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The Pirates of Penzance [DVD] [1982]

3.2 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

Price: £9.83
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Product details

  • Actors: Peter Allen, Keith Michell, Alexander Oliver, Gillian Knight, Janis Kelly
  • Directors: Rodney Greenberg
  • Format: PAL, Full Screen, Dolby, Digital Sound, Surround Sound
  • Language: 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: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Universal Pictures UK
  • DVD Release Date: 13 Dec. 2004
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006M4SLE
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 53,209 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

One of Gilbert and Sullivan's most famous operettas. A young man is forced into piracy and a life of crime but manages to return to favour and win the woman he loves.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

A few highlights brighten this pedestrian and inconsistent production. The music flowed and the theatrical sets were good. The introductory talks and short location film of the Penzance coastline fed nicely into the story. The modern Major General, old nurse and head policemen were brilliant with marvellous voices and diction. The American Pirate King sang well with good diction but in his dialogue battled with the English accent despite a valiant effort. However the chorus work was stilted with bad diction. When Gilbert and Sullivan's words can't be heard what is the point of watching? One expects a somewhat stylised performance in the mode of Gilbert and Sullivan, however this performance failed to flow. Some of the cast had stilted gestures and rather sing-song dialogue and in parts it appeared inadequately rehearsed. I eventually decided I was glad I had rented not bought the DVD so I wasn't stuck with it. In Act II I put it on as background music to the end and was glad to post it back.
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I'm a huge fan of G&S operas and have most of them on CD/iPod, but have yet to find a really good DVD of any of them. That said, this is probably the best Pirates DVD I've seen, but that isn't really saying much. I bought this to replace a VHS video, as I'm looking to get rid of my ancient video recorder. It's the same production, and not much better quality. Stage management is very amateurish, strange camera angles, awful scenery, and some of the acting leaves a lot to be desired. Didn't like the 'camp' portrayal of the Pirate King at all, and while Keith Michell acted the part of the Major General quite well, he's certainly not a singer. The orchestra is quite good, but out of sync some of the time, probably because of the poor quality of the recording. The choreography is poor, at times it seemed people were just running around the stage in random directions!

I thought most of the singing was actually quite good, quite impressed with some of the soloists, Ruth in particular. I've given this 3 stars because as I said, it's probably the best there is out there (I've tried Opera Australia as well, but not impressed with their rendition either). Why oh why can't we have some decent film recordings of G&S operas? I'm lucky enough (and old enough!) to have seen the Savoy Opera perform several of these operettas, and it's possible to get videos of some of their performances with the wonderful John Reid and Valerie Masters, but nothing seems to have been put onto DVD. There is also I believe a G&S Opera Society who perform at the Buxton Festival, but again, no DVDs of their performances. An opportunity missed I think, as I'm sure there are a lot of G&S fans still out there.
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I bought this for my grandfather, who is a big fan of filmed stage performances (he reckons that TV adaptations always seem stagey and stilted, which becomes irrelevant when you're watching it performed on an actual stage), and of the more traditional style (perhaps old-fashioned) approach to G&S. This version features Gillian Knight of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, a favourite of his from his LP collection.

Our combined comments are thus:
This is a made-for-TV version of a stage production: consequently, it feels like a pantomime performance. Laughs are lost, words are obscured, and music and singing sounds deadened and dull.
Setting: I know it's supposed to be set in a sandy cove and a cemetery, but it looks like a children's TV studio and Hampstead Heath. Would be OK if the rest of it worked, but set against the cast, performances and camera work, it's just dismal.
Camera work: yes, well. Clunky and static. If you find the camera work obtrusively noticeable in a comic opera, it's a bit rubbbish.
Music: this is not a live orchestra, it is a cast miming along to a recording. This is pretty disastrous for the resultant pace, sparkle and general vivacity of the performance. Singing is also best described as variable to ropey.
Summary: it ends up as a turgid, corny version, largely because the cast don't seem to be having any fun. G&S operas are such an artifice at the best of times that they only really work in the medium they are designed for, i.e. the (slightly disreputable) stage. Any other medium just creates its own failings. Much, much better are the series of Australian productions recorded at the Sydney Opera House, which are gradually being released.
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This is clearly a low-budget production and I know it is one of a series (by producer Judith de Paul), but it is very well done, nonetheless. This owes much to a high-quality cast including Keith Michell in the role of the Major General, for which he was famous, and the great operatic soprano Janis Kelly as Mabel. However what really makes it for me is the completely unexpected but inspired casting of Peter Allen in the starring role. A wonderfully suave - not to say ever-so-slightly-effeminate - Pirate King. Brilliant. And no previous acting experience, apparently!!
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Always a fan of G & S and especially the "Pirates of Penzance". I looked forward to this much advertised version, only to be disappointed. The main characters - Keith Michell as the Major General - Peter Allen as the Pirate King, and Paul Hudson as Sergant of Police - together gave very disappointing performances. Their on stage acting and line delivery being weak to say the least . Gillian Knight as Ruth was much stronger than her lack luster "leader". Janis Kelly was quite good as Mabel - her singing was strong and she portrayed good stage presence. However at no time did the production "take-off" for me. In truth I have enjoyed many so called amature productions much more. The chorous did all that was seemingly asked of them, but again - "no spark".
This production promised much but delivered little.
It would not convert many to the work of G & S.
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