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Swan Lake [DVD] [1998]

Adam Cooper , Scott Ambler , Matthew Bourne    Exempt   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)

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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
  • 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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CWO8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 49,950 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



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

Product Description

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you haven't seen it - DO SO! 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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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great ballet In a brilliant new light 4 Jun 2007
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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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mesmerising dance/drama with a tragic story. 7 Mar 2002
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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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frustrated by the DVD Production 13 Sep 2006
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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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful re-imagining of a classic 20 Sep 2011
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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, creative performance 12 Nov 2010
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Ian Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Swan Dance
I loved this. I am a massive dance fan and go regularly to see classical as well contemporary ballets live, so I wasn't so sure about watching recorded dance on a dvd. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Sam
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious!!!
Loved Bourne`s Sleeping Beauty and was equally delighted with this performance The interpretation was fascinating and did much to breath fresh life into a much loved ballet.
Published 5 months ago by Michael Poxon
5.0 out of 5 stars a defining moment in modern culture
This 1995 production from Adventures in Motion Pictures shows how an imaginative, daring new take on a classic work can broaden the sense of what it fundamentally is. Read more
Published 5 months ago by schumann_bg
5.0 out of 5 stars I love love love it!
I cannot wait coming to amazon buy this dvd after watching it in Birmingham this February. I was completely fascinated by this show that I cannot take myself out of thinking about... Read more
Published 6 months ago by KW
2.0 out of 5 stars Loved the ballet, damaged DVD
I loved the ballet, I purchased after I saw it live and I wanted to see the original version.

The DVD came damaged tho so a few song are not really clear.
Published 7 months ago by Uni guy
1.0 out of 5 stars cd
was disappointed when I discovered it was a very modern ballet I thought it was an original but still enjoyable to watch. Joan
Published 7 months ago by Joan
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant dvd
Saw Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake recently at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London. It was absolutely brilliant. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Brandy Bee
5.0 out of 5 stars Swan Lake
I have been trying to find a copy of this DVD since I left college as i studied it during my Dance A-Level. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Sherrisse Lindsay
5.0 out of 5 stars Swan Lake dvd
Amazing production, now on again in London, after several years, I saw this maybe 4 times on both London and in the US, it was, and still is, a revelation. Read more
Published 8 months ago by the traveller
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