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The Winter's Tale - BBC Shakespeare Collection [1981]

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Jeremy Kemp, Anna Calder-Marshall, Robert Stephens, Debbie Farrington, Margaret Tyzack
  • Directors: Jane Howell
  • Producers: Jonathan Miller
  • Format: PAL, Colour, Full Screen, Mono
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: BBC Worldwide
  • Run Time: 173 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KPATRE
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 41,310 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

In 1978, the BBC set itself the task of filming all of William Shakespeare's plays for television. The resulting productions, renowned for their loyalty to the text, utilised the best theatrical and television directors and brought highly praised performances from leading contemporary actors - THE WINTER'S TALE [1981] Leontes, King of Sicilia becomes convinced that his wife, Hermione, is guitly of adultery with his friend Polixenes, the King of Bohemia. He sends his wife to prison and tries to kill his friend - setting in motion a trin of tragic consequences. This stylised production of one of Shakespeare's most haunting and enigmatic late works revels in its intense conlicts. An excellent cast (including Jeremy Kemp as a magnificent Leontes) highlight the tragic intensity and comic grace of the play.

Customer Reviews

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The winters tale is one of Shakespeares finest works.
It may not seem so at first. But there are many subtle messages being brought over to you the viewer. Basically Leontes becomes suspicous of his wife fidelity. Because of this he orders the death of his friend Polixenes but the courtier asked to do the deed can not bring himself to do as ordered. Leontes then has his wife imprisoned and so starts a tragic train of events.
This is a very fine play, there are laughs, there is intrigue and there are tears.
Although the end is predictable there is a surprise too. If you want Shakespeare at his best but dont want a really heavy play then try this. I certainly recommend it.
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I made the mistake of curling up on a cold Sunday afternoon to watch this unfamiliar play without first checking the running time. An hour and twenty minutes later - when I was half hoping it was drawing to a close - I was dismayed to see "End of Part One" appear on the screen! I spent the second half fidgeting, looking at my watch, and trying to decide when to start making dinner.

This version of The Winters Tale runs to almost three hours, and therefore is really only for true fans of the Bard. As a story, the first half is intense and psychological, a tale of jealousy and revenge, like Macbeth or Othello, though it failed to grip me like either of those. The staging all through is very minimalist, and most of this first half consists of actors talking on an almost bare set. Jeremy Kemp and Robert Stephens did their best as Leontes and Polixenes, but neither were compelling enough to really engage me in the story. I have thoroughly disliked Anna Calder-Marshall any time I have seen her before (as Cordelia in Lear, Cathy in Wuthering Heights, and in an episode of Inspector Morse), but here she was actually quite good, providing a very restrained and dignified Hermione.

The second half had more variety; romance, comedy, drama - and some of the younger actors were impressive. Robin Kermode, as Florizel, looked like Coldplay's Chris Martin, and was a convincing Prince Charming; Perdita (Debbie Farrington) was very pretty and Paul Jesson provided plenty of silliness as the Clown. However, the simple sets meant that it remained very much a play, and failed to really draw me in; even had I been prepared for the 3 hour running length, I would have found it went on too long.
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As a result of buying this I then bought the complete set of Shakespeare's plays. I have now watched and listened to them all twice and have begun a third time round! Great!
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The film gives a better understanding of Shakespeare's play, thanks to the talent of the interpreters.It's quite long (about 3 hours)but it's certainly worth watching.
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A fascinating play in which Shakespeare follows a simple pattern of his but multiplies the variations on that pattern. Two king brothers Leontes and Polixemes get into some row about Leontes' wife who is accused by Leontes to be an unfaithful adulteress with his brother. That accusation causes a severe punishment from the Gods: their son Mamilius dies, and then his wife Hermione dies but he had banned the daughter she had gotten then, mind you from him is spite of his accusations, and sent one of the four (mark that number) noblemen of his court, Antigonus, to expose her to wild beasts but in fact Antigonus is killed by a bear and the daughter called then Perdita is retrieved from the wild by a shepherd. Antigonus was the husband of the midwife who delivered the daughter of the Queen. Leontes had also sent a second of his noblemen after his brother Polixemes to poison him, which that nobleman Camillo will not do and he will shift allegiances.

We jump then from Sicilia, Leontes' kingdom, to Bohemia, Polixemes' kingdom and the shepherds there, "sixteen summers" later, of course will I say: 4 is good, 8=4x2 is perfect so you can imagine what 16=4x4=8x2 can be: heaven. And heaven it is. Polixemes' son Florizel is courting the shepherdess Perdita. The father, Polixemes, and his adviser, Camillo, under disguise, find out. Camillo will play the double agent in the two directions: securing a diplomatic mission to Florizel from his father in Sicilia and Perdita could go along and they could be married in Sicilia, and at the same time the Shepherd who raised Perdita manages to bring to Polixemes the evidence of the royal origin of Perdita and then Camillo and Polixemes plus the Old shepherd and his son just known as the clown follow suit and arrive in Sicilia just after the two young people.
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