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Prokofiev - Romeo and Juliet / Nureyev, Fonteyn, Royal Ballet

4.4 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This film is the famed Royal Ballet production of Romeo and Juliet. This historical performance stars Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev as the quintessential stage lovers. It captures the greatest dance partnership of our century at the peak of their careers.

Amazon.com

It's not a stretch to call Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn the most sublime of all dance partners and Sergei Prokofiev the most gifted 20th-century ballet composer. And so it goes without saying that the 1966 film version of the Royal Ballet production of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet featuring Nureyev and Fonteyn as the star-crossed lovers is an absolute must-have for anyone who cares a whit about the art. Director Paul Czinner has made all the right moves, alternating between full shots of the performers with long shots that accentuate how Kenneth MacMillan's fastidious choreography is inexorably linked to the characters, their story, the elaborate sets, and the viewer. Nicholas Georgiadis's costumes are sumptuous without being overdone, the supporting dancers and ensemble are as exquisite as the leads, and John Lanchbery conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House with just the right mixture of joviality and tragedy that Prokofiev's classic score needs but doesn't always receive. --Kevin Filipski

Special Features

  • Ballet synopsis
  • History of Prokofiev's music
  • Biographies of Rudolf Nureyev, Margot Fonteyn, and Sergei Prokofiev

Product Details

  • Actors: Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev, David Blair, Desmond Doyle, Julia Farron
  • Directors: Paul Czinner
  • Writers: William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Paul Czinner
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Classical, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Kultur Video
  • DVD Release Date: November 30, 1999
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003M5GE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #41,517 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Prokofiev - Romeo and Juliet / Nureyev, Fonteyn, Royal Ballet" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
Tonight I watched Romeo and Juliet again, this time with two of my granddaughters. I have seen it with my parents, with my wife and three children, and now with my grandchildren. I attended the movie in Washington, in Boston, and in Albany, NY many years ago. This version has become part of my life, as have its stars, Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn. Why I have not reviewed it before, I do not know.

This Royal Ballet version of Romeo and Juliet is so fine, so spectacular, so moving, and so incrediblly beautiful that in my opinion there is no other ballet that can compare with it. First there is the poignantly tragic love story of Shakespeare. Add to it the hauntingly expressive, classic-yet-modern music of Prokofiev. Stir in Kenneth MacMillan's sensitive and exuberant choreography. And as the supreme touch, have it danced by the most exhilarating male dancer who every performed, in partnership with the most delicate and vulnerable ballernina of the past century. Here you have the masterpiece of all masterpieces. A ballet that puts other ballets to shame with their weak plots and lack of emotional substance.

My two favorite scenes are the balcony scene, and the scene where Romeo dances with a lifeless Juliet. The first exudes love and passion, as Nureyev and Fonteyn are transported by their new-found love to a height beyond all measure. In the second, your heart freezes and you strain to hold back tears as Romeo tries to coax the life back into Juliet by dancing with her limp but still graceful form. There are no touchingly valid moments such as these in any other ballet I have seen.

The superb costumes are worthy of a Zefferelli production, although this is not one, of course. The scenery is adequate but not impressive.
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Format: DVD
First, it should be said that every time Fonteyn and Nureyev danced together, there was a chemistry that transcended the choreography. Even with Fonteyn at the close of her amazing career in this production, those qualities of interpretation and connection shine through. Nureyev's dancing is solid, but as with many MacMillan ballets, he spends much time as a display pedestal for his partner. However, when Fonteyn, especially, is on screen, it is impossible to tear your eyes away: she truly was one of the most charismatic dancers of the last century.
That said, I must confess to a great deal of frustration with this DVD. There was no effort made to re-master, as far as I can see. Also, as becomes obvious from the intro titles (with the edges chopped off), the coversion from PAL to NTSC was done haphazardly at best. In some scenes, dancers are partially cut-off from view, in others the frame speeds result in an almost jerky quality.
Czinner, like many others in the past, tried very hard to turn the ballet production into a movie production, and fails miserably at times. Close-ups are filmed when MacMillan's spectacular corps choreography is occurring, so you miss some wonderful dancing. Often, the effort to capture "drama" for the movie screen ends up detracting terribly. One day, somebody will figure out that the best way to film ballet is to simply plop your camera in the best seat in the house with a wide angle lens and let it run.
Would I purchase this again? Certainly. As a bit of history it has great value. However, I see no reason to spend the extra money on the DVD version -- it's no better than film, and the "extras" are nothing that you couldn't find elsewhere, and in a better format ("I am a Dancer", the VHS with Nureyev, comes to mind.) So save your DVD dollars and go for tape on this one.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
According to the screen credits, this was made for film. Thankfully it does not go off on some filmitization experiment. Actually they might have been too conservative for everyone's liking since it looks exactly like a stage production, only with film like camera work. A greater number of people can comment on the ballet itself since it has been on VHS for some time. I will confine my comments mostly to issues with its reproduction.
I agree with the Chicago person's comment that the quality of the transfer is not the best, and will go much further. Despite my criticisms, I hope everyone will keep in mind that I would recommend this as a great DVD to own.
Unfortunately this DVD was not transferred from the film, but from a video of the film. This means that you will see scan lines and other video artefacts. Either because of this or poor DVD compression, the picture sharpness is muddy, and trails of movement are visible as on the Swan Lake DVD. Other problems that would be easy to restore are inconsistencies between exposures on the frames and frame shake (revealed by static objects appearing to vibrate). Hopefully, the next release will be digitally remastered directly from film with better quality compression, and digital remastering of the audio track to DTS. A plus would be if they restored the film print by removing the dust and scratches.
DVD features were not entirely ignored, but could be significantly improved:
"Chapter" Indexing: 18 points in the ballet can be accessed. This is much too few. Not just the scenes, but each particular dance should be indexed as with Kultur's Swan Lake DVD.
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