David Hugh Jones – Betrayal (1983)

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The film version of what is widely regarded as one of Nobel Prizewinner Harold Pinter’s greatest plays. Betrayal traces a seven year affair played out in reverse – from its poignant end to its illicit first kiss. This version is from it’s first British TV screening and is upped to celebrate 50 years of Harold Pinter plays. In 1958 Harold Pinter wrote the following:
“There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.” The film is little more than the stage play on celluloid and has great performances from Ben Kingsley, Patricia Hodge and Jeremy Irons. The silence after the opening credits is intentional. Continue reading

David Hugh Jones – The Merry Wives of Windsor (1982)

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Making its debut with Romeo and Juliet on 3 December 1978, and concluding nearly seven years later with Titus Andronicus on 27 April 1985, the BBC Television Shakespeare project was the single most ambitious attempt at bringing the Bard of Avon to the small screen, both at the time and to date.

Producer Cedric Messina was already an experienced producer of one-off television Shakespeare presentations, and was thus ideally qualified to present the BBC with a daunting but nonetheless enticingly simple proposition: a series of adaptations, staged specifically for television, of all 36 First Folio plays, plus Pericles (The Two Noble Kinsmen was considered primarily John Fletcher’s work, and the legitimacy of Edward III was still being debated).

The scale of Messina’s proposal, far greater than that of previous multi-part Shakespeare series such as An Age of Kings (BBC, 1960) and Spread of the Eagle (BBC, 1963), required an American partner in order to guarantee access to the US market, deemed essential for the series to recoup its costs. Time-Life Television agreed to participate, but under certain controversial conditions – that the productions be traditional interpretations of the plays in appropriately Shakespearean period costumes and sets, designed to fit a two-and-a-half-hour time slot. Continue reading