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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
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...
Published on 28 Feb 2010 by Aanel Victoria

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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...
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...
Published 19 months ago by Byrdnuts


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 28 Feb 2010
By 
Aanel Victoria (USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: All's Well That Ends Well - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1981] (DVD)
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 review is from: All's Well That Ends Well - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1981] (DVD)
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
This review is from: All's Well That Ends Well - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1981] (DVD)
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
By 
G. Collins - See all my reviews
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This review is from: All's Well That Ends Well - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1981] (DVD)
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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3.0 out of 5 stars Bard on an off-day!, 30 Oct 2014
By 
Mr. David Titley (Lichfield, Staffordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: All's Well That Ends Well - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1981] (DVD)
Shakespeare was a brilliant writer, but even brilliant writers have their off days. This is one of the most difficult of his plays to pull off in the theatre. the director pulls it off as well as he can. the scenes are very intimate, lots of close ups and small rooms. Exactly right. All the actors give of their best - i bought it for Celia Johnson. Her performance is spot on but she is a little too old for the role. Donald Sinden is superb as the king whom the heroine cures. The text is well spoken and the comedy is understated [It is the least funny of the bard's comedies] If you need to know the play most of the text is there. But so much of this text is convoluted to the point of incomprehensibility, that the clarity of diction does not help!
The medicine of the play might have gone down better with a spoonful of pantomime and slapstick, but here the order of the day is refinement.
Hats off to the Director and the actors!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good job but for a rather light play, 5 Oct 2010
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This review is from: All's Well That Ends Well - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1981] (DVD)
This is a simple comedy by Shakespeare. Nothing to deface the world with laughter or to haunt your sleepless nights. But we find in this light comedy some themes that are dear to our playwright. Love, and love, and love. The love of a girl for a boy, of a young woman for a young man, a love that cannot exist because of the social difference between the two. The ingenuity and creativity of the young woman who saves the life of the king with the medical knowledge she received from her father, and the promise of the King to give her any man she wants. She chooses the young man who is well obliged to oblige and get married, which does not mean consume the union. He goes to the war and the young woman is going to follow and with some other young women she will trick him into impregnating her and an exchange of rings will make the situation very difficult for him. So the union has been consumed sort of on the side and the young man graciously accepts his defeat and declares his love. That is slightly artificial but Shakespeare in his comedies at times is slightly superficial. Another theme that is dealt with nicely is the "captain" that takes care of the young noble man we are dealing with when serving in the military. He is a liar, he is a coward, he is also running after skirts as much as he can. Shakespeare disgraces him with some kind of conjuration and he ends up nearly a beggar, stinking to hell and blazes and ready to do anything to get a penny. That's a very simple version of what Falstaff is going to be later but he is funny in some ways though pathetic. The BBC is adding to that play that is mostly taking place in France, and a little in Florence, a setting and costumes that are, in the house of the young man, very close to the Flemish school of painting, Rembrandt and the Van Eyck brothers. That gives to the play a post-Renaissance touch that is slightly surprising.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 8 Saint Denis, University Paris 12 Créteil, CEGID
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars damaged, 22 April 2013
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This review is from: All's Well That Ends Well - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1981] (DVD)
The dvd arrived quickly and was mostly playable but must have had some scratches aas sections of the film wouldnt play.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars its a dvd, 15 May 2014
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This review is from: All's Well That Ends Well - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1981] (DVD)
what can I say it arrived on time in the condition it was described as its a dvd nowt more to say
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All's Well That Ends Well - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1981]
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