Titles by Category

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

Feb 11.  Finally we have a good grade (A-) to brag about for the new Don Quixote from the Vienna State Ballet.  Recently we posted a F+ grade for the new C Major Bruckner Symphony 3 and an F- grade for that C Major Mahler S1-10 Box performed by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. How can a major publishing house turn out something that gets an F-?

We recently posted more than you wanted to know about that Brahms Cycle Box from Belvedere. Now you can buy the 3 discs in the box independently. We bunched the 4 different deals together near the top of the Journal.

We just updated our manifesto about the best ballet and dance videos.


Entries in Miramax (1)


The Tempest

Shakespeare The Tempest motion picture. Juli Taymor wrote the screen play, produced, and directed this film seen in theaters in 2010. Stars Helen Mirren (Prospera), Russell Brand (Trinculo), Reeve Carney (Ferdinand), Tom Conti (Gonzalo), Chris Cooper (Antonio), Alan Cumming (Sebastian), Djimon Hounsou (Caliban), Felicity Jones (Miranda), Alfred Molina (Stephano), David Strathairn (Alonso), and Ben Whishaw (Ariel). Music by Elliot Goldenthal; costumes by Sandy Powell; cinematography by Stuart Dryburgh; editing by Françoise Bonnot. As is often the case with movie discs, this title includes interesting extras about the making of the film. Released 2011, disc has 5.1 Dolby Digital sound.  Grade: B+

William Shakespeare and Harry Potter spent a night in a tavern drinking mead. They decided to change the Prospero in The Tempest to Prospera. To help modern viewers with shrink-wrapped imaginations, they added lots of computer-generated special effects. The result is a beautiful film with excellent acting and impressive productions values shot in a striking Hawaiian landscape. The sex-change operation isn't as significant as you might think. In addition to the changes, about 20% of Shakespeare's text is cut to get rid of obscure passages and tighten up the movie. People who don't know the play can probably follow this version quite well and find it entertaining. True, the result shows how hard it is even with clever, modern resources to render in high-definition images the power of suggestion of poetry. But on the other hand, we have no confirmed intelligence that any viewer (snob or not) has been harmed by this movie.

In my 3000-page complete Shakespeare Plays, annotator A.L. Rowse states in his critical introduction to The Tempest, "To do [many scenes in the play] justice---perhaps to realize the play as a whole---one needs the resources of film." The introduction of Prospera shows just what cinema can do compared to a stage play:

Wild angle shots aren't all cinema can do though; close ups are used as well:

Below is an example of visual effects used in the film with Ariel attacking the ship:

And next below is we see Alonso and his cohort emerge from the water---hard to put an ocean on a stage:

More visual trickery as Prospera interacts with an ethereal Ariel:

Prospera and Miranda above, Caliban below:

Next are two shots of the comedy trio of Stephano, Trinculo, and Caliban:

Rich warm brown tones and lush greens show the variety of scenery the film uses:


Click to read more ...