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An Age of Kings [DVD]

Sean Connery , Judi Dench , Michael Hayes    Exempt   DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
Price: 37.02 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

An Age of Kings [DVD] + Shakespeare: Richard II [David Tennant] [RSC] [DVD] [2014] [NTSC] + Shakespeare: Twelfth Night (Globe on Screen) [DVD] [2013] [NTSC]
Price For All Three: 64.69

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Product details

  • Actors: Sean Connery, Judi Dench, Robert Hardy, Tony Garnett, Brian Glover
  • Directors: Michael Hayes
  • Producers: Peter Dews
  • Format: Box set, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Illuminations
  • DVD Release Date: 26 Nov 2013
  • Run Time: 960 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00FLR6L9Q
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 25,898 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

An Age of Kings is BBC Television's compelling production of William Shakespeare s great national pageant of eight History plays. Back in 1960 the series marked a significant television moment when its fifteen live episodes were broadcast fortnightly on Thursday evenings throughout the summer and autumn. Each play from Richard II to Richard III was allotted two episodes, roughly an hour in length, excepting only Henry VI part 1 which was cut back to a single programme. The critic for The Guardian praised this tremendous project and hailed it as ambitious ... exciting ... a striking example of the creative use of television'. The episodes were regularly watched by more than three million viewers. But in making An Age of Kings, the BBC was not principally in the hunt for ratings. Rather, this was Britain s public service broadcaster demonstrating to and for the nation its unique strengths and abilities. Even so, An Age of Kings was repeated by the BBC only once, between January and April 1962. For more than fifty years this television landmark has been entirely unavailable in Britain. Watching it today, although certain allowances need to be made for its 405-line monochrome images, the drama of power politics, betrayals, deceptions and deadly rivalries is as alive as ever. So too is the beauty of some of Shakespeare's greatest poetry and prose. An Age of Kings is distinguished by a rigorous approach to the text, by Michael Hayes frequently inventive direction and by numerous performances of the highest achievement. Here are Frank Pettingell and Angela Baddeley at a late stage in their successful stage and film careers, alongside Robert Hardy, Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench and Sean Connery, among many others, at the beginning of theirs. An Age of Kings was the first production in Britain, whether in the theatre or on the screen, of all eight Histories as a coherent single story. Its production remains the only occasion when a single company and production team has taken on all of the plays for television. More than five decades after it was first seen, the series is a vivid and vibrant drama, with an unparalleled clarity and immediacy, sense of scale and poetic depth. The Making of An Age of Kings features an interview with Tony Garnett filmed at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith where the series was originally broadcast live. He speaks about his experiences of being involved in such a ground-breaking project and of the technical challenges encountered in producing one of the most ambitious Shakespeare projects ever filmed. Screen Plays is a series of prestige DVD releases of major BBC productions of classic theatre plays, starring leading actors of the past fifty years. Each DVD release offers the best-available archive materials complemented with video interviews together with a booklet giving background information and critical writing. An Age of Kings is the first title in the Screen Plays series.

Product Description

One of the most ambitious Shakespeare projects ever filmed, BBC Television's compelling fifteen episode production of eight history plays has been unavailable in Britain for more than fifty years. Distinguished by many outstanding performances, including Robert Hardy, Judi Dench and Eileen Atkins, An Age of Kings is vivid and vibrant drama with a sweeping sense of scale and unparalleled clarity. This five disc set also features The Making of An Age of Kings, and includes a twenty four page booklet with critical writing about the production and background information. Total running time 960 mins Illuminations DVD PAL Format, region 2

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WELCOME BACK! 18 Dec 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I was rather nervous about revisiting this as I carry vivid memories of it from my youth. And yes, even at the time we knew the battle and crowd scenes were underpopulated and unconvincing - and they are. And yes, it's in black and white and recorded live in studio which leads to limited camera angles and static shots. But fifty years on the central performances are so good and the intelligence and clarity of the verse speaking so impressive that most of the time it really doesn't matter. Not surprisingly the reissue singles out the performances by actors whose names bring recognition and they are good, particularly Sean Connery. Is this his only Shakespearean role? But Mary Morris as Margaret is every bit as commanding and powerful as I remember and Paul Daneman's witty and sinister Richard, relishing his confidences to camera, is also hugely impressive. And I hadn't fully appreciated the quality of Terry Scully's haunted and haunting Henry VI. But this is an ensemble company cast in depth and if you're hesitating, I urge you to take the plunge and give it a try.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Age of Kings 2 Feb 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I have been waiting since 1960 to see this superb groundbreaking production again and have never.undestood why the BBC kept it locked in a cupboard while showing 'Porridge' and suchlike regularly. Now, at 86, I am absolutely delighted to see and hear and enjoy the great performances of the young Judi Dench, Robert Hardy, Eileen Atkins and the then unknown Sean Connery, as well as a host of others, Tom Fleming, William Squire,Frank Pettingell, David William, I could go on. Despite its age and the lack of colour it is surprisingly very watchable and, important to me, has excellent subtitles. 'illuminations' have made a first class job of reissuing this most neglected masterpiece, truly regarded as a broadcasting landmark.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars straight shakespeare 9 Feb 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
great sound and subtitles. Clear speaking and obviously no modern interpretation or distracting visual arty stuff. Really great for what it isn't. I have watched most Shakespeare videos and these are the best for me. Obviously in black and white and perhaps too many cuts. Well worth the money as I will watch more than once.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Here was a royal fellowship......" 20 Mar 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Indeed there was. I last saw these programmes over 50 years ago and suspect that, for many of us, they were our introduction to the Bard's take on English history from the closing years of Richard II to the death of Richard III. Transmitted live, in black and white, on 405 lines and using studio sets, these plays nevertheless set high standards in every respect. Unlike the much later Beeb effort, these over-mighty subjects wear proper armour, not leather and the heraldry here is superb. It must have been a glorious sight in colour. The Beeb was quite ruthless in editing the Bard's text but it tightens up the action and maintains the pace of the various plots as royal cousins fought and murdered for the English crown (and rival families took the opportunity to settle their own old scores). It is a joy to see so many fine actors including a young Robert Hardy and Judi Dench. And who can forget Paul Daneman's Richard of Gloucester? This set is a gem without flaw. Cannot be recommended highly enough.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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I was amazed when i saw that this excellent series had been released on dvd. I saw it as a teenager in the early 1960s and thoroughly enjoyed it. To see so many future stars in their early careers added to the enjoyment, For the young I would have to say that they may be put off because it was made in black and white but it is still an excellent example of Shakesperian acting at it's best.
I would recommend it to anyone,
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still superb after all these years 26 Jun 2014
By Ernie
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This was the TV series which first turned me on to Shakespeare after a grammar school education had failed miserably in that respect. I came to the DVD afraid that it might have aged badly, but it was every bit as good as I remember and much better than the recent TV productions which unwisely opened the plays out with technicolour external locations. Here, the monochrome and the budget sets made one focus on the words and the faces, which served to enhance the experience. The occasional outbreak of RADA vowels seemed appropriate for royalty.
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