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Will Shakespeare (2008)

Tim Curry , Mark Cullingham , Robert Knights  |  Unrated |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Tim Curry
  • Directors: Mark Cullingham, Robert Knights
  • 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: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: A&E HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: December 16, 2008
  • Run Time: 303 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000A2VNEU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,601 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Will Shakespeare" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Emmy Award-winner Tim Curry (The Hunt for Red October, Clue) and Golden Globe-winner Ian McShane (Deadwood, Sexy Beast) star in the riveting story about the great Bard's rise to fame.

Set in the sixteenth century, WILL SHAKESPEARE begins with the lesser known story of Shakespeare's humble beginnings and youthful obscurity in Avon. As he struggles to survive as a playwright, Shakespeare faces multiple obstacles, including the black plague and various personal tragedies, but defeats all obstacles to achieve unprecedented success in London.

Written by John Mortimer (Rumpole of the Bailey, Tea with Mussolini), this engrossing six-part miniseries renders the sights and sounds of Elizabethan England in exquisite detail. Rich in both tragedy and deliciously cheeky humor, this series moves through Shakespeare's untold story with dramatic flair.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Will becomes the Bard September 21, 2010
For this 1978 miniseries, writer John Mortimer fashioned a dramatic biography of Shakespeare's time in London. So little factual evidence is available, that I suppose Mortimer can be forgiven for inventing some romantic, sometimes swashbuckling, fiction. If you're expecting something polished and modern, this DVD is not for you, its 1970's production values sadly in evidence. Actually, this presentation comes across as more of a stage play than a movie, but since WS made his living as a playwright, that struck me as more than fitting. Tim Curry did a creditable job with Will, as did Nicholas Clay with his Earl of Southampton and Ian McShane as Kit Marlowe. (It's a treat to see the youthfulness of the actors, many of whom are now playing the older men that they've become.) Fiction it may be, but Mortimer came up with a plausible picture of the relationship between Shakespeare and Southampton, as well as his muse in the dark lady sonnets. It's also satisfying to see WS in his role as father. But where this production shines brightest is in its depiction of life in Elizabethan London - the costumes and sets, the ever present threat of disease, the gap between peasant and aristocrat, and, above all, the smells and sounds of the city and its people. Almost as good as a time machine; better, perhaps, because we needn't fear the plague!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For die-hard lovers of Shakespeare and/or Tim Curry February 13, 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This 5-hour-and-change miniseries is proof positive, as if any were needed, that Tim Curry is one of the greatest actors alive. His presence alone elevates this single-camera biopic from complete mediocrity to something approaching supreme quality.

Most of the series is strangely cast and over-acted, but Tim Curry's portrayal of Shakespeare is effortless, nuanced, and bubbling with precarious undercurrents of sadness, frustration, and the inevitable tortured confusion that is to be expected of an artist like William Shakespeare. It is well worth trudging through the few scenes which do not prominently feature Curry to see him play his part with such mastery.

Elizabethan aficionados will be delighted with the costumes, which seem richly and accurately imagined and gorgeously executed. It's a shame, however, given the excellence of the costumes, the ambiance of the natural lighting, the beautiful sets and Tim's perfect performance, that the single-camera format somewhat cheapens the aesthetic.

This DVD is a must-have for any Tim Curry fan or those who love all things Shakespeare. Those outside those two demographics will probably not enjoy it. I, however, did, very much. 4 out 5 stars, mostly on the strength of Tim Curry's performance.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable speculative biopic December 27, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I too had modest expectations, but we enjoyed this miniseries quite a lot. Well, of course no one really knows details of Shakespeare's life, but it's at least plausible, and does a nice job of putting the man in historical and cultural context. As noted in other reviews, the theater lore is fun as well. It's a bit episodic, true; well, it's a TV thing in six episodes.

Down side: ghastly blaring music. Also: no subtitles, which I need when negotiating those Brit accents. Especially with the damned music competing at 95 decibels.

As a moderately-severe sucker for Shakesperiana, I say try it. It's not dreadfully expensive.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A clever, plausible, imaginary life of Shakespeare June 21, 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The only serious complaint I have about this series is that it was shot on video rather than on 35mm film, or even on 16mm film. For heaven's sake why? They obviously invested a lot in the wonderful period costumes and sets, so why did the producers not go whole hog and splurge for film?

Tim Curry as Shakespeare is spot on. Much better than (the very good) Joseph Fiennes is in "Shakespeare in Love". He's witty, human, clever, and realistic. He does NOT overact as he is usually very well paid to do; Curry takes this role very seriously. Many of the supporting cast are Shakesperian actors, and it shows.

The sets and costume are appropriately dirty and grubby and they reek of authenticity. When Shakespeare arrives in London penniless and still young, he rides in the back of a hay cart and straws remain in his hair for a little while. The inns are dark and smoky, no one has enough time or water to wash, and yet the atmosphere is lively and thick with fun.

John Mortimer, a lawyer famous in TV for creating the erudite eccentric Horace Rumpole, delivers a first rate script with a very plausible story. We do know a lot about Shakespeare, much more in fact than we do about most commoners of the time. There are many gaps, things we'll never really know about him and Mortimer fills them in inventively without ever making outlandish conjectures.

If you can get by the video and the production values of the 1970s, you'll enjoy a funny, witty, thoughtful TV series. Recommended!

Vincent Poirier, Tokyo
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating April 15, 2012
For years, I've tried to read Shakespeare without much success. But being the greatest writer in the English language, he obviously was a fascinating character. I don't like the over-projecting style of theatrical plays as this is played. At first, I was like, eh. But after the first episode was done. I was hooked. I wanted to know what happened next. I wasn't crazy about the dialogue or some of the characters but there was something about the overall presentation that kept me watching. Part of it was definitely the settings and costumes which were wonderful. I loved the gritty sets.

I can understand why many people wouldn't like this production. If you don't like it by the end of the first episode, it's time to move on to something else.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Bought for my English class
This did not hold my students' interest at all and honestly, we never finished it and I haven't been able to bring myself to view it either! Boring.
Published 9 months ago by Crissy Crosses On Etsy
5.0 out of 5 stars Tim Curry is Great
Anything Tim Curry does is sure to be quality. He "IS" Will Shakespeare. This is worth checking out if you are a Tim Curry and/or Shakespeare fan.
Published 20 months ago by Vicki Shedd
5.0 out of 5 stars finally!
Have been waiting forever for this to come out on DVD. Tim Curry's crowning glory to say the least. This series shows off his shakepearing training and talent to the max. Read more
Published 22 months ago by CurryFan
5.0 out of 5 stars Will Shakespeare
Shakespeare & Tim Curry as the prodigious actor was trained & meant to be seen...what could be better on earth??
Published on October 7, 2012 by Nancy
1.0 out of 5 stars A boring shambles
I thought this would be a good miniseries to show my Shakespeare classes (both high school and adult), and while the scenery, props and costumes give a wonderful feel for... Read more
Published on July 27, 2012 by S. McKinney
3.0 out of 5 stars Acting good, writing awful
I'm a big Tim Curry fan, so it was nice to watch him in all his youthful gorgeousness. That being said, the writing was cliche', heavy-handed, awkward, and embarrassing. Read more
Published on January 16, 2012 by GetReal
5.0 out of 5 stars Hal: Why did you lie to me? Will: To be a little free! (iffyquote)
This is fun! I love the feel of the times as it is conveyed in this film...I love the drama!!!
Shakespeare's Time: From the scenes depicting life as it went on during the... Read more
Published on July 31, 2011 by Trish
3.0 out of 5 stars Floundering...yep, just floundering
One reviewer said the following:

>>"...ambling, misguided, largely fictional account of William Shakespeare's life... Read more
Published on June 16, 2011 by E. Hansen
1.0 out of 5 stars Really Bad!
I have tried watching this movie at least 4 or 5 times. It's a mumble jumble.
It skips from one scene to another and makes me believe a part of the plot was omitted. Read more
Published on March 9, 2011 by Pen Name
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really for use in classroom
I am a Canadian high school teacher; I bought the dvd because I absolutely love Tim Curry. I thought I could incorporate some of this into my unit on Shakespeare. Read more
Published on July 11, 2010 by everydayathena
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