English subtitle option that allows you to view the
Shakespearean text as its being spoken. And any qualms about length
are eased by the fact that the series is broken down as originally
broadcast - in 15 (mostly) one-hour segments. It's like viewing an
episodic Shakespearean historical soap opera. Perfect for students!
Highly recommended.
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60 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fifty years later March 30, 2009
We were living in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1961 when "Age of Kings" was shown on the local public TV station which, I think, was associated with the University of Nebraska. It was so memorable that I have never forgotten it -- especially Robert Hardy's performance as Prince Hal in Henry IV and as Henry V. He was so young and vigorous that his performance transcended the small screen and the absence of color. I've been a devotee of public TV ever since, but nothing was ever as exciting as those plays at that time. Perhaps it was TV's newness at the time, but since then TV drama has been prettied up and has lost its immediacy.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Performances worth preserving April 19, 2009
Verified Purchase
In the midst of the Great Recession, let me first remark what a bargain these discs are: eight Shakespeare plays for $35.00--a total of 947 minutes, we are informed. More important, they are glorious minutes. These are excellent productions, and stand up well nearly 50 years after they were recorded. They are not quite uncut, but the lost dialog is minimal. A side benefit is seeing familiar actors who have grown old on screen during those years delivering great youthful performances: Robert Hardy, whom my 11 year old son knows only as Cornelius Fudge, "Minister of Magic" in the Harry Potter series, as Prince Hal/Henry V; Sean Connery as Hotspur, two years before he first became James Bond; the great Judi Dench, and several others familiar to fans of BBC-TV. I cannot join in the complete adulation for these productions expressed by some adjacent reviewers, and I don't think they equal the histories as done by the BBC twenty years later for the "BBC Shakespeare" series. An occasional magniloquence and a general absence of irony root these performances more in the first half of the twentieth century than the second, but they are very good indeed, well worth experiencing as the first decade of the twenty-first century comes to a close. It's too bad that they were produced just before the great changes in video technology to color and to tape. Based on their low resolution, almost blurry at times, these black-and-white images have the look of something preserved by Kinescope, and not recorded directly to film or videotape (the latter, I think, not yet in general use in 1960). Still, we are the first generation able to experience directly complete performances of Shakespeare given half a century ago; in 1960, there was no possibility of seeing such a performance from 1910! We should be grateful to the BBC for preserving these productions and making them available on DVD.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
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I've only seen Richard II, Henry IV, and parts of Henry V so far. I just compared parts of 1HenryIV from this black-and-white production (ca. 1960) and the more recent BBC production of 1HIV (an unexpected "pun", what?) from the complete set done a few decades later. The later was quite good, with Anthony Quale a wonderful Falstaff and decent color photography. The Falstaff in this set is just as good. The Prince Hal in the later set has an annoying Beatles haircut, the one in this set has more classical command of his character; pity he wears ballet tights. This Richard II is wonderful, you will feel for this pitiful lead character (historically he was not so pitiful, of course, but that's another story).

While the newer BBC set looks somewhat higher budget, this older one generally displays more gravitas. Perhaps I'm a tad antiquarian, but classical music buffs will understand the difference between a terrific modern recording vs. some of the better older recordings when conductors could put the fear of G-d into the players to deliver an extra "sweep" that is not possible today. In this "Age of Kings" set, the actors convey a long familiarity with their roles and deliver a dramatic "sweep." Here is old-school, flamboyant confidence.

It's a shame the recording technology used was so unnecessarily primitive, but had they done it right you wouldn't be getting 16 hours of fine Bard for $35.

The cuts are well planned, so the stories unfolds quite gracefully.
Most of the plays are presented in two 65 minute segments, rather than act-by-act. The sub-titles are very helpful for modern viewers.
This set is well worth it even if you never get to the Henry VI plays.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars What the first productions may have looked like.
This is a version of Shakespeare's history plays filmed in the 50's. It is filmed in black and white and the settings are not so spectacular as those of later versions, such as The... Read more
Published 4 days ago by Alanai
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry Vi, Richard III, men for all...
In the early 1960's I saw parts of the American telecast of the second and third segments of "Henry VI" and am overjoyed 50 years later to view the whole series. Read more
Published 2 months ago by R.C.Beck the Raging Calvinist
5.0 out of 5 stars Robert Hardy What else can I say... ...
Robert Hardy

What else can I say....
Published 2 months ago by Enis
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest television events and interpretations of...
One of the greatest television events and interpretations of Shakespeare's Histories. Often it is said that this series "made" PBS. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Fred T. Isquith
4.0 out of 5 stars Quality
Underrated and forgotten. Sean Connery got his start here? Each one is an hour so it's a good introduction to the Bard's work. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Typeman
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what was expected
Great cast, but these ARE NOT Shakespeare's plays -- the DVDs are a "condensed version," created by combining FIVE of Shakespeare's plays into ONE! Read more
Published 16 months ago by Lynda Meyers
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Series
I watched these waaay back when, when they were first on US tv. Extremely well done. Not of course with all today's HD stuff, but still enjoyable in low def B&W.
Published 17 months ago by Waldo
5.0 out of 5 stars Great British acting
this set of the series should be seen by all the teenagers at school to enhance their appreciation of Shakespeare . Read more
Published 18 months ago by james hagan
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare triumphant!
This brilliant 1960 BBC production of Shakespeare's history plays is a must-purchase--if not for Robert Hardy's superb Prince Hal, then for Sean Connery's wondrous Hotspur: his... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Storyteller7
5.0 out of 5 stars shakespeare - BBC
I saw this series when i was a teenager and have been looking for them for years! Finally, i've got them - they are incredible. Read more
Published 21 months ago by feralblue
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