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Macbeth (1983) (BBC) (DVD)

Nicol Williamson , Jane Lapotaire    Parental Guidance   DVD
2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: 9.48 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Macbeth (1983) (BBC) (DVD) + William Shakespeare's Macbeth [1978] [DVD] + Macbeth [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Nicol Williamson, Jane Lapotaire, Tony Doyle
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: BBC
  • Run Time: 146 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KPGF4A
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,490 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


First, Nicol Williamson, though he fails to make this Macbeth work completely, is always interesting; probably, this is due to his intelligence. One can always see what he is getting at, even when he fails to get there or when we disagree with his interpretation (and I disagree with much of this one -- especially the "Tomorrow and tomorrow" sequence). The gradual shift from a heroic, conscience-concerned warrior to a cold-blooded and ruthless tyrant is clear if not always heartfelt. Second, most of the text is clear and unadulterated (some minor changes, including the happy cutting of the Hecuba scenes, which are not by Shakespeare anyway, actually help move the play along). The cast and director have worked so carefully to illuminate the text, characters, and situations that this particular version might be the best choice for school use. Finally, Jane Lapotaire gives a brilliant tour-de-force performance as Lady Macbeth. For one thing, she is sexy, which apparently some reviewers seem to find objectionable, but which is quite accurate for Lady M. Why else would she have to call on the powers of evil to "unsex" her? Also, she is clearly in love with her husband and not with her own ambitions. It is imperative in any production of Macbeth that the marriage is based in love and devotion; otherwise, the tragedy is lost! When this Lady Macbeth tries to calm her manic husband during the banquet scene, we can feel her anguish over the loss of their former relationship (and her part in causing it), anguish that easily turns to madness the next time we see her. The sleepwalking scene is beautifully built by re-living not only the text, but the actions of the Act 2 murder of King Duncan and its effects on the Macbeths. Lapotaire is one of the great post WWII actresses, trained in the great British tradition, and her presence in this production makes the viewing worthwhile in itself.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent performance 24 Mar 2005
By Dorie
I own several on screen versions of Macbeth, including the RSC version with Ian McKellen and Judi Dench, the 2001 RSC version directed by Gregory Doran, and the Roman Polanski cinematic version, so I believe I can safely say that the BBC Macbeth is the one I was most impressed with. Both Nicol Williamson and Jane Lapotaire give impressive performances. Williamson manages to realistically portray Macbeth as a terrified man, and Lapotaire is perfect as Lady Macbeth. This film explores the psychological dimension of the play to a much greater extent than other filmed versions, which emphasize the political. Here, the director delves into the protagonist's mind, and the result is tremendous.
There are many memorable moments in this film, such as Nicol Williamson wringing his hands behind his back as he knows his deed is about to be discovered, Jane Lapotaire with bloody hands pushing her husband towards the bedroom, or the terror in Lady Macduff's eyes as her child is slaughtered.
I also liked the lighting effects at the opening of the play, especially the use of colours for the sky.
I highly recommend this Macbeth to all those who truly appreciate Shakespeare.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Scottish Play 5 May 2011
In spite of the play (which I think is neither Shakespeare's best-constructed, nor his most convincingly written) and in spite of the sets (which look cheap and do not altogether complement the action), I found that I very much enjoyed this particular production.

I suspect - although I do not know - that the director was more familiar with the theatre than with film or television, because the use of the camera did not strike me as being particularly good. Apart, that is, from the speeches which are delivered directly to it. On the whole, I thought they worked well. Also, the lighting is frequently too harsh for the production, but what makes the play fun is the intensity with which Nicol Williams as Macbeth, and Jane Lapotaire as Lady Macbeth, throw themselves into their roles. The acting amongst the other players is variable - some good, some not so good - but the intensity of the two central perfomances carries you through the play and makes it well worth watching.

Aside from the "Subtitles" and "Scene Selection" options, the DVD has no extras.
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31 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Good play, but... 28 Nov 2004
By A Customer
I have been a great fan of Shakespeare's plays for some time now, in particular Hamlet and Macbeth, so I decided to rent this out from the video library and give it a try. Jane Lapotaire's performance is OK, and there are some good supporting performances, but Nicol Williamson is so bad! His melodramatic performance of the 'Is this a dagger?' soliloquy was hilariously bad, and I was mortified to watch him slaughtering the 'To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow' speech with his slow, roaring delivery - "To .... mo .... rrrrow; aaaaaaaaaaaaaand to .... mo .... rrrrow" etc. There's got to be a better filmed version of this play out there. Don't get this.
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9 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for actors! 15 Mar 2006
Having remembered this version of Macbeth from school, I thought I'd have another look at it to help me in my studies of Shakespeare (as a university drama student). However, it seems my memory had played tricks on me. To be fair, I only watched the 1st half hour of the film before giving up on it, so it may have picked up later, but I gave up on it because of the appalling acting. Every thing is so over the top that it grates. Although Jane Lapotaire does an interesting interpretation of the 'come, you spirits' speech, she may as well have a sign saying 'I Am Acting' written above her. Nicol Williamson can't even claim that. And of course, being an obvious low budget film, the costume, camera work and scenery are nothing to rave about. All in all, I can find nothing that I could recommend about this film, especially not to drama students.
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