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Swan Lake [DVD] [1998]


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Product details

  • Actors: Adam Cooper, Scott Ambler, Fiona Chadwick
  • Directors: Matthew Bourne
  • Format: Classical, Colour, HiFi Sound, Full Screen, PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Italian
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: CLASSICAL
  • DVD Release Date: 20 July 1998
  • Run Time: 117 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CWO8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 65,927 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

A highly acclaimed adaptation of the famous ballet, first show on BBC2 in 1996. Choreographed by Matthew Bourne who turned tradition on its head by casting male swans.,

From Amazon.co.uk

This Swan Lake was the unexpected popular hit of 1996, when radical choreographer Matthew Bourne took Tchaikovsky's traditional ballet by the scruff of the neck and reworked it with a myriad of modern influences and themes to astonishing effect. Seldom have the dark psychological riptides at the heart of so many classical ballets been so brilliantly exposed. The Prince (Scott Ambler) is a wretched and dissolute young man dominated by his mother, the Joan Collins-like Queen (Fiona Ambler). Shades of Tennessee Williams, indeed. Von Rothbart becomes a press secretary, more sinister éminence grise than hissable villain. Most startling of all, The Swan (Adam Cooper) is a muscular, emphatically masculine male.

Bourne has stressed the universality of his interpretation, which proved such a success for his Adventures in Motion Pictures dance company. And indeed this is never an overtly "gay" Swan Lake, although the electricity of the pas de deux at the height of Act 2 delivers a palpably homoerotic charge. Its universal threads--as Bourne suggests, the need to be held and understood is common to us all--are synthesised in the utterly moving conclusion as the Swan cradles the lifeless Prince and raises him to a better place. Swan Lake becomes a human, rather than simply romantic, tragedy.

On the DVD: Swan Lake is presented in full screen 4:3 video format and this version would certainly have benefited from widescreen to show off the dazzling court and night club scenes as well as the lake and the impact of the all-male swan corps de ballet. But the lush Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound serves the rich interpretation of Tchaikovsky's score from The New London Orchestra to handkerchief-wringing effect. Extras include menu-driven resumes and a synopsis. --Piers Ford

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 38 people found the following review helpful By S. Amitay on 5 Aug 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Nothing anyone else will say about it is going to prepare you for this amazing ballet. I just wish I had seen it live! Having the DVD is some consolation, though. No ballet I have ever seen comes close to the emotional intensity this performance evokes: it makes me laugh and it makes me cry (and sometimes both at the same time). Adam Cooper is unparalleled in portraying the subject of a love-starved boy's fantasy; at once ethreal and earthly, at times soaring so high you find yourself holding your breath and at times earth-bound and accessible. His sexy alter-ego is no less compelling to the prince (or the viewer). He simply takes your breath away. It is, without a doubt, one of comtemporary dance's greatest triumphs - a truly inspiring piece.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 4 Jun 2007
Format: DVD
Hold on to your lids, kids, a traditional Swan Lake this is not. Matthew Bourne, probably Britain's greatest contemporary choreographer, has reset the old and great ballet into a tale of British royal satire, repressed sexuality and just plain human longing for comfort and protection. And if you've heard about this version, it is definitely not all male; there are plenty of female dancers around. The Swan Queen, however, is now The Swan King. The corps de ballet who form The Swan King's court, traditionally delicate swan maidens in white tutus, are now bare-chested, muscular male swans with mean, dark-shadowed eyes, twitching heads and hair combed to a dark point down their foreheads. They wear something like feathered leggings from waist to knee.

The traditional Swan Lake story has the young prince encountering an enchanted princess, human by night, a swan by day, who can only have the spell broken by true love. The prince swears his devotion, but is tricked by the sorcerer into thinking another is The Swan Queen. He realizes his mistake, but it's too late. He rushes to the lake, finds The Swan Queen and joins her in death but reunited in love.

In Bourne's version it is Britain in the Fifties. We meet the young prince as a fearful child, dominated by his unfeeling mother, the Queen, and manipulated by the Queen's evil press secretary. The lonely boy finds comfort only by imagining a brave swan who will protect him and look over him. Ten years later the prince still is dominated by his mother, who has scarcely aged. He thinks he loves a young woman who is considered unsuitable by the Queen. She announces she will hold a ball and introduce him to proper candidates. Eventually in a drunken, repressed rage, he finds himself on the shores of a park lake.
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By m mowbray on 7 Mar 2002
Format: DVD
This is a triumph of dance and drama. The whole thing has me mesmerised each time I watch it. It has humour and evokes feelings of sadness and sympathy for the characters. Adam Cooper is superb as the swan and his dance is breath taking, representing perfectly the power and beauty of this wonderful bird. His performance as the evil doppleganger is equally as impressive, as he dirty dances his way into the queens affections. It is always Adam Cooper who is highlighted in these reviews, however Scott Ambler as the prince should not be forgotton. He mixes drama with dance perfectly and without his performance as the weak, shy, loveless prince who simply wants love and affection this production would be nothing. This is a wonderful production that stays with you long after you have finished watching it.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Emma Gale on 20 Sep 2011
Format: DVD
I just love this work from Matthew Bourne. I saw it live in 2005 when it returned to Sadlers Wells and am disappointed that I missed Adam Cooper originating the role in the late 1990s. The concept of using all-male swans does indeed (as noted by another reviewer) give the male dancers a chance to shine in a work which traditionally sidelines the men as a prop for their dazzling female partners. Scott Ambler as the Prince is a very strong actor and (despite his fears when creating the production) holds his own alongside Adam Cooper's sublime performance. Cooper's Swan is majestic, graceful and brooding yet strangely vulnerable - a real treat. However, for me his Stranger is the more compelling part of the performance; an arrogant, sexy predator who commands the stage effortlessly and draws the eye.

This is one DVD I will re-watch again and again.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Dancing Kiwi on 13 Sep 2006
Format: DVD
I loved the live show. It is an interesting and unique interpretation of a great classic. I very much respect Matthew Bourne's work. The "swan" choreography is great. Adam Cooper dances beautifully. I was however frustrated with the composition / production of the DVD. I was constantly annoyed by the close ups that would cut into a wonderful flow of steps or the graceful patterns evolving in the choreography. In my opinion filming shots for ballet should never be smaller than the whole form of the body. In ballet the expressiveness is a whole body communication and therefore close up shots of faces is loosing part of the overall drama. It feels disjointed and I found it difficult to be swept away with the dance as I was in the theatre.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Lars Holmgren on 12 Nov 2010
Format: DVD
I just loved this ballet. Amazing how creative talent can transform a classical ballet into a very different story by using male dancers as swans. It really helps to read the attached synopsis before you watch the video, then you will really get into the story
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