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William Shakespeare's Macbeth [1978] [DVD]

4.3 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Ian McKellen, Judi Dench
  • Directors: Philip Casson
  • Writers: William Shakespeare
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Fremantle
  • DVD Release Date: 24 May 2004
  • Run Time: 145 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001XLWGC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,584 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Television performance of Trevor Nunn's acclaimed RSC production. Following their triumph in battle, warrior generals Macbeth (Ian McKellen) and Banquo are rewarded well by King Duncan. However, a prediction by three crones turns Macbeth's mind to further glory, and encouraged by his ambitious wife (Judy Dench) he secretly murders Duncan while he sleeps. Macbeth now seizes the throne for himself, but his new-found power is soured by guilt over his bloody deeds.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on 5 Sept. 2005
A TV version of a stage production is normally a recipe for disaster: not so here, however. Ian MacKellen and Judi Dench (not yet Sir and Dame) are riveting as the husband and wife team from hell. McKellen's descent into indifferent, hubristic madness is chilling, and Judi Dench's screech in the sleepwalking scene is - quite simply - unbelievable: if this does not send shudders down your spine, nothing will.
Given the fact that this Macbeth was recorded in 1979, the picture quality leaves a bit to be desired, but any lover of Shakespeare or great acting would be insane not to buy this DVD.
Prepare to be blown away. (And by the way: where is television of this quality today?)
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The use of light & dark is fantastic. It's in colour but looks like black & white.

Comes across as a stage play (which it is!) and avoids the temptation to go for lavish sets, e.g., the battle scenes, just because it's a film.

I saw the original stage play and this is just as good. The best filmed Shakespeare tragedy I've seen. Absolutely superb
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This is not just another Macbeth. Though faithful to the text and to the poetry of the text, this is used as a springboard to the production's own powerful exploration of what really drove Shakespeare - the issue of good and evil. Neither McKellen nor Dench have quite the right face for their characters (too strong and too warm respectively) but this is unimportant. Their unparalleled intensity of delivery glues the play together from beginning to end, however unpleasant to watch. But the most remarkable achievement is the way the so-called `minor' characters steadily coalesce into a unified force for good that by the end over-rides all else in our attention. The Act IV English scene is extraordinarily strong, `king's cure' and all. The need to produce for TV, usually a noose around the neck of Shakespeare, is mightily used here: no set to speak of, darkness everywhere against which a certain amount of white and occasional flashes of red or gold make their impact, a superb use of camera angles, and music that perfectly matches and supports the tone of the production. And as well as the modern dress there is a curiously modern style of delivery that makes this not Shakespeare's exploration of his theme but our own. Trevor Nunn and his team have out-Shakespeared Shakespeare.
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I remember watching this RSC production of Macbeth on VHS while studying for my English GCSEs in 1996. Having read the book I was in awe of how Ian McKellen and Judy Dench had brought the play to life. It is now 2006 and I have just finished watching it again on DVD and am still equally impressed. It's an excellent performance that will live in your brain for a lifetime. (p.s. Ian McKellen also delivers a mean Iago in the RSC production of Othello now availiable on DVD).
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I have never seen a "Macbeth" to touch this - on stage or screen.
This has the darkness, the danger and the madness that so often eludes those who try to bring this piece to life. McKellen and Dench are awe-inspiring, evidencing the intelligence that makes a great Shakespeare actor able to communicate the force and meaning of every word without either condescending or over-emphasising. A joy.
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What can I say? I have always maintained that what we see and derive from reading Shakespeare depends upon what is in us - our own nature, intellect and mood. To see Shakespeare dramatised upon a stage is no different except that there is a more full opportunity for audience participation in its presentation; something that Shakespeare was very good at providing for - although its outcome is always dependent upon the calibre of the director . . .
Macbeth is a deep and profound story in and of itself and finds root in the essence of the struggle between good and evil. We find this same struggle portrayed for us in the Bible by the Apostle Paul in the seventh chapter of his letter to the believers in Rome, (Romans 7). Unlike Paul, however, who reveals the solution to this struggle in Romans chapter eight, there is no redemption in Macbeth . . .
Or is there?
This particular dramatisation is very good indeed (You only need to see who play the prominent roles to raise expectations) and if you do not possess a copy - do buy it. Then, having girded up your loins, find someone to share a good bottle of wine with and settle in for the emotional ride that Macbeth always produces . . .
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By Bluebell TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 April 2011
I watch this production of Macbeth every few years as it is simply the best I've seen, and I've seen quite a few. Before this version I wouldn't have thought Ian McKellan an obvious choice for Macbeth. However, he is utterly superb bringing Shakespeare's words to vivid life. The staging is austere, with clever use of light and darkness. Though largely bare of any props, the sheer strength of the play and the power of the acting all works beautifully. There are many familiar faces in the cast and as an ensemble they create a memorable experience.
Trevor Nunn, the director, has created a number of wonderful versions of Shakespeare plays, notably Othello (1990) [DVD] in which Ian McKellan is a marvelously sinister Iago and Imogen Stubbs (Nunn's wife) a heart-rending Desdemona.
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