Orson Welles – The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice (1952)

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Want to be daring? Try watching Othello without the sound. The assembly of magnificent compositions that Welles has put together for his Othello is nothing short of astounding. Welles finds angles where they never existed before and extracts from the text, so elegant in word, a visual power unmatched by other Shakespearean movies. The heritage from Citizen Kane to Touch of Evil is evident in this stylistic tour-de-force.

Welles is an imposing Othello. Painted with shadows and light, Welles moves regally through the castle sets and strides powerfully along the beach or atop the ramparts. As Iago, Michael Mac Liammoir, the Irish stage actor, is quite creepy. His vast stage experience perhaps affects his performance in front of the camera too much, but the result is highly effective under Welles’ guiding camera and brilliant editing. Continue reading

William Shakespeare – The Complete Arkangel Shakespeare – 38 plays (2003)

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The Complete Arkangel Shakespeare: 38 Fully-Dramatized Plays by William Shakespeare (Author), Eileen Atkins (Narrator), Joseph Fiennes (Narrator), Sir John Gielgud (Narrator), Emily Woof (Narrator)

The Complete Shakespeare for the 21st Century . This release is of major importance: for the first time all of Shakespeare’s plays are available on CD in a single set, produced by a single creative team with an extraordinary cast, with the utmost attention to detail to guarantee a listening experience that’s accessible and enjoyable.

Arkangel Productions brings together the best of academic and entertainment industry expertise. Tom Treadwell, a university professor who specialized in Elizabethan drama, and Bill Shepherd from the world of film and TV production, worked with Clive Brill, a former BBC director/producer, to make their vision a reality. Their goal was, simply, to produce Shakespeare for the 21st Century , the definitive, ultimate audio Shakespeare. This is it – they have achieved their goal.

The creative team designed a sophisticated layering of sound and music to provide a complete audio environment. Music was composed by Dominique Le Gendre, whose award-winning talents matched the art of the performers. All the plays were recorded at one of London?s leading studios. The Sound House. 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

Sergei Yutkevich – Otello (1955)

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İmdb Author: eva25at from Vienna, Austria:
This smart and colorful version of the bard’s play about the green eyed monster jealousy is popular entertainment: it runs like an Errol-Flynn-swashbuckler. Curly-head Desdemona looks like a (ripe) Hollywood starlet and Emilia is equally attractive. Sergei Bondarchuk’s performance remains astonishingly fresh. He is a handsome, commanding presence with a boyish naivity: easy to dupe, but very sexy. Andrei Popov is equally superb as Don Juan like Iago, a fiery-eyed rooster. This film anticipates even the daring relationship of the Laurence Fishburne/ Kenneth Branagh version: In one scene Bondarchuk & Popov coo like turtle-doves. Laurence Olivier’s (now politically incorrect) Othello and Kenneth Branagh’s genial Iago may be unsurpassed, but this soviet version is more entertaining than the moth-eaten Orson Welles film and definitely more intelligent than the Zeffirelli film. Yutkevich won the director award in Cannes! Continue reading

John Gorrie – The Tempest (1980)

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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). Continue reading

Edwin Sherin – King Lear (1974)

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This historic 1974 recording of King Lear brings to audiences today both a great production of Shakespeare’s classic, but also a performance of towering brilliance from the formidable James Earl Jones. This recording, made at Joseph Papp’s legendary open air New York Shakespeare Festival, also captures the brilliant performances from the late Raul Julia, alongside a great cast that includes Paul Sovrino, Ellen Holly, Rosalind Cash, and Lee Chamberlain. Continue reading