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Mourning Becomes Electra

Stellar Bennett , Roberts Blossom , Nick Havinga    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product Description

Product Description

This expressionistic work is Eugene O'Neill's classic American drama of love, revenge, murder and suicide. Set against the backdrop of a small New England town in the post-Civil War era, O'Neill's saga of family discord fueled by psychological undercurrents is from Aeschylus' "The Oresteia." The end result is one of the American theatre's most shattering epic works.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Production of Great Play June 1 2002
Format:DVD
O'Neill doesn't get much representation these days. Staging his plays isn't always practical. This is a really excellent video version of the play that was produced for Connecticut public television. The cast, including Joan Hackett, Roberta Maxwell, Bruce Davison and Jeffrey DeMunn is really excellent. They breathe such natural life into these supertragic, archetypal, and arguably over-Freudian, characters that you really understand why this is a magnificent tragedy and not just some soap opera. The settings are good and the staging takes advantage of the medium with scene transitions that wouldn't have been possible on stage, but would no doubt have gladdened O'Neill's heart, and give further power to his already lavish dramatic design.
Unfortunately, this IS produced for public television, and there is no attempt to hide the fact. The play is presented in a series of "Episodes," with "scenes from last time" and an opening of waves on cliffs that can not fail to remind viewers of the series "Dark Shadows." But the score by Maurice Jarre is perfect and evocative throughout the production. There is
also a clinching review/discussion/commentary at the end of each episode by, for some reason, Erich Segal. I avoided this like the plague.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Production of Great Play June 1 2002
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
O'Neill doesn't get much representation these days. Staging his plays isn't always practical. This is a really excellent video version of the play that was produced for Connecticut public television. The cast, including Joan Hackett, Roberta Maxwell, Bruce Davison and Jeffrey DeMunn is really excellent. They breathe such natural life into these supertragic, archetypal, and arguably over-Freudian, characters that you really understand why this is a magnificent tragedy and not just some soap opera. The settings are good and the staging takes advantage of the medium with scene transitions that wouldn't have been possible on stage, but would no doubt have gladdened O'Neill's heart, and give further power to his already lavish dramatic design.
Unfortunately, this IS produced for public television, and there is no attempt to hide the fact. The play is presented in a series of "Episodes," with "scenes from last time" and an opening of waves on cliffs that can not fail to remind viewers of the series "Dark Shadows." But the score by Maurice Jarre is perfect and evocative throughout the production. There is
also a clinching review/discussion/commentary at the end of each episode by, for some reason, Erich Segal. I avoided this like the plague.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Play March 2 2009
By J.C.W. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I saw this play on PBS years ago. It was one of those stories that just stays with you. After recently seeing "Desire Under the Elms," I once again recalled how impressed I was with the production of "Mourning Becomes Electra" and decided to buy the DVD. Delivery was prompt, the condition of the DVD was excellent, and I thoroughly enjoyed viewing it again. I am so glad to have added this to my small collection of "only the best in entertainment."
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the One to Get Oct. 23 2009
By Allen Rosenberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
IN this old-ish but not dated television version, like the theatre, you must suspend disbelief. I had qualms based on other reviews but first it was this version only that I saw of 'Mourning Becomes El3ectra' when it was week by week fed to the audience.

The power of this drama is not lost. These lives at the fringe are still mirror versions of our deepest selves. Don't miss the experience. My final argument, the shorter version suffer from more cuts of the script.

Off topic, HBO is now dribbling out 'Angels in America'. After seeing 'Mourning...' I can tell you will both plays are dramatic, one is high drama and the other is melodrama.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A House of Utter Grief! April 8 2010
By F. S. L'hoir - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This 1978 production of Eugene O'Neill's "Mourning Becomes Electra," is not to be missed. Inspired by Aeschylus' 5th-century BC "Oresteia" trilogy, O'Neill's tragedy, written in 1931, likewise consists of three dramas: "Homecoming," "The Hunted," and "The Haunted." These have been divided into several episodes on two discs. The production is so well done that I watched it straight through from beginning to end.

The actors, the settings, and the costumes are of such outstanding quality that one soon forgets the annoying colorisation of the era. Joan Hackett, surely one of the underrated actresses of the 20th century, infuses the character of Christine Mannon--the Clytemnestra of the drama--with an understated vulnerability that wins her the understanding, if not the sympathy, of the audience. Roberta Maxwell is Hackett's equal in her role as Christine's warped daughter Lavinia--the Electra surrogate--in whom smolder fires of jealousy against her mother and overwrought love for her father. It is fascinating to see Lavinia gradually evolve into the persona of her hated mother as the play progresses. Eugene O'Neill, in fact, has performed a remarkable reversal on the Aeschylean original, which moves from a situation in which the characters, bound by fate at the beginning of the drama, are eventually released as the plot unfolds. O'Neill's drama works from the opposite perspective. Instead of unfolding, the events of the tragedy spiral in ever-narrowing circles around Lavinia, until she is bound inextricably in a net of her own weaving.

Erich Segal's commentary at the end of each episode is especially enlightening, both in respect to O'Neill as a playwright and his concentration on Electra [Lavinia] whom, Segal notes, O'Neill considered a character that Aeschylus relegated to the sidelines in the "Oresteia". Those who remember Erich Segal only as the author who struck it rich with the Hollywood tearjerker "Love Story," need to be reminded that he had a PhD in Comparative Literature from Harvard and was a professor of Latin and Greek at Yale. He is therefore qualified to present an informed commentary on the play. Despite the rather stilted camera work [i.e., look into camera A; now look into camera B] Segal's comments are both interesting and insightful.

Much effort and money went into this production for Connecticut Public Television, as is evident in the exquisite 1860's costumes and the elegant detail of the interior of the Mannon household. As in Aeschylus' "Agamemnon," the first play of his trilogy, the house itself is central to the tragedy. A Greek revival antebellum structure, its high porch, complete with fluted ionic columns and double doors, becomes a stage for the drama, and the black wreaths of mourning periodically hung on its white walls lend stark emphasis to the tragedy. O'Neill's ending to his trilogy makes Aeschylus' metaphor of the "witnessing walls" devastatingly explicit. Composer Maurice Jarre sets the mood with music which, in its subtle creepiness, is as unlike his opulent melodic scores for "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Doctor Zhivago" as it is possible to be.

Eugene O'Neill's trilogy may be from the previous century, but with the superb realization of his characters as performed by Hackett and Maxwell, it withstands the test of time.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent version, well acted, Memorable1 July 18 2008
By E. Igneri - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I saw this version many years ago. It was really engrossing and well acted. I think this was Joan Hackett's best performance.
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