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Ian McKellen , Judi Dench , Philip Casson    Unrated   VHS Tape
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

Two internationally acclaimed stars of screen and stage join forces to capture the powerful essence of one of Shakespeare's greatest plays, Macbeth.

Sir Ian McKellen (Gods and Monsters) and Academy Award winner Dame Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love) shared the stage in 1976 in Stratford-Upon-Avon's intimate "The Other Place" theatre. Here, in this smallest of Royal Shakespeare Company spaces, one of the finest theatrical directors of our time, Trevor Nunn (1996: Twelfth Night: Or What You Will) created a definitive production of Macbeth. An unforgettable experience for those who witnessed it, now this lost theatrical treasure is available for the first time on video, perfectly captured in all its murderous magnificence.

In this compelling production, McKellen and Dench are joined by an outstanding cast of Royal Shakespeare Company members that include Ian McDiarmid (Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace, Bob Peck (Jurassic Park), Roger Rees (A Midsummer Night's Dream), and John Woodvine (Persuasion).

The director, Trevor Nunn, was the youngest ever Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, which he ran until 1986. He has received the Tony Award for Best Director of a play or musical for his acclaimed production of Nicholas Nickleby, Cats, and Les Miserables. From the Three Witches until "Birnam Wood do come to Dunisane", this outstanding production of Macbeth commands attention from bloody opening to bloody finish.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Could Macbeth get a 5? May 2 2004
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Sir Ian McKellen is the best Macbeth I have ever seen; Dame Judy Dench is by far the best Lady Macbeth, and what a regal treat when the best of the best happen to appear in the same play at the same time?
Macbeth is a Shakespearean tale about a tragic flaw in the main characters. How far is man--and woman--willing to go for ambition?
Sir Ian depicts the deconstruction of Macbeth's mind and character probably the way Shakespeare imagined it. Dame Judy is magnificent with the spots--until her own light goes out!
The witches are scary--translated into our modern world--and adding to their power. They are macabre, indeed.
The whole cast is in tune with Macbeth and the task at hand.
For anyone interested in Macbeth and the theater, there is no equal to this production. If you are going to see Macbeth, expose yourself to the best. It will increase your joy and love for the theater and Shakespeare.
If you teach Macbeth, this version will make your job easier and will augment the chances of gaining converts from your young students.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Judi Dench is superb! Sept. 22 2009
I have to admit that I used to find more minimalist productions of shakespeare to be kind of dull. This production of Macbeth completely altered my attitude on that! The minimalist set helps the viewer focus on the acting and the language which in this play is superbly haunting. I expected Ian Mckellen to steal the show. He was great, but I actually found Judi Dench's performance to be the most persuasive. Her tortured descent into madness is agonizing (in a good way) to watch. I liked that the film didn't show us visual depictions of the dagger or Banquo's ghost. That allowed us to use our own imagination, making it creepier. This is a fantastic film for fans of shakespeare or those who enjoy thrilling psychological depictions of man's capacity for evil.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A True Shakespeare Play! Aug. 10 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Warning -- if you expect to see Macbeth in a realistic settings similiar to the recent Othello and Hamlet, you'll be disappointed. This play takes place on a stage.
However, the film adheres very closely to the written play. This film is instrumental to learning the play for a class.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is this a dagger...? Dec 22 2000
Format:VHS Tape
In this minimalist set probably not. Trevor Nunn's adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth features a fantastic (young) cast led by Ian McKellan, and concentrates more on the psychological instead of the physical. With a nearly bare stage and missing characters (Ghost of Banquo), the audience must rely on the acting to understand what is happening within the play. With a little imagination the viewer can see two shows what is physically there and the more elaborate version in his mind.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
I didn't like the idea that there were no props. No stage sets. No real lighting effects to speak of. No good costume work. This movie reading of Macbeth takes place in a dark room, where the actors say their lines to each other, and sometimes, just by themselves.
That's all fine and good if you already intimately know this play. But even though I have read it countless times, I couldn't even sit through this entire production. I was very disappointed in it, especially after seeing who the actors were. Part of the magick in performing a play onstage is the use of props, lighting, interaction, costuming, etc., to engage the audiences imagination.
This seemed to be to be a read aloud, book-on-tape style production. Yes, the recitation of the lines was well-done. But there was nothing else to compel me to finish it. I can read it myself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An oldie, but a goodie... July 14 2010
By Maxisback TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a fabulous staging of "the Scottish play." All the cast members are the original actors who performed Macbeth in a tiny London theatre. What an ensemble of terrific actors!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sanity Erupted Feb. 1 2004
Format:VHS Tape
This version of Macbeth, which is a triumph I must add, made me very pleased to watch it. And although there is no real set, but a circle surrounded by rocks, this film was very emotional. It does not use much gore in it to show that it is a horror film. This version of Macbeth shows Ian McKellen, the man who portrayed Gandalkf in The Lord of The Rings, at his best in this shakespearian work. It does not even show Macbeth's head at the end, yet this work has all of the wit, horror, and cleverness to be declared a shakespearian treasure.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Potential of Shakespeare Realized July 21 2003
Format:VHS Tape
Without question, this version of Macbeth featuring two of the finest actors to speak dialogue is one of the most compelling, chillingly stark renderings of the bard's bloody drama ever captured on film. An actual staged production, the Trevor Nunn film posits the Macbeth world in a land of black shadows broken occasionally by the luminescent faces of the poor souls who populate that world. The characters come from darkness and they return there. In envisioning the play this way, Nunn emphasizes the sad vulnerability of human beings who must act out their little roles only to vanish in the great swallowing mystery of time and eternity.
Ian McKellen's Macbeth is one of those tortured souls: a real human being riddled with arrogance and aspirations but at the same time tormented by morality and fear. McKellen's performance is not of a monster but of a human being teetering on the brink of good and evil. Once he loses his delicate balance, McKellen's Macbeth becomes cold and statuary, a soul realizing its own destruction, its own sinking into the great gulf of blood it has spilled. McKellen manages to capture Shakespeare's vision of a Macbeth who is always self-aware, always conscious of his own evil and its consequences.
Judi Dench's Lady Macbeth makes a similar transformation, except in her journey, she moves from cold, malevolent she-devil to sadly broken, guilt-ridden madwoman. Dench's performance is the show's dramatic star, its center, its barometer for guilt and its exacting consequences. The sleep walking scene is one of the finest depictions of guilt and human culpability one is likely ever to see performed and reason enough to award this production five stars.
Both McKellen and Dench humanize their characters, never letting them slip into the extremes of monsterdom.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Potential of Shakespeare Realized
Without question, this version of Macbeth featuring two of the finest actors to speak dialogue is one of the most compelling, chillingly stark renderings of the bard's bloody drama... Read more
Published on July 21 2003 by Scott Richburg
5.0 out of 5 stars The Potential of Shakespeare Realized
Without question, this version of Macbeth featuring two of the finest actors to speak dialogue is one of the most compelling, chillingly stark renderings of the bard's bloody drama... Read more
Published on July 21 2003 by Scott Richburg
4.0 out of 5 stars McKellen and Dench are outstanding...
I purchased this tape after it was featured in an interview with Ian McKellen on Inside the Actor's Studio and I decided I had to have it for my collection. Read more
Published on Dec 29 2002 by Sandra Robertson
5.0 out of 5 stars a stellar cast
Staged for a very small theater in 1976, director Trevor Nunn gives us an exceptionally bleak production in shades of black, grey, sepia, and the occasional red of spilled... Read more
Published on April 12 2002 by Alejandra Vernon
4.0 out of 5 stars Imperfect But Beautiful
Not everyone will appreciate this version of Shakespeare's play about "vaulting ambition that o'erleaps itself." Many people will find watching it very trying. Read more
Published on April 7 2002 by Kevin L. Nenstiel
5.0 out of 5 stars superb acting
This is a Royal Shakespeare Co. production made for television. There are virtually no sets, few props, and only one fancy costume--Macbeth's royal robe when he is crowned king. Read more
Published on Sept. 23 2001
2.0 out of 5 stars TOO DARK AND MOODY FOR ME!
I think that Ian McKellen and Judy Dench are two of the greatest people working in the film today. McKellen turned in a rather Shakespeare-esque performance as Magneto in X-MEN,... Read more
Published on Sept. 20 2001 by Steven Hancock
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