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Reviewed in the United States on February 24, 2018
If you are a Shakespeare fanatic the price of the DVD is definitely worth it. Especially to see Dames Judy Dench and Diana RIgg in their youthful prime. Ian Richardson and Ian Holm's performances are excellent and Paul Rogers as Bottom is amazing despite wearing a donkey's head through half the film! Yes, the quality of the original film stock is pretty bad, especially in the beginning - I'm surprised no one has found original film elements in better shape since 1968 - but I'm guessing this was originally a production for BBC television and knowing how they either chucked out or recorded over other productions from that era (Dr. Who for instance) I'm not surprised. Everyone's performance is dynamic, the pacing is perfect and Shakespeare's English bubbles and flows at you like a thrilling raft ride. For me it's a time-machine joyride into Shakespeare and the British scene of the 1960's.
Most actors and actresses in this film went on to major acting careers. Ian Richardson's Oberon is as much a joy as is Judy Dench's Titania. The big surprise to me in this film was that Paul Rogers as Bottom (who is turned into a donkey) is the best I've ever seen. Unbelievable: Not just funny, but sweet and charming. His use of his eyes through the donkey's mask is a study in how to use one's human assets. Ian Holm's Puck makes terrific use of very rapid speech combined with the simple special effects used: Totally unexpected as he became a world-known serious actor. I simply love this production.
When this was broadcast I had a BW television set, no cable (had not yet been invented), and a very fuzzy picture. Even then Ms.Dench's costume drew my attention.
Several years ago I bought a VHS copy of this, and unfortunately, it was a long blur.
This current DVD issue is reasonably sharp, and the production is still good. I was at a Shakespeare Festival production of Midsummer Night's Dream a few weeks ago, which was very good, which had Titania more modestly clothed.
The production and acting is commendable, and for the fans of Shakespeare, I highly recommend. It holds up very well, even after 47 years.
Yes, the quality is poor, but as an English teacher, who has watched almost every available video version in the past three weeks, this was the most faithful representation by far! I can't show it in class, but there is nothing more satisfying than seeing young Dame Judy brazen and lovely enough to pull off a nude Titania and seeing the lovely, elegant woman she is now. This is also the only version I have seen, so far, that portrays Hippolyta as the strong, amazon she is supposed to be! Hurrah for the brits, who don't have any problem keeping the complexity of the relationship between Theseus and Hippolyta! The trappings of the sixties just made it more of a romp! I would really rent this, the quality is absolutely terrible. I am sure I have caught snippets of a much better copy on television at some point, if I had known what a must see it was, I would have recorded it then. Rent it, watch it, love it for its kookiness and know that the Bard would have really appreciated it!
this is a joy to watch....granted the filming and reproduction is not up to today's quality, you really have to admire this cast. It's a" Who's Who" . I really felt for the young lovers ( actors ) who end up looking as if they had been in a mud fight. Wouldn't want to hike in those Grecian woods. But would have loved to have run into Judi Dench as Titania...dressed as a wood nymph should be dressed. Seller was very prompt and packaged this treasure safely.
This simply stellar cast more than compensates for the quality of this dvd. Those who wanted glossy special effects and modern visual quality should not have bought a 1968 production. This Royal Shakespeare Company performance almost resembles a stage play which, for me, is the best way to see the Bard's works. I've seen other versions of this hilarious comedy but this is my favourite.
This 60's production features numerous classically-trained actresses and actors in their youth, especially Judi Dench and Helen Mirren, among others. The film quality is a bit marred: unsure why perhaps, the fact the techniques being used to imply "vanishing images" was in it's development stage? Otherwise, a faithful rendition of the author's work and humor to boot.
We ordered this DVD to watch before seeing Midsummer Night's Dream in person. My husband likes to read the subtitles so he can catch the words since English was not his first language. Unfortunately this film was quite old and did not have subtitles and it had not been updated in any way. It did have an interesting cast with the young Judy Dench and Helen Mirren. Would recommend to Shakespeare affectionatos.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 23, 2013
This is a filmed record of a wonderful RSC Stratford production of 1968 with most of the original cast from a few years earlier. Sadly, there is no Charles Laughton to reprise his outstanding Bottom (no pun intended but understood anyway) of the original Hall production, but Paul Rogers does very well of course. But come see Warner, Dench, Mirren, Rigg, Jayston, Ian Richardson, Bill Travers and all have a magical time. As a movie it is rough but the stage production is there, so who cares? This is history before your very eyes as well as great fun.
The budget for this production of Shakespeare's classic probably explains the film's quality. At least the DVD will halt further deterioration of the picture, but the editing and special effects will always be horrendous! So, why did I enjoy (and recommend) this film? It is a sixties creation in all that decade's glory! There is a youthful, naively-sophisticated, hip attitude that is pure 60's! Mary Quant seems to have influenced the fashion of ancient Athens. I half expected the British (music) invasion to replace Pyramus and Thisbe at the end. But, the acting and (not surprisingly) the writing save the day. If you're expecting Helen Mirren to dazzle, sorry, wrong decade. Fortunately, Judi Dench and Diana Rigg nail their roles. It's always been about the words after all, and I enjoyed listening to this performance as much as watching it.
I bought this dvd to replace an old VHS recording I made from TV 15 years ago and later transfered to DVD. I will stick with the VHS recording. There is no excuse for such bad a DVD release if I have a better recording from TV 15 years ago!