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A Midsummer Night's Dream [VHS] [1999]

4.4 out of 5 stars 142 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Everett, Stanley Tucci, Calista Flockhart
  • Directors: Michael Hoffman
  • Writers: Michael Hoffman, William Shakespeare
  • Producers: Michael Hoffman, Ann Wingate, Arnon Milchan, Leslie Urdang, Nigel Goldsack
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English, Italian
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • VHS Release Date: 11 Sept. 2000
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004WCLI
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 248,098 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Michael Hoffman directs an all-star cast in this version of one of Shakespeare's most popular works, set in Italy in the 1890's. Duke Theseus (David Strathairn) is unhappy because his daughter Helena (Calista Flockhart), passionately in love with Lysander (Dominic West), refuses to marry her suitor Demetrius (Christian Bale). Helena's friend Hermia (Anna Friel) does love Demetrius, but her affection is unrequited. The quartet escape into the woods, with Helena and Lysander determined to elope. Meanwhile, the fairy king and queen Oberon (Rupert Everett) and Titania (Michelle Pfeiffer) are quarrelling, and their dispute entangles a group of amateur actors rehearsing their play.

From Amazon.co.uk

By far the best thing about director Michael Hoffman's A Midsummer Night's Dream is the extraordinary all-star cast, which follows the precedent created by Kenneth Branagh's Italian-set romantic Shakespeare comedy, Much Ado About Nothing (1993), of mixing major Hollywood stars, here Kevin Kline and Michelle Pfeiffer, with top British talent, in this instance Christian Bale, Rupert Everett, Roger Rees, David Strathairn and Dominic West. Kline makes a fine Nick Bottom, with Pfeiffer equally good as the fairy queen Titania and Everett brooding effectively as Oberon. Unfortunately, while both look ravishing, it is hard to tell which actress between Anna Friel (Brookside) and Calista Flockhart (Ally McBeal) gives the most wretched performance. Both are completely out of their depth the moment they begin to speak, and utterly outclassed by the excellent Sophie Marceau. Shot in Tuscany and set in the 19th century, parts of the film are extraordinarily beautiful, while other sections could have benefited from some judicious special effects magic. This is not a bad movie, but it is rather uninspired, lacking any real imaginative grasp of the play. In contrast, the much less well known and lower budget Royal Shakespeare Company version of 1996 positively revels in the fantastically surreal possibilities this timeless text. --Gary S. Dalkin

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Skeadugenga TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 Sept. 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I've never greatly cared for this play, like 12th Night it seemed more cruel than funny. Therefore I approached an "All Star" version with caution. However this film was a delightful surprise, not only is it a very good ensemble, but the director has managed to make sense of the humour of the "rude mechanicals" for me for the first time. I think this interpretation, even if its not slavishly faithful to the play, gets closer to the intended humour. Its the first version I've seen that actually made me laugh and believe Puck's assertion at the end that no harm has really been done.
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I was deeply unimpressed with the casting of this glossy version of one of my favourite plays, until Kevin Kline appeared on screen. Not only is his performance sublime, but he actually gave an interpretation of Bottom that I have never seen before, one that I found very human and moving. He is worth the admission price alone. Just as well since most of the other performances left me indifferent. Kline's performance lifts this to a four star rating, along with the fantastic incidental music - I've rarely heard the Mascagni used so effectively.
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This film especially for those perhaps visiting Shakespeare for the first time will find the setting of this play curious, yet very beautiful - clearly Shakespere is for all ages and for all times. The acting is superb and I do admit that Calista Flockhart takes this journey into the world of Shakespere wonderfully well (talented and very Beautiful!) Not too diminish the charms of both Michelle Pfeiffer and Anna Friel who seems to have been overlooked on the credits (? why) but Calista as Shakespearian Actress demonstrates she is far more than Ally Mc Beal! The cast, costume and settings of this play can be summed up as magical, in sixty years I have to rate this film as the absolute best ever for me.
Film has become violent and quite blatant in its exploitation of sex. This film is undoubtedly sensual - like the classical music that backs the film is sensual, but it it also fun and the special effects add to this sense of sheer delight.
Give this film a chance - let yourself go - watch Shakespere for once - this is how Shakespeare should be - not dried out in the school classroom - but full of wonderful life - and not a little spice!
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Splendid acting, splendid scenery, splendid conception altogether and especially from Kevin Kline who avoids making Bottom a bit of a twerp but instead presents him as a man with intelligence. My favourite part of Midsummer Night's Dream has always been the play within a play about Pyramus and Thisbe, and as always had me convulsed (ie with laughter).

I saw the BBC "Shakespeare retold" version awhile back and that wasn't nearly as good - indeed was sometimes quite boring and the play within a play was turned into two or three very poor modern-style variety acts. So I think it proves this isn't the easiest play to update to the present, although the Beeb's version did have the edge with Titania and Oberon who I think were even better conceived than in this version, but that doesn't detract from this Titania and Oberon as they are excellent. This version highly recommended and very more-ish.
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As a huge Shakespeare fan and a GCSE English teacher I can only say that this is the best adaptation i have ever seen (as it is my favourite of his 43 plays I have seen about 25 different adaptations). It is eminently watchable and Stanley Tucci as Puck, Everett as Oberon and Kline as Bottom, act as if they have waited all their lives for these roles.
Five stars. The only negative is that it is set in the Victorian era, which can confuse students, but all the pretty fairies - and the slight hint of seeing Michelle Pffiefers naked bottom - soon makes up for it!
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I've only one minus really on this production, that this Oberon isn't quite as good as the Oberon in the Beeb's Shakespeare Retold set - that Oberon was quite wonderful although the production generally was mediocre. However, this Oberon is perfectly good in what's such a delightful version of the play. I enjoyed the setting and the bicycles and yet maintaining the Shakespearean ethos throughout.

Particular accolades to Kevin Kline. Brilliant performance. Worth having really just for him!
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Delightful interpretation of the book. The casting is lovely and the setting beautiful. I particularly enjoy Pfeiffer and Everett as the king and queen of fairies, and the way their attendants turn into specks of light. The interplay between Theseus and Hippolyta gives her a greater role than is evident on the page. They seem more equal than some of the other pairings, which would make sense since she was Queen of the Amazons, a powerful woman. That counterbalances Egeus who feels he owns his daughter under Athenian law.
Not so keen on the lovers riding bicycles through the forest, and Kevin Klein overplays "Bottom". he is not funny enough. The part needs a lighter touch.
One of the moments that stays in my mind is during the final performance of Pyramus and Thisbe, when Flute suddenly begins to play the part convincingly, and the audience, having been laughing and commenting, fall silent and are moved.
Well worth the few pence this DVD costs, especially as I use it for teaching the play and Film Studies.
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