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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
Twelfth Night [Import]
Format: DVD|Change
Price:$141.31+ $5.00 shipping

on April 27, 2004
The wonderful review by "theviciouscircle" says almost all: this is a rare and beautiful filming of one of Shakespeare's most engaging comedies. Every role is played to perfection -- the entire production shows the cast's and crew's intelligence, deftness, sense of play and extraordinary craft. Every single actor has so embodied his or her part that I will never again see the play without seeing this cast in my mind's eye. Ben Kingsley and Imogen Stubbs stand out even in this exceptional group. The music fits every mood in the play; Shakespeare simply must have heard these tunes when he wrote the verses, and the themes and backgrounds further carry us into the spirit of the play.
The Cornish settings in autumn are almost too beautiful; at times, one almost misses the acting, so spellbinding is the countryside in which it takes place. Trevor Nunn and his crew are much to be praised for finding locales that hold the story so gracefully -- we may know this is Cornwall, but we believe we are transported to Illyria. All in all, it is difficult to imagine a more exquisite realization of a robust yet delicate play. I have long waited to see this film on DVD, and in the widescreen format in which it was made -- how can the studio not release it?
3 people found this helpful
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on March 18, 2004
This film is basically great, because many of the scenes are merry and can make most people titter (which is not bad considering that Shakespeare's humour relies so much on word-play) and of course give you that "warm" feeling.
As for the well-known plot against Malvolio, the pranksters seem to waver between enjoyment and a bad concience for engaging in such an idle or childish activity. Unlike some other reviewers, I can accept the sometimes blank face of Sir Toby, the indifference of Feste and the sternness of Maria, although their behaviour creates an odd feeling, as if they are not really enjoying the revels. Maybe the director is trying to say that Malvolio is not the only "malvolient" character.
This is probably the play that has the best music of all, and Ben Kingsley's singing is good enough. It should not be more schooled than it is because Feste is obviously a street-wise singer.
The director deserves credit for slowing the pace down in the middle of the film. My favorite part is when "O mistress mine" is simultaneously played at the duke's court and sung by Feste elsewhere. Here, the plot finds unity and the many characters become powerfully united.
The best acting performance, if you ask me, is Imogen Stubbs as Viola. She comes across as a real person and somehow manages to show all her conflicting emotions at once. Many of the other characters come across as spirits, half human, which makes sense since they live in "Illyria."
The weaknesses lie in a gaudiness and, perhaps, in a fragmentation into too many clips and scenes. I've actually watched part of the film in black and white and liked it better that way. All music except that which is part of the plot should clearly have been done away with, including the overblown, flowery starting tune which completely drowns (sic) the misery of Viola after the shipwreck. There is no need to tell us at this early stage that it will be a warm and happy movie! A strength in some of Shakespeare's comedies is that they are in danger of ending tragically.
The ending has been criticised before and while I enjoy it and have shed tears over it I partly agree with the criticism. It also suffers a bit from the gaudiness.
Still, I'm very thankful for this movie and I could easily have given it a 5. But since it is Shakespeare my demands go up a notch. The film is good craftmanship and some of its problems are indeed hard to solve: the abundance of characters, the overflow of beauty - what can you really add in that department when there's already so much beauty in Shakespeare's lines?
2 people found this helpful
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on January 22, 2004
When i first watched this movie I fell in love with it! First of all, the Duke Orsino (Toby Stephens) Looks really good in this movie, and second of all.. ITS BASED ON A SHAKESPEARE PLAY! Yet, Even so, the acting in this movie was beautiful. Everyone did a SUPERB job with the making of this film, and I just loved it!
Throughout the whole film it just seemed so passionate. Oh and did I mention there's sword fights? Fist Fights? Actual vengeance? And most of this film stays true to the actual Shakespearean play. This is such a good movie, I'm not going to give any of it away, you all have to see it for yourselves! TRUST ME... GREAT MOVIE! If you like the play, You'll LOVE the movie.. REVENGE IS SWEET in TWELFTH NIGHT!
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on December 26, 2003
This play was spectacular. The acting was suberb. Helena Bonhom-Carter's perfromance as Olivia, Ben Kingsley's performance as Feste, and Mel Smith's hilarious performance of Sir Toby *Belch*:) were especially good. I had seen Helena Bonhom-Carter in Hamlet as Ophelia, but her role as Olivia surpassed even that. It was boring the first half-hour, and I didn't want to finish it, but I kept watching and loved it. Bwn Kingsley's singing especially was fantastic, and, although they modernized it about two hundred years, it really worked, especially when Orsiono's soldiers were chasing Antonio through the streets, shooting at him with their rifles. And the fight between Viola and Sir Andrew Aguecheek was hilarious. However, the events surrounding Malvolio's imprisonment were supposed to be comical, as was his release from prison. However, they made it seem malicious, which I didn't take to very well. ALl in all, though, it was a great movie, and an excellent adaptation of a classic play, and I heartily recommend that you see it.
When that I was and a little tiny boy
With hey ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.
But when I came to man's estate
With hey ho, the wind and the rain,
'Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gates
For the rain it raineth every day.
But when I came, alas, to wive
With hey ho, the wind and the rain,
By swaggering could I never thrive
For the rain it raineth every day.
But when I came unto my beds
With hey ho, the wind and the rain,
With tosspots still had drunken heads
For the rain it raineth every day.
A while ago the world begun
With hey ho, the wind and the rain.
But that's all one, our play is done,
And we'll strive to please you every day.
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on December 25, 2003
This is a very tolerable incarnation of Shakespeare's most well-known comedies.
It was rather boring for around the first half an hour, but then it started getting funny. Some of the characters aren't quite what they are like in the play, but it doesn't really hurt it at all.
The acting quality ranges from descent to good, and I think Helena Bonham Carter did a splended job as Olivia.
The timeframe was put forewards around 200 years, but it didn't hurt any.
Overall, I think that it is a good production and worth seeing.
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on November 30, 2003
I was greatly disappointed by this, Trevor Nunn's attempt at a film of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, or What You Will. If you are a true Shakespeare fan, you probably will feel the same. The acting is certainly a treat, especially during scenes with Imogen Stubbs and Toby Stephens playing off of each other as Viola and Orsino respectively, Mel Smith as Sir Toby under the influence, the hilarious facial expressions of Ben Kingsley as Feste, and the always-wonderful Helena Bonham Carter as the ornery Lady Olivia. However, in he area of comedy, this film falls tragically short. Scenes and characters of great comic potential are made into deep dark messes. This is most painfully obvious in the character of Maria, a maid in Olivia's household who is quite taken by Sir Toby. What should be a saucy and strong character is reduced to a mushy and gushy ball of tears, suffering from her unrequited love for Toby, something that Nunn foolishly created (the original play called for an affair between the maid and the noblman). In another instance, the imprisonment of Malvolio, written by Shakespeare to be a comedic event, is shown here to be something sinister. Luckily, enough of the comedy is preserved to make it tolerable. See it to get an idea of the story, but not if Twelfth Night is a story you already know and love.
4 people found this helpful
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on November 13, 2003
This is a lovely movie, but the dialogue is so fast (true to the play, but fast) that you really won't appreciate it fully unless you already know what is going on. So read the play first, then enjoy this movie!
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on November 11, 2003
I have to admit I was long overdue in watching this video. As a student, Shakespeare has not always been my cup of tea,(save for Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream) maybe because of the old English which I'm not used to at all in my part of the world. Anyway, this Twelfth Night movie actually made me realise that Shakespeare's works may not be such a bore after all.
Director Trevor Nunn has done an excellent job of adapting this play into a movie. Twelfth Night has everything I love in a movie: Great actors and actresses (especially Imogen Stubbs, Helena Bonham Carter and Ben Kingsley), a wonderful setting, lots of funny and witty moments as well as the melodious singing of Feste (Ben Kingsley). I believe that just by reading the play alone, you would never be able to feel the tenderness of the songs, nor the poignant moments between the characters. However, Twelfth Night the movie has successfully captured all the elements present in the play itself and I have to admit, it has blown me away!
All in all, this is an excellent movie and I bet that you, like me, will definitely feel the same way after watching Twelfth Night. Enjoy!
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on June 6, 2003
Trevor Nunn's Twelfth Night sits up on the same pedestal as Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing. Not a suprise, either, given that both films came out of Branagh's Renaissance Films. Reset in the Victorian era, Nunn maintains the delicate balance of comedy and drama (much like Much Ado), carried out in one amazing cast. Nunn does a wonderful job of keeping most of Shakespeare's comedy in-tact, editing only when neccessary to appease a film audience (most noticeable in Viola's famous "I left no ring with her" monologue being broken up throughout the film).
No member disappoints and each one excels in their own right. Helena Bonham Carter, queen of period films, plays an astounding Olivia with excellent timing. Imogen Stubbs, whom I've only seen play a small role in Sense and Sensibility, exceeds all expectations set for her in the role of Viola. And Ben Kingsley (yes, Ghandi), reminds us of his Royal Shakespeare Company roots as a multi-dimensional Feste.
The score, unhappily available on CD (albeit Kingley's "The Wind and the Rain" is available on the CD collection "If Music Be the Food of Love: Shakespeare at the Movies"), is breathtaking and well-done, particularly for a play that includes so much music as a stage performance. It corrolates perfectly with the lush settings (often involving romantic sea-scapes and Victorian manor houses) and costumes.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment about this film is that it's not available on DVD. However, it alone is reason enough for me to keep my VCR.
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on April 6, 2003
This is one of the most imaginative interpretations of Shakespeare (or perhaps anything) I've ever seen. Although I have read the play numerous times, I never would have thought of doing it this way. The story was fleshed out even more than Shakespeare did to begin with, and was made to seem modern and old-fashioned all at the same time. Director Trevor Nunn did a wonderful job with this film (but of course he also formed the Royal Shakespeare Company, so what else would one expect?) :-)
Although each member of the cast does a great job, a few must be mentioned individually. Imogen Stubbs proves to have an amazing amount of talent and versatility in the complicated role of Viola/Cesario. Nigel Hawthorne is terrific as Malvolio, particularly in one hilarious moment where he tries to smile - something at which he is not too practised. Helena Bonham Carter makes a very appealing Olivia. Ben Kingsley is absolutely wonderful, and extremely expressive, as Feste the fool.
TWELFTH NIGHT is a film that is definitely worth watching over and over.
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