Here's news about high-definition video recordings of opera, ballet, classical music, plays, fine-art documentaries, and paintings. I call these recordings "HDVDs." In the journal below are independent (and hard-to-find critical) reports on hundreds of HDVDs. Pick the best titles for your excelsisphere.

October 15. We are getting again into symphony titles and the existential issue of DVDitis. I just posted a story on a Mahler 2 recording at the Gewandhaus that might be considered DOA from the dread plague.

I recently put up a story about the 3rd version (!) of the same Giselle production published by Opus Arte. I recently posted a story about the Ekman Midsummer Night's Dream ballet (which has nothing to do with Shakespeare). I also just posted two stories about Shakespeare's The Tempest. The first is a definitive stage play version by the RSC. The second is an updated review of The Tempest movie staring Helen Mirren as Prospera (the female version of Prospero). The movie is streamlined - try it first. Then move on to the RSC "real deal", which is probably the best The Tempest ever made for home viewing.

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Entries in Fox (1)

Wednesday
Sep142011

Romeo and Juliet  

Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet play in movie version directed by Baz Luhrmann. The film originally came out in 1996; this HDVD was released in 2010. Stars Leonoardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, Brian Dennehy, John Leguizamo, Pete Postlethwaite, Paul Sorvino, and Diane Venora. This is the version sold in the United States. The English soundtrack is in 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. There are numerous movie-style extras like audio commentary by the director. Title also has dubbed soundtracks in Spanish (5.1 Dolby Digital), Portuguese (5.1 Dolby Digital), and French (5.1 Dolby Stereo). Also has subtitles in English for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, and Norwegian. Fox has published the title in different versions for sale in England, Germany, France, Italy, and Spanish-speaking countries, some with an astonishing array of subtitles. For example, as best we can tell without importing the disc, the French language version has subtitles in French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish, Czech, Arabic, Chinese, Polish, Romanian, English, Russian, Serbian, and Slovak!   Grade: C+

Baz Luhrmann directed a highly-respected, mildly-updated movie version of La Bohème that showed for years on public television stations in the United States. So we had to at least try his hispanic-gang-war movie based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet play. Worse flicks have been made. I watched it twice and found quite a bit of it amusing. And except for  popular music added with actual lyrics, I think all the words are pretty much straight out of Shakespeare's text---except that is---for the cuts, which are wholesale and ubiquitous. I didn't have the energy to start counting, but I roughly estimate that only, say, 15% of Shakespeare's text is in the script. By cherry-picking the easy lines and dropping almost all of the hard stuff, the language of the characters, while impossibly eloquent, no longer sounds 400 years old and has a kind of strange charm. But is this a fine-art show, or literature, or Shakespeare?  We exclude titles for bad PQ and SQ. Why not exclude this for lack of content?  Well, I think that's outside my jurisdiction. The picture and sound are HDVD. Fox probably has done just about everything reasonably possible to make this accessible to a large international audience. So you, dear reader, have to decide if it's art. But I've done my due diligence, so you can't sue me. A'll  call it "C+". Let us know what you think about discussing this show on this website.

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