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Laurence Olivier Shakespeare Collection [DVD]
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Box set featuring six Shakespeare adaptations starring legendary actor Laurence Olivier. In 'King Lear' (1983), the ageing King Lear (Olivier) decides to split his kingdom between three daughters - Regan, Cordelia and Goneril - with each receiving a share appropriate to the amount of love they feel for him. However, when the faithful Cordelia refuses to protest her devotion, an enraged Lear foolishly cedes complete control to the devious remaining siblings - with terrible results. In 'Henry V' (1944), the young king (Olivier) puts his rakish past behind him and rallies his men to invade France, winning against the enemy's superior numbers. The film was shot in Ireland to avoid the constant bombardment of the Blitz and Olivier was discharged from the Navy to make the film. In 'Hamlet' (1948), Hamlet (Olivier), Prince of Denmark, is still mourning over the death of his father and his mother Gertrude's (Eileen Herlie) subsequent remarriage to Hamlet's despised uncle, Claudius (Basil Sydney), who is now King. When his father's ghost appears to Hamlet and reveals that it was Claudius who murdered him, the young prince vows revenge. However, a fatal flaw in his character - hesitation - mars his efforts, resulting in murder, madness and treachery. In 'The Merchant of Venice' (1974), Jewish moneylender Shylock (Olivier) provides young Antonio (Anthony Nichols) with a loan, stating that if it is not repaid he will claim a pound of flesh. When Antonio's bond defaults, Shylock attempts to claim his grisly compensation in a court of law, but Portia (Joan Plowright) pleads Antonio's case. In 'Richard III' (1955), Olivier stars as the cold and calculating king, a treacherous and untrustworthy fellow who makes plans to kill anyone who threatens his position. Henry Stafford (Ralph Richardson), the Duke of Clarence (John Gielgud) and Lady Anne Neville (Claire Bloom) are just some of those moving in his orbit. 'As You Like It' (1936) was filmed in England in 1936 when Olivier was still considered a promising young actor rather than one of the finest thespians ever, as he would later become, this is his first filmed Shakespeare performance and thus a milestone in film history.
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Top Customer Reviews
Olivier was a thrilling actor on the stage and much of his magic is captured these screen performances. I still miss him.
This set contains all of the notable plays, from the film created to restore sinking morales in the depths of World War II, Henry V, to his magnificent performance of King Lear, one of his final acting roles. The full list of the films in this set is as follows:
Merchant of Venice
As You Like It
If you want to see Shakespeare, this is surely the best way short of going to the theatre yourself. This collection really does show why Olivier really is held in such high esteem.
The boxset consists of 7 discs, with one for each of the films as well as a bonus disc with an insightful interview with Michael Parkinson.
Worth buying if only for Olivier's performances as Hamlet and King Lear, the latter of which is one of the most outstanding pieces of acting ever caught on film.
I cannot recommend this collection highly enough. Especially at this price.
Merchant of Venice
As You Like It
As well as all the plays listed, it comes with an interview disc of Laurence Olivier being interviewed by Michael Parkinson. You love Shakespeare, you love Laurence Olivier? What are you waiting for? Buy it! Only quibble is because of the design of the packaging one of the discs keeps falling out.
I liked Henry V best because of the "look" of it: The action shifts from a performance in a theatre into a landscape which looks like a medieval painting with all the same errors in scale and perspective.... and beautiful colours.
By contrast, Hamlet was set in a bleak monochrome castle. Laurence Olivier was particularly good in this one.
Overall, this is a good introduction to Shakespeare.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm no judge, but the Olivier Hamlet film is among the best films I've ever seen. With guest appearance of Private Fraser from Dad's Army.Published 12 months ago by john
there is little to write about two formidable showMen: Shakespeare and Olivier. A perfect matchPublished 23 months ago by Antonio Pulvirenti
Anyone who remembers Laurence Olivier will love this collection. And yes, some of the performances may be rated as hammy by todays standards of acting but these adaptations are... Read morePublished on 20 Mar. 2014 by catherine york
Very good selection of the Shakespeare plays with the incredible actor of Laurence Olivier. Veru good to use for research work as well.Published on 4 Aug. 2013 by Maj Sanders