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Alan Bennett at the BBC [DVD]

4.6 out of 5 stars 114 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: John Normington, James Cossins, Philip Locke, David Waller, Don McKillop
  • Directors: Stephen Frears, John Schlesinger, Stuart Burge, Richard Eyre, Udayan Prasad
  • Producers: Innes Lloyd
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles For The Hearing Impaired: English
  • Audio Description: 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: 4
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: 2entertain
  • DVD Release Date: 26 Oct. 2009
  • Run Time: 611 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002KSA40G
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,106 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

Alan Bennett is one of Britain’s most popular and prolific authors and playwrights. He initially wrote for the stage, but found that with his observant eye for the absurdities of modern life and sharp ear for dialogue, his work transferred easily and effectively to the small screen.

This collection brings together many of Alan Bennett’s previously unreleased BBC productions dating from 1972 through to 1994. It includes his first television play, A Day Out; autobiographical pieces such as Dinner at Noon and Portrait or Bust and celebrated plays such as A Woman of No Importance, An Englishman Abroad and A Question of Attribution.

The plays, each with a specially recorded introduction by Alan Bennett, feature a number of great British actors including Daniel Day Lewis, Alan Bates, Patricia Routledge, Janet McTeer, James Fox and Prunella Scales and number Richard Eyre, Stephen Frears and John Schlesinger among the directors.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By schumann_bg TOP 50 REVIEWER on 24 Jun. 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
These four discs contain not a dull moment, and range from the early 70s to the early 90s. You can see a progression in terms of the complexity of the films, I think, or at least in terms of their multi-facetted aspect, beginning with the relatively straightforward A Day Out and the domestic dramas Our Winnie and Sunset across the Bay. These show his amazing ear for dialogue - he just gets people with unerring accuracy, and humour which never seems forced. Underlying this is also a sense of life's sadness, but the roundness with which he views his characters transcends this in a way that is far more subtle than covering it over with witty lines. Two vehicles for Patricia Routledge prove very enjoyable, A Woman Of No Importance having a particular pathos which sits oddly - but brilliantly - with the character's serious limitations. She seems to have absolutely no sense of how others perceive her - what Bennett calls her solipsism - yet the final wordless image is very moving. A Visit From Miss Prothero casts her in a more surreal role, with a strong projection of the baleful pull of the workplace psychology even against her former colleague's totally justified resistance.

For me the best films are probably the one about Proust and the two about Anthony Blunt and Guy Burgess. They are so densely written, yet thoroughly enjoyable. Alan Bates is fantastic in both his roles (as Proust and Burgess), beautifully offset by Coral Browne in An Englishman Abroad and Janet McTeer in 102 Boulevard Haussmann. The latter was new to me and the evocation of Proust's world was delightful, with his eccentrically grand behaviour as finely judged as the cooking of the takeaway meals he ordered from the Ritz at all hours of the night.
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These television films reveal not only what a versatile writer Alan Bennett is but what a loss he is to the medium, since he has written little for it since 1991. His northern roots are well in evidence in the early A Day Out (1972)(about a Halifax cycling club before and after the First World War) and Sunset Across The Bay (1975)(about a Leeds couple whose retirement to Morecambe proves far from being what they hoped). Both films have a rare, understated poignancy. The later, more sophisticated and worldly Bennett is exemplified by his two plays about the Cambridge spies : An Englishman Abroad (1983) and A Question of Attribution (1991), the latter surely being unique in having the Queen herself as a sympathetically-portrayed character. More uncharacteristic in style is the strange and disturbing Kafka-inspired The Insurance Man (1986). There are one or two weaker pieces but overall this is a splendid collection, distinguished by memorable performances by, among others, Patricia Routledge, James Fox, Alan Bates and (as 'HMQ') Prunella Scales.
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The purity of ordinary life and lives observed and translated superbly for the small screen by a master of his writing craft. Thoroughly and highly recommended. When you find yourself bored with modern superficial TV drama and exasperated by the American film machine’s shallow writing values, sustained often enough only by its computerised special-effects crutch, then revitalise your jaded palate by returning to an original source of natural playwright-genius. You won’t be disappointed.
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A great collection by a master storyteller. Not the best of indices to the DVDs in the set. Need to make an effort to find which programme to view..
Shame that an equal quality booklet was not produced,
.
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Enjoying these plays - but there is a problem with at least one. It plays one scene twice - very annoying - i gave up with that one.
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I love the humanity of Bennett's work. I recognize the characters in "Our Winnie" even though I have lived in the American Midwest my whole life whereas the vast, vast majority of American film and television takes place on a planet I don't recognize. I grew up living and working around mentally challenged children and Sheila Kelly's portrayal of Winnie stayed with me for days.
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Bought to take a perspective, really. Great value. Delighted by one film/play for far, 'gloomed' by another. There's more than a dash of J B Priestley in Alan Bennett.
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One of the best box sets you could possibly buy. A really good selection of good things. I cannot recommend too highly.
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