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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 23 January 2009
This 4DVD Box set contains cinematic versions of all 19 plays that Beckett wrote. Each play has a different director and set of actors (including among others John Geiguid (his last ever appearance on screen or stage), Alan Rickman, Juliet Stephenson, David Thewlis, Michael Gambon, Kristin Scott-Thomas and many more) so it isn't simply a 'rep's' perspective of all the plays. Nor are they simply films of the play being acted on a stage, the point of the 'Becket on Film' project being to bring Beckett to the big screen using cinematic techniques.

Each DVD also contains a short 'addenda' programme explaining the history and salient points of the plays with an occasioinal interview with the director of the plays that are on their respective DVDs.

There is also a short documentary on the final DVD describing the whole project of putting the plays onto the 'big screen', how it came about in the first place and the difficulties and objections/critiques of putting Beckett on film.

Without going into the pros and cons of making Beckett plays into a cinematic experience; for the unitiated this is an ideal introduction to the canon. Indeed I have seen 'Godot' many times on stage, but the version here is, in my own opinion, the best one I have had the pleasure to watch. Not all of the plays of Becket are immeidiately accessible as has been said, but this project takes a giant step forward in bringing Beckett to the masses.

While not cheap, I grant you, I cannot recommend this enough and will be something you will watch over and over again.
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on 1 July 2009
Given the strictness of the Beckett estate on the staging of his work, the imagination and variety here are staggering. Excellent casting and performances help but the real star here is the writer. Existentially challenging but also deeply tender and and unexpectedly funny. Despite a forbidding reputation, watching Beckett in performance is an uplifting experience, and the opportunity to have them all together is too good to miss. Cheap at double the price. Buy it.
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on 31 August 2010
These versions of Beckett's plays are striking. They are not always quite what Beckett might have intended (the cries in 'Breath' are not birth cries; in 'Not I', we do not have a single maintained perspective and there is no listener present, for example) but they offer stimulus for discussion and are perhaps a little more accessible then Beckett at his most stark might be. For diehard Beckett fans, they offer a challenge to established perceptions; for newcomers, they give an insight into this remarkable playwright's thinking. They are certainly worth buying and watching repeatedly - just as Beckett himself would probably have done.
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on 29 March 2006
This set is intriguing, beguiling, captivating and frustrating. I'm no Beckett purist, so I found some of the liberties taken with the films, such as 'What Where' the most exciting pieces on this set. 'Play', however, is the high point here, with the perfect marriage of Beckett's text and a thoroughly visceral use of camera. There is little negative to say apart from the actual DVD design itself, with the same snatch of music used for every menu, and the same interviews included in both the extras accompanying the plays and the documentary about the project. This makes the high price for this set a little hard to bear. But the films themselves are worth it...
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on 5 October 2013
These film versions of Beckett's plays have on the main, tried and succeeded in being faithful to his original vision.
There are some plays ( in this context films) on this collection that are very dry and some would say boring even for a Beckett fan but this box set is about getting more frequent access to these works and there are some really wonderful interpretations. Each one of the longer plays is done justice with great versions. Godot, End Game, Happy Days and Crapp's Last Tape are all strongly and appropriately cast, but a lot of the short plays are also well cast and captivating such as Play and Come and Go, Catastrophe and Damien Hirst's direction of the 30 second Breath. it is reasonable to regard Waiting for Godot and End Game as masterpieces of 20th Century theatre but there is no shortage of intensely interesting and darkly amuzing thought and expression throughout these dics and a proliferation of great British actors.
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on 28 April 2015
This is an expensive but very worthwhile purchase. I would not recommend it to anyone as "entertainment" or for sheer enjoyment: Beckett's plays require hard thought and a rigorous re-examination of one's preconceptions and prejudices to be of any benefit. However, this set provides a permanent record of most of his plays for the stage and is valuable for that reason alone. Whilst live theatre performances might be better, even much better, to watch, I suspect that for most people living outside the capital this is not a realistic prospect for most of the plays. The "how they made it" documentary included in the set does include some criticism of the very fact of filming the plays, for setting the sacred canon in a permanent form and from the perspective of individual firm directors but, as I have said, at least the plays are there in performance for one to watch and I cannot see how the perspective of individual theatre directors is essentially more valid. I would add one final point: if you are going to purchase this product, purchase a copy of the texts of the plays as well.
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on 14 April 2015
A truly amazing piece of cinematic art, it feels like taking the Abbey Theatre home with you and seeing Beckett's characters come to life in a truly unique way in your private space! It was an extraordinary achievement putting the 19 stage pieces onto a TV screen, though one can notice the problematics in doing so, such as the unfortunate artistic sacrifices that had to be made, such as the lack of a spotlight in 'Play' which has been described as the fourth character with the purpose of activating the monotonous babbling of each of the three characters, and without which the play loses its desired effect with the result being that new ways of understanding and interpretation become possible (perhaps it was intended or the producer wasn't fully aware of its importance to Beckett), which may not be necessarily a bad thing since it reveals the ingenious ways in which Beckett made the stage pieces (when one is struck by its absence and how it interrupts the sacred act of dramatic theatre performance) no longer be the mere outside tool of the theatre operating team that one has to try to imagine out of the fictitious world the spectator surrenders himself to, as a visual supplement that has no bearing on the play itself, but as a vital agent, a leading participant in the entire event.

The price however is ridiculous for just for four disks and since DVDs are on the way out the price of these should go down, if it was not for how truly spectacular these productions are it would lose quite a few stars. But Amazon UK are charging far too much, Amazon France are charging 30 pounds less including the cost of shipping from France. For anyone considering buying this I would encourage you to change the domain on the address bar from co.uk to .fr to bag considerable savings vs. the Amazon UK price.
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on 15 April 2013
The DVD package is absolutely meeting my expectations, even more I love the documentary to it, the many many reviews by the directors themselves and their thoughts for making the films of the Beckett stuff. Immediately fell in love with Waiting for Godot and could not wait to see the other films. Great stuff
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VINE VOICEon 14 November 2008
Brilliant Beckett at his best!
Excellent standard in every way.
Thoroughly mind boggling!
The human condition is lurking about somewhere in here..where I don't know
but it's swirling around each piece like a fog .
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on 14 September 2015
I tried watching this lot when it was broadcast on TV and I got hopping furious. Beckett was an artist as well as a playwright and he gave very precise and thorough instructions on how the piece is to look. The directors here ignored these and have indulged in their own views and didn't appear to understand Beckett at all. If they had followed his descriptions exactly I suppose there wouldn't be any need for famous directors.

What I want is the wonderful TV plays that we saw in the 60s and 70s and which Beckett oversaw. In other words the real Beckett on film.
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