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on 8 March 2009
A few weeks ago, I was browsing on YouTube and came across an excerpt from one of the Shakespeare Animated Tales, and was reminded of how enjoyable and clever they were when they were first broadcast by the BBC in the 1990s. I ordered the DVD boxset online from Amazon straight away, and was astonished to have it arrive by post within 3 days!

I love these animated tales - not only have the makers somehow captured the essence of each play in just 30 minutes, but also reflected the individual flavour of each piece with the style of animation used: dark, claustrophobic paintings on glass for the tragic Hamlet, and brightly coloured, fun stop-motion animation for comedies like Twelfth Night.

These little half-hour gems are not only edifying, but also entertaining, and - as has no doubt been demonstrated effectively during BBC's schools broadcasts over the last decade or so - are a perfect form of introduction for children to the rich literary tapestry and language of Shakespeare's works.
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on 15 January 2006
Here's my review, I hope it is helpful:
This Animated Shakespeare Box Set, winner of 2 Emmy awards, contains 12 of the bard's plays that were originally broadcast on BBC2 in 1994. The scripts for the 'Animated Tales' have been adapted from the original Shakespeare by Leon Garfield. A reknowed Shakespearean scholar, Garfield worked closely with a panel of academic experts to create plays that are masterfully abridged to only 30 minutes, yet are faithful to Shakespeare's language and plots.
The 12 episodes are :
1. Romeo & Juliet
2. Twelfth Night
3. The Tempest
4. A Midsummer's Nights Dream
5. Richard III
6. Othello
7. The Taming Of The Shrew
8. Macbeth
9. A Winter's Tale
10. As You Like It
11. Hamlet
12. Julius Caesar
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on 5 March 2003
This may be a cartoon, but it's not for children exclusively. Contrary to what you may expect, this one doesn't totally dilute the violence or substitute Shakespeare's language for a simple-to-understand dialect; there are a few gory bits (although they are obviously no way near as shocking as some of the scenes featured in other adaptations, such as Roman Polanski's film) and the dialogue isn't changed, letting some of the most memorable, disturbing lines keep their edge.
This animation is about half an hour long, and that comes as a slight disappointment: quite a few chunks that the adults will remember have been cut down significantly or have gone completely. For example, the viewer isn't really shown Macbeth's real motives for the murders, so newcomers to the play may be slightly confused with what's actually going on.
Overall, this is worth your money if you either like the original play of Macbeth, or are looking for an alternative to the live action screen adaptations of the play. I don't see why they couldn't have made it a bit longer though, which is the cartoon's main weakness.
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on 29 April 2009
This is a fabulous dvd. I use it with children. They love it. It features animations of key parts of the plays with the language of Shakespeare. It is also subtitled so it gives the viewer a great insight into the scenes. Love it. A valuable classroom resource!
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on 10 August 2010
Want an accessible student's introduction to twelve of Shakespeare's best-loved and most-studied plays? Look no further. Originally produced for the BBC and S4C, these shimmering animations are a tiny delight. Each play is compressed to a classroom-sized 30 minute duration apiece. The animations adopt wildly differing styles but are arresting and timeless. Most importantly, Leon Garfield's magnificent abridged texts capture the essence and narrative complexity of each play without ever becoming frustrating or simplistic. For a young student approaching Shakespeare for the first time, it is SO important that they get to taste and love the writer's original verse. This isn't a babyish bowdlerised Shakespeare, Garfield has completely embraced the power of the original texts without compromise. World-class actors provide the voice talents for an entrancing effect.

Flick on the encoded DVD subtitles, and you have a marvellous textual support for any student struggling with the complexity of the original poetry.

Not a miracle, but a concoction of twelve little miracles spread over three DVD discs! Worth every penny, you'll play these Shakespeare tales over and over.
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on 14 January 2011
I teach teenagers with special needs and I have found this DVD an excellent introduction to Shakespeare's plays. My pupils have gained a good understanding of the plays before we begin acting out some of the scenes.
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on 8 May 2004
A carefully considered adaptation, cut down to just 29 minutes by Leon Garfield, this is a great way of introducing the play to younger secondary school pupils - it held the attention of my Year 8s last thing on a Friday so it must be pretty good! This adaptation is particularly useful for helping pupils get to grips with the plot and atmosphere of the play. Rightly, the adaptation covers Acts 4 & 5 in far less detail than Acts 1-3, but many teachers will chose to end their studies of the play not long after the famous orations of Mark Anthony.
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on 23 February 2010
Brought this boxset for my children after I remembered having watched it when it was originally broadcasted on the BBC when I was a child, particularly for my 9 year old but even my 4 year old loved it, all in all really enjoyable and highly recommended.
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on 21 October 2010
I love these animated tales. I remember watching them as boy, and they haven't lost their magic now. I hear they've also created a schools drama festival from them, the Shakespeare Schools Festival, where students perform the half hour plays in theatres.
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on 16 January 2013
I used to watch The Animated Tales as a teenager and it sparked my love of Shakespeare plays. Abridged into 20-30 minutes, each animated feature captures the essence of the play in an entertaining, easy-to-understand way. A fantastic resource to accompany teaching of the play at primary or secondary level.

The complete DVD boxed set is well worth the price I bought it for. It contains all the animated tales, organised in genres as well as special features such as the making of...
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