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All's Well That Ends Well - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1981]

Ian Charleson , Angela Down , Elijah Moshinsky    Universal, suitable for all   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: 8.09 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

All's Well That Ends Well - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1981] + Two Gentlemen of Verona: BBC Shakespeare Collection (1983) DVD + BBC Shakespeare Collection - Love's Labour's Lost (1985) (DVD)
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Product details

  • Actors: Ian Charleson, Angela Down, Celia Johnson, Michael Hordern, Donald Sinden
  • Directors: Elijah Moshinsky
  • Format: PAL, Colour, Full Screen, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: DDHE/SIMPLY - under license from BBC Worldwide
  • Run Time: 142 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000V6R0L0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 40,671 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

In 1978, the BBC set itself the task of filming all of William Shakespeare's plays for television. The resulting productions, renowned for their loyalty to the text, utilised the best theatrical and television directors and brought highly praised performances from leading contemporary actors - ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL [1981] When Helena administers a cure to the gravely ill King of France, he offers her a choice of husband. Helena chooses Betram, the Count of Rousillon. He insists that he will never be her 'true' husband unless she wears his family ring and becomes pregnant with his child. Following him to Florence, Helena embarks upon a plan that will lead her to claim her rightful spouse. 'All's Well That Ends Well' won both BAFTA and RTS Awards and was considered one of the best of the BBC Shakespeare series. Director Elijah Moshinsky was said to have magnificently framed the scenes and highlighted the domestic nature of the play. The cast, particularly Celia Johnson as the Countess and Ian Charleson as an angry, sullen Betram, also received great acclaim.


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 28 Feb 2010
This award-winning BBC production brings life, enormous appeal, and intelligence to a play criminally underperformed. It's a pleasure to watch ... and re-watch .... and re-watch.

Let's start with the fact that the production itself has been hailed far and wide for its beauty and visual precision. Director Elijah Moshinsky patterned it after paintings of Vermeer, and even though this may be unknown to the viewer, it has a remarkable subliminal impact.

Now for the cast:

Angela Down is truly the perfect Helena (the heroine of the play). She looks the part -- comely yet intellectual -- and speaks her lines with the perfect emotional fit. Most importantly, her diction and enunciation, and the speed at which she says the bard's words, make everything she says perfectly understandable and perfectly apt within that emotional fit. The viewer never has to wonder "What did she just say?" or "What does that mean?" Nonetheless the lines are fluid, musical, emotional, and very human. To me, this is the sign of a true Shakespearean actor.

Celia Johnson as the Countess Roussillon (Bertram's mother and Helena's guardian) is equally fantastic. She's a pleasure to watch and listen to. Consummate acting.

Ian Charleson as Bertram, Helena's very reluctant love object, is suitably sullen and morose, yet we see the physical beauty and the inherent charm, nobility, and charisma which attracts Helena to him. Charleson, a very internal actor, never overplays the part. To some extent he sometimes almost underplays it, occasionally speaking softly whilst his compatriots declaim more loudly or forcefully. Yet he holds our attention and fits the role very well.

The supporting cast is almost without exception quite admirable -- some remarkably so. Excellent casting, and a lot of excellent acting.

All in all, a very good production which makes the play easy to understand and enjoy.

Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Version - Wonderful Acting 24 Jan 2011
This is beautifully filmed and brilliantly acted. Angela Down's Helena is good looking but not projecting the sort of obvious cuteness that would no doubt have done more to attract the sullen, callow Betram.
Ian Charleson's Bertram is cold and contemptuous, so that we wince at his treatment of Helena - but we can see what motivated him, when we see him gazing longingly after his friends who are swaggering off to the war, leaving him behind, holding a flask full (apparently) of the King's urine.
When in the last scene, he admits to starting to feel love for Helena since he has lost her, even though he then goes on to be suitably caddish towards Diana, you do feel that he is sincere, as at the end, when he asks her to pardon him. I did like that!
Donald Sinden's King, when he kisses Helena full on the lips,comes across as rather too sexual, but I think that is intentional; Michael Horden and Peter Jeffrey as Parolles and Lafeu are excellent. Celia Johnson's peformance was of course, acclaimed, and I loved Pippa Guard as spirited Diana who had to fight her feeings of attraction in rejecting Bertram's caddish attempts on her.
Excellent. I really recommend it!
LucindaE
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What you get is good, but... 30 Mar 2013
I'd be surprised if more than about 70% of Shakespeare's text actually makes it into this production. Yes, all the praise accorded it in the other reviews here is deserved: the cast is excellent, although I'd like an even more Falstaffian Parolles, if possible, and Celia Johnson and, to a lesser extent, Michael Hordern (or "Horden" as he appears on the DVD cover - even his name has been cut) tend to offer their own paraphrases of the text, rather than Shakespeare's actual words; the production is also highly effective. But the butchery of the text, especially of such an underrated and underperformed work, is hard to forgive. Whole scenes (III.i and III.iii) get chopped, while elsewhere large chunks of dialogue simply disappear, often making nonsense of the verse where two drastically truncated pentameters are run together. So watch it, by all means, but don't try to follow the text, unless you want to spend most of your time lost.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A brief synopsis and history of the work 23 July 2008
When Helena administers a cure to the gravely ill King of France, he offers her a choice of husband. Helena chooses Bertram, the Count of Rousillon. He insists that he will never be her `true' husband unless she wears his family ring and becomes pregnant with his child. Following him to Florence, Helena embarks upon a plan that will lead her to claim her rightful spouse . . .
All's Well That Ends Well won both BAFTA and RTS Awards and was considered one of the best of the BBC Shakespeare series. Director Elijah Moshinsky was said to have magnificently framed the scenes and highlighted the domestic nature of the play. The cast, particularly Celia Johnson as the Countess and Ian Charleson as an angry, sullen Bertram, also received great acclaim.
All's Well That Ends Well first printed in the 1623 Folio, is often paired with `Measure for Measure' Like that play it places it central characters into painful situations quite unlike those usually suffered by the heroes and heroines of his earlier Romantic Comedies . . . Shakespeare based the story of Bertram and Helen on a tale from Boccaccio's `Decameron' but with the invention of several important characters that lend the whole a realism, a mirror on life, as only the Bard seemed able to achieve.
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