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Antony and Cleopatra

3.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Richard Johnson, Patrick Stewart, Janet Suzman. Two of history's most famous lovers are caught between their consummate passion for each other and the struggles for power among rulers of the Roman world. 1974/color/161 min/NR/fullscreen.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Richard Johnson, Janet Suzman, Rosemary McHale, Mavis Taylor Blake, Darien Angadi
  • Directors: Jon Scoffield
  • Writers: William Shakespeare
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Unrated
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: June 22, 2004
  • Run Time: 161 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002235QM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #98,126 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Antony and Cleopatra" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Fetler on May 27, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Directors of "Antony and Cleopatra" must decide what story to tell. Should it be the geopolitical conflict between East and West, the refined culture, hedonism and mysticism of Egypt versus the stern militarism and morality of Rome (and its Judeo-Christian legacy)? Or, should it be a tragi-comic near-melodramatic story of great lovers torn apart by war and their human frailty, but finally united in death? Or, should it be a chilling power struggle, stuffed with machiavellian deceit, betrayal and murder? Trevor Nunn's Royal Shakespeare Company production succeeds in telling all three stories, remains faithful to Shakespeare, and provides entertainment that is easy for contemporary audiences to enjoy. Given Nunn's success with this play and others, why are so few RSC productions of Shakespeare available in the United States?

Nunn elegantly portrays the difference between Rome and Alexandria. Rome is presented as if in a bare, large, air-conditioned, brightly lit room. The background is pure white. Caesar and the Romans look clear eyed and freshly showered, shaved, with hair cut short and neatly combed, wearing pure white robes, so unwrinkled they might have been starched. Everything is simple and transparent, there is right and wrong, good and evil, truth and falsehood, and one's duty is to do right. That is, one's duty is to faithfully serve Octavius Caesar.

In Egypt nothing is pure or simple. The air feels thick and objects appear hazy, as if seen through a fine gauze. Intimate rooms glow warmly with gold, silken-satin colored fabrics, richly embroidered tapestries, and immense luxuriously upholstered cushions. Ancient flutes and harps provide music, the moody food of love.
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This is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. I doubt many people make that statement, but since my first reading of it at age 18, I hold it very close to my mind and heart. It is not as cerebral as CORIOLANUS, but compared to his earlier tragedies, cerebral does describe much of its impact. It's as if Shakespeare was continuing his mode in TROILUS AND CRESSIDA of casting a cold eye and analyzing his characters. dissecting them really. However, the language of this plays raises it to the empyrean. It is simply one of the most incandescent expressions of the English language in all of its history. I mean that!! By downplaying spectacle, and using simplified sets, Trevor Nunn allows the actors to shine and the language to glow. The two principals inhabit their roles with grace, power and, yes, charm. Janet Suzman, alone in Act V after Antony's death, rises to greatness as Shakespeare intended. Her suicide is tragically redemptive as he surely intended. This is Shakespeare's mature take on romantic love, and he treads a thin wire of both revealing their degradation and celebrating their passion. The actors are very skilled at making us feel both responses to this love affair are justified. Cleopatra keeps testing Antony's love which he keeps proving again and again - to his destruction. When Richard Johnson recites the line, (SHE) BEGUILED ME TO THE VERY HEART OF LOSS, it is heart-breaking. It is one of Shakespeare's most passionate moments.
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It was filmed for TV and is a bit lacking in visual quality but very much worth seeing for the performances - I enjoyed seeing a young Ben Kingsley in a minor role - also Patrick Stewart was very good - sad and funny. The cuts to the play were not very deep for me - it does run 2 hours, 40 min.
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By D. Huston on February 6, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The acting is beyond superb. Ms. Suzman IS Cleopata. My only complaint is the directing. This DVD consists of 90% talking heads. The close up lens for the camera was obviously the only one available. The play is done on a stage, but it is almost never seen. Way too too much facial.
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This, the Royal Shakespeare Company production of a little viewed play, was produced in the early to mid 70s. It boasts of flashes of brilliance. Richard Johnson's performance is at times inspired. It features a very young Patrick Stewart as Enobarbus, in a very strong role. The production is set in a very minimalist fashion, which provides a very good effect overall. However these very real moments of brilliance marred by the more than frequent instances of overacting. Janet Suzman as Cleopatra in particular is guilty of screaming and wailing where a more subdued rendering of the anguish she undoubtedly felt would have sufficed. Other supporting players are also complicit in the all-too-frequent over-the-top acting. Even Johnson takes it a bit too far at times. This version should definitely be sought after and viewed, because there is another aspect from which the producers can take heart: It is better than the version with Charlton Heston!
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Being a TV version of a famous RSC production, this is indeed (mainly) an excellent version of the play, with the actors well into their roles by means of stage experience. However, there's a major flaw: presumably to render the length palatable for TV audiences in the late '60s, the performance cuts out the important Sextus Pompey subplot. If this role (and that of his pirate allies) is excised, we lose some crucial political, military and historical detail which enrich the play and the characters of both Antony and Octavius. Check out the text for details, and you will see what I mean. So, loss of a star (and I nearly made it two) for such thoughtless interference! My first choice must be with the BBC Shakespeare version, beautifully and thoughtfully directed by Jonathan Miller, with Jane Lapotaire and Colin Blakely both first-class. The RSC version remains a wonderful -if irritatingly incomplete- second choice.
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