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Twelfth Night [VHS]

233 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Helena Bonham Carter, Richard E. Grant, Imogen Stubbs, Steven Mackintosh, Nicholas Farrell
  • Directors: Trevor Nunn
  • Writers: Trevor Nunn, William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Bob Hayward, Christopher Ball, David Garrett, David Parfitt, Greg Smith
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: New Line Home Video
  • VHS Release Date: July 14, 1998
  • Run Time: 134 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (233 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6304449313
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,390 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

This picture is an adaptation of Shakespeare's classic comedy. The setting has been updated to the victorian era but the focus is still on the universal question of gender.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

152 of 157 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 6, 2003
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Trevor Nunn's Twelfth Night sits up on the same pedestal as Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing. Not a suprise, either, given that both films came out of Branagh's Renaissance Films. Reset in the Victorian era, Nunn maintains the delicate balance of comedy and drama (much like Much Ado), carried out in one amazing cast. Nunn does a wonderful job of keeping most of Shakespeare's comedy in-tact, editing only when neccessary to appease a film audience (most noticeable in Viola's famous "I left no ring with her" monologue being broken up throughout the film).
No member disappoints and each one excels in their own right. Helena Bonham Carter, queen of period films, plays an astounding Olivia with excellent timing. Imogen Stubbs, whom I've only seen play a small role in Sense and Sensibility, exceeds all expectations set for her in the role of Viola. And Ben Kingsley (yes, Ghandi), reminds us of his Royal Shakespeare Company roots as a multi-dimensional Feste.
The score, unhappily available on CD (albeit Kingley's "The Wind and the Rain" is available on the CD collection "If Music Be the Food of Love: Shakespeare at the Movies"), is breathtaking and well-done, particularly for a play that includes so much music as a stage performance. It corrolates perfectly with the lush settings (often involving romantic sea-scapes and Victorian manor houses) and costumes.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment about this film is that it's not available on DVD. However, it alone is reason enough for me to keep my VCR.
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118 of 122 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 21, 1998
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Trevor Nunn's adaptation of "Twelfth Night" is a masterpiece of insight and nuance. Instead of simply playing up the obvious slapstick of this gender-bending comedy of mistaken identity, Nunn highlights the dark undertones of the plot which yield surprising depth and poignancy. Those familiar with the play will notice some alterations in the original text, but those who are new to Shakespeare will thank Mr. Nunn for making the story easier to follow and a pleasure to behold. For example, when Duke Orsino (Toby Stephens) utters the famous opening line of the play, "If music be the food of love, play on," ten minutes have already elapsed. But what takes place in those ten minutes sets up the plot beautifully and brings the characters to life.
The story centers around two twins, Viola (Imogen Stubbs in a star-making performance) and Sebastian (Stephen Makintosh), who are shipwrecked and separated at sea, each fearing the other is dead. Viola washes up on the shore of a hostile country and disguises herself in her brother's clothes to avoid capture and keep his memory alive. The other two main characters, Olivia (Helena Bonham Carter), and Orsino (Toby Stephens), are similarly troubled. Olivia mourns her own brother's recent death and Orsino suffers passionate unrequited love for Olivia, who refuses to see him.
Viola's male alter ego, Cesario, winds up in Orsino's court, becomes his best friend, and (here's the rub) romantic emissary to Olivia. What follows is a hilarious and poignant farce in which Olivia falls in love with Orsino's messenger, Cesario (Viola) who, under her disguise, is desperately in love with Orsino.
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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful By A. Casalino VINE VOICE on July 7, 2000
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
How wonderful that I should happen upon this movie one early summer evening not so very long ago - and that it should brighten the wettest, most overcast June immemorial!
Director Trevor Nunn set this Shakespeare play in the Victorian era, and his adaptation is overflowing with talent - Imogen Stubbs (Viola) shows herself to be a versatile actress who can brilliantly play this complex lead with ease! Also notable were Nigel Hawthorne (Malvolio), Toby Stephens (Orsino), Helena Bonham Carter (wonderful as Olivia, although I'd expected it as I've never seen her performances as anything less), Richard E. Grant (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), and Imelda Staunten (Maria) -- and Ben Kingsley (the fool, Feste) did such a magnificent job - and, incidently, he sings superbly - he would easily have stolen the show if it weren't for the flawless performances of the entire cast!
I had to give it four stars instead of five because it was very hard to follow what was being spoken much of the time. I actually had to pull out my "Riverside Shakespeare" to follow what was being said. Much of this movie is verbatim directly from the play itself - which I must say endears it further into my heart.
In the midst of a summer where, at least here in my little realm of the earth, it "raineth every day," a movie such as this eases the doldrums. This movie is a delight!
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By F. S. L'hoir VINE VOICE on October 6, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
If this "Twelfth Night" is not the definitive "Twelfth Night," it comes close. Under the guidance of director Trevor Nunn, the superb cast plays Shakespeare not only for laughs but also for the dark pathos that underlies the comedy, as is evident in Feste's song, "Come away, come away death, and in sad cypress let me be laid." Ben Kingsley portrays Shakespeare's enigmatic clown, whose rendition of the charming, but usually conventional, "O mistress mine, where are you roaming?," is tinged with a tragic undertone. It not only complements the love-sick Duke Orsino's lament, "If music be the food of love, play on," but, as its last strains linger in the air, it suffuses its listeners with an inexpressible sadness. It is as if, with the final notes, the hitherto roistering Maria, Sir Toby, and Sir Andrew, have become painfully aware of the ephemeral nature of life.

Imogen Stubbs is a delightful (and plausibly male) Viola, disguised as Cesario, who must act as a go-between for Orsino (an incredibly handsome Toby Stephens) and Olivia (Helena Bonham-Carter, who looks as if she has stepped out of a pre-Raphaelite painting). The scenes between Viola and Orsino, as she is falling in love with him and he is most definitely attracted to his young "man" and emissary, are fraught with a palpable sexual tension (A similar dynamic may well have been present in the original production when the audience knew that a boy was playing the part of a girl playing the part of a boy. Trevor Nunn conveys the ambiguity of gender with subtle artistry). Viola and her twin brother Sebastian look reasonably enough alike so that the audience can easily suspend its disbelief and, along with the characters, enjoy the confusion of "Which one is Sebastian?."

The production is reinforced by an ensemble cast.
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