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Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood (Special Collector's Edition) [Import]

Richard Burton , Elizabeth Taylor , Andrew Sinclair    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   DVD
2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 16.36 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood (Special Collector's Edition) [Import] + A Child's Christmas in Wales / Noël au pays de Galles (Bilingual)
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Under Milk Wood is an imaginative, cinematic rendering of Dylan Thomas's famous "play for voices," typically read on stage by a handful of actors expressing the dialogue of more than 50 characters living in a small, Welsh fishing village. Filmmaker Andrew Sinclair sets the story in a real seaside community and visually complements the text's lengthy, opening narration by enlisting Richard Burton both for his brooding voiceover and a mysterious, on-screen role as a drunken gadabout soaking in the very soul of the town Thomas' words describe. Once the narration ends, the film breathes freely with a succession of lively vignettes, some funny, some dramatic, but all rooted in the peculiar circumstances of characters who either feel trapped by or ensconced in their home. Peter O'Toole plays the wizened, blind Captain Cat, haunted by memories of drowned sailors but so attuned to the sounds of village life outside his window he can identify the children screaming in a park. Elizabeth Taylor (Burton's wife at the time) makes a brief appearance as Rosie Probert, and the other players include Glynis Johns, Vivien Merchant, and Victor Spinetti. --Tom Keogh

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Why take a gem May 5 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
and ""remaster it" into an over coloured , lurid Hollywoodish version?

I had memories of a hauntingly nuanced black and white film. Wish we could have that one back.

This one, no thanks. Better than nothing, I suppose, and the feature additions after are good.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Our Town Jan. 19 2007
By H. F. Corbin - Published on Amazon.com
This film adaptation of Dylan Thomas' wonderful "Under Milkwood" has dozens of characters, the most famous of whom are Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Peter O'Toole-- one of the problems with this production. There are simply too many characters to keep up with. The other problem is that the Welsh accents are difficult to understand. The play works better when performed on stage with a few characters reading several parts. On the other hand, the photography of the village and seacost is beautiful beyond words. And speaking of words, hearing Thomas' alliterative plumy language makes up for whatever failings this film may have otherwise: "the dawn inches up," "the tidy wives," and the village at night described as "a hill of windows," etc., will make your heart leap up. Mr. Burton's delivery of the long narrative passages is not to be missed.

The CD has a short interview with Mr. Burton and a longer biography of Dylan Thomas, constructed in most part from his beautiful poems. Both inclusions are an added bonus.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dylan Thomas Near-Miss Dec 29 2011
By John Gough - Published on Amazon.com
I have been reading Dylan Thomas, poems, stories, recollections, and "Under Milkwood" since I was a teenager, in the mid-1960s. ("Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog", and "A Child's Christmas in Wales" are outstanding, as poetic prose.)
I saw this film when it was first released in Australia, and half-liked it.
I watched it again, nearly forty years later, last night.
It is more likeable, in my old age, but, like the parson's egg (alluding to a classic cartoon-image in the British magazine "Punch") it is good in parts, and other parts are less than good.
Richard Burton speaks one of the narrating Voices, as voice-over.
He does this superbly, as he should, having been one of the first to do so in the original BBC Radio version, which is available, at least a a vinyl LP.
Burton personally knew Dylan Thomas!
Sadly, Burton appears, almost-silently on screen, as a strolling player, accompanied by a non-speaking chum: the two look as if they had wandered in from a production of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting For Godot". (Bewildered and desperate men in drab brown overcoats.)
Later he and his chum encounter "Norma Jean", a totally spurious addition to Dylan Thomas's actual radio play, and take turns to physically enjoy the pretty young woman in a dirty wood shed. What was the film director or screen-play writer dreaming of, by adding this?
The second narrating Voice of the original radio play seems to be omitted, amongst the obvious voice-overs that are the main soundtrack of the film. Again, why? Especially as the film does include Burton and side-kick, wandering through the seaside village of Llarerggub -- why not have the side-kick add a different vocal slant to Burton's rich voice?
The third main narrating voice is that of the now-blind old sea-captain, played here by Peter O'Toole, as old, blind man, and, in flash-back, as young man. The object of his old-man's memories, and young-man's lusts and loves is Rosie Probert, acted by Elizabeth Taylor -- whore with a heart of gold, obviously, and a taste for garish and massive eye-shadow (out of "Cleopatra"?).
The "story" is one day in the small Welsh sea-town and its gentle, eccentric townsfolk: from a night full of dreams, through waking daylight, to the small town falling asleep again.
It is the variety of characters, their dreams, secret hopes and passions, and living interactions, that "tell" the "story".
Here we can be thankful for, usually, good casting. Dylan Thomas was a passionate Anglo-Welsh speaker, with a vivid ear for poetic sound and voice. Most of the actors catch the sound of his radio script, and make it live, on screen, individualising the many characters.
Most of the actors also capture a convincing appearance of what Dylan Thomas might have imagined.
The school children certainly look like early 1950s children.
But not all look good.
Organ Morgan, for example, LOOKS awful, as a lunatic-like red-haired man obsessed with playing a church organ. But it is obvious that he means well, in his acting, even though he can't actually play the organ.
Glynis Johns ("Mrs Banks" in "Mary Poppins", amongst many sparkling film roles) is a sparkling Myfanwy Price, the love-object of Mog Edwards, the town draper.
Mae Rose Cottage, seventeen and never been kissed (ho ho), is a beautiful young girl, and when she says in the radio play that she intends to sin until she bursts, in the film we see her draw lip-stick circles around her bare tender nipples: you can't do THAT on radio! (The film does this very convincingly.)
No-Good Boyo (up to no good) is acted by a young David Jason (famous later for TV comedies such as "Only Fools and Horses" and "The Darling Buds of May", and the great police dramas of "Inspector Frost"). We do not actually see him masturbating, but the film suggests this is part of his no-good-ness: again, you can't do THAT on radio, and maybe it need not be on film, anyway. His Huck-Finn-like waywardness, hinted at in the radio play, is clear enough, even in his amusing name. WHAT he does that is no-good can be left UNSAID, and UNSEEN.
Importantly, the village, and its surrounds, are beautifully pictured.
(Fishguard is the name of the film location. Captain Cat is shown living in a strange house whose upper storey is shapped like a ship's hull!)
Oddly, and infuriatingly, aspects of the narration (especially the DARKNESS of the night) are CONTRADICTED by the daylight-brightness of what we are looking at in the film while we hear dark-night words.
The "anthracite" horses are hardly jet-black, hard-coal black, for example -- and the famous sloe-black, slow black sea is not black either. How many people know what a "sloe" looks like? (A deeply dark blackish plum-likme fruit. Used, traditionally, to make a home-made wine called "sloe gin". This play, and film, cries out for a Glossary, or helpful FOOTNOTES!)
This is an abbreviated, and creatively (questionably, sometimes) decorated version of the full-length radio play.
Importantly, as with the great BBC Radio Long-Playing vinyl recording, whatever the spoken accents of viewers, in different English-language eccented places around the world, THIS film captures HOW the characters of Dylan Thomas ACTUALLY would SOUND! If the many Welsh accents are hard to understand for some viewers, this must be accepted as how it is, just as Cockney speakers must accept the way John Wayne sounds, or a shucks-you-awl way-down-south-speaker must accept Katherine Hepburn's or Carey Grant's accent.
As a film, it has flaws.
But it is, ultimately, intended as a sincere homage to the original, and to a great poetic writer.
John Gough -- jagough49@gmail.com
26 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bad idea well executed. July 5 2005
By BAW - Published on Amazon.com
I own this on videotape, but will not, probably, be getting the DVD.

UNDER MILKWOOD is a play for voices, originially written for radio, and frequently done as a readers' theater piece by college and community groups. (By doubling parts one can do it with a fairly small cast, and the constumes, scenery, and props are minimal.)

Why then, would one even consider doing it as a film, that most visual of media? A videorecording of a proper readers' theater production might have some pedagogical value, but it would be a rather dull film considered as film. But this shoehorning it into a full cinematic treatment was totally wrongheaded from the beginning.

I'm giving it three stars only because of the cast; they were all very talented people and obviously were doing the best they could under the circumstances. The only exception was Elizabeth Taylor, and that wasn't really her fault; (a) so much of her part was cut that one couldn't really get a valid impression of her conception of Mrs. Probert and (b) she was miscast--but she probably would have been even worse miscast as any of the other female parts! As it was, it was obvious that she was really trying hard, but had too much going against her.

As for the cuts--and there were many--why, if they were so pressed for time that they had to cut so much, did they introduce that totally unnecessary and gratuitous 'Norma Jean' interlude?

Don't waste your money; get a proper, audio version.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything I Imagined Under Milk Wood to be! Jan. 16 2011
By P. Monether - Published on Amazon.com
I read Under Milk Wood as a schoolboy in England about 45 years ago, and I suppose the images started there - shaped by the lyrical beauty of Dylan Thomas's writing, and drawing somewhat on my part-Welsh heritage and many holidays in Wales, north and south. Over time, the mental images of the characters and settings evolved, but I never saw this film version until very recently. I was totally spellbound for the entire duration! It perfectly matches what I had imagined, and the performances by stars and supporting actors and actresses alike are quintessentially and poignantly Welsh. It's a shame that the Welsh accent and multitudinous characters aren't to everyone's liking, but surely that's part of the charm, and a major reason to go back and watch this little masterpiece over and over. Thanks to my younger bro for sending it to me!
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Under Milk Wood March 1 2006
By Swansea Boy - Published on Amazon.com
The 'bonus' material (the biography) was very interesting and a welcomed addition.

The 'movie' itself was generally very well done - I had only ever seen Thomas' work 'acted' out once - on stage. It is, of course, a 'play for words' and therein lies its strength. The portrayed actions were (in my humble opinion) conducted in a manner that aided the presentation of Thomas' masterpiece. However, there were a couple of 'director interpretations' that I did not like, or that I felt were not adequately expressed:

1. The scene with Burton, his 'lady friend' and side-kick, in the barn seemed tasteless and unnecessary - it does even NOT exist in Thomas' writings.

2. The 'ych-y-fy' repetitions were excessive - becoming annoying.

3. He totally missed (portrayal of) the obvious fiscal solicitations during the 'crytal ball readings'.
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