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Twelfth Night (1996)

Helena Bonham Carter , Richard E. Grant , Trevor Nunn  |  PG |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (188 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: Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: August 30, 2005
  • Run Time: 134 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (188 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0009VNBKG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,016 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Twelfth Night" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

A once-in-a-lifetime cast shines in this hilarious version of the beloved Shakespeare comedy! When a shipwreck separates siblings Viola and Sebastian in a foreign land, each thinks the other is dead, and both embark on a series of romantic misadventures involving deception, cross-dressing, dashing counts, obese alcoholics and a perceptive fool who presides over the entire madcap affair. A delight from start to finish, this dazzling treat is British comedy at its best!

When a shipwreck separates siblings Viola and Sebastian in a foreign land, both think the other is dead and embarks on a series of romantic misadventures.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
143 of 148 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
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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115 of 119 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
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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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Present mirth hath present laughter....... July 7, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
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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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laughter, Tears, and the Rain, it Raineth Every Day! 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 day ago by Rosemary A. Lemoine
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Superb acting and directing.
Published 24 days ago by Erasmus
2.0 out of 5 stars Not U.S. Playable
I had to return this item because it wasn't suited to play in U.S. DVD players. I contacted the seller, who was really great about responding to me really quickly, and offering a... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Yummy Bush
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderful adaption of Shakespeare's fun play. Ben Kingsley is especially great as The Fool.
Published 1 month ago by Jackie
5.0 out of 5 stars Laughs, Loves, and Shakespeare
I still throw this movie in for an enjoyable evening with laughs and loves. Would love to see it actually preformed on stage somewhere.
Published 1 month ago by Alicia Seefeldt
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
I have seen this one done before, but this is the perfect cast and presentation. The plot twists that make this screwball comedy work so well come into play so well.
Published 2 months ago by Oelwein, IA
1.0 out of 5 stars Korean Subtitles and AWFUL sound quality.
It's hard enough to get the rhythm of Shakepeare down sometimes. When you're constantly getting distracted by Korean subtitles and can't even understand a word they are saying... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Eclectic One
5.0 out of 5 stars perfect!
I was searching for this version of "Twelfth Night" because it is perfect for keeping the attention of my 7th grade students. Read more
Published 3 months ago by MustangLady2005
4.0 out of 5 stars Overdone production
I'd guess the more you love the play the less you'll like this. It's one of my favorites: the poignancy of Viola's hidden love, the shrewd satire of Olivia's self-indulgent... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Shaycoo
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Service!
This DVD came promptly, worked in my player (took a gamble on the area) and was brand new - wrapping on it still. Great service and quality.
Published 4 months ago by Hannah Taylor
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