Motion Picture

Titus

Titus motion picture based on the Shakespeare play Titus Andronicus. Directed 1999 by Julie Taymor. Stars Anthony Hopkins (Titus Andronicus), Jessica Lange (Tamora), Alan Cumming (Saturninus), Colm Feore (Marcus Andronicus), James Frain (Bassianus), Laura Fraser (Lavinia), Harry Lennix (Aaron), Angus Macfadyen (Lucius), Osheen Jones (young Lucius), Matthew Rhys (Demetrius), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (Chiron), Kenny Doughty (Quintus), Colin Wells (Martius), Blake Ritson (Mutius), Raz Degan (Alarbus), and Geraldine McEwan (Nurse).

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Hamlet

Shakespeare Hamlet play. Kenneth Branagh directed this motion picture in 1996 in widescreen 70mm. It was released in Blu-ray in 2010, and it still looks wonderful in 2017. Stars Riz Abbasi (Attendant to Claudius), Richard Attenborough (English Ambassador), David Blair (Attendant to Claudius), Brian Blessed (Ghost of Hamlet's Father), Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet), Richard Briers (Polonius), Michael Bryant (Priest), Peter Bygott (Attendant to Claudius), Julie Christie (Gertrude), Billy Crystal (First Gravedigger), Charles Daish (Stage Manager), Judi Dench (Hecuba), Gérard Depardieu (Reynaldo), Reece Dinsdale (Guildenstern), Ken Dodd (Yorick), Angela Douglas (Attendant to Gertrude), Rob Edwards (Lucianus), Nicholas Farrell (Horatio), Ray Fearon (Fracisco), Yvonne Gidden (Doctor), John Gielgud (Priam), Rosemary Harris (Player Queen), Charlton Heston (Player King), Ravil Isyanov (Cornelius), Derek Jacobi (Claudius), Rowena King (Attendant to Gertrude), Jeffery Kissoon (Fortinbras's Captain), Sarah Lam (Attendant to Gertrude), Jack Lemmon (Marcellus), Ian McElhinney (Barnardo), Michael Maloney (Laertes), John Spencer-Churchill, The Duke of Malborough (Fortinbras's General), John Mills (Old Norway), Jimi Mistry (Sailor Two), Sian Radinger (Prologue), Simon Russell Beale (Second Gravedigger), Andrew Schofield (Young Lord), Rufus Sewell (Fortinbras), Timothy Spall (Rosencrantz), Tom Szekeres (Young Hamlet), Ben Thom (First Player), Don Warrington (Voltimand), Perdita Weeks (Second Player), Robin Williams (Osric), Kate Winslet (Ophelia), and David Yip (Sailor One).

There's a lot of information on this single disc. The movie lasts 242 minutes and there are several mildly interesting extra features. The default language setting is an English soundtrack in 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio surround. There is a French soundtrack in 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound. In addition, there are German, Castilian, and Spanish sound tracks in Dolby Digital stereo. So take your pick of sound tracks and then you can also have subtitles in English, French, German, Castilian, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, or Finnish! Finally, you can watch the whole show with a running commentary from Branagh and expert Russell Jackson, a feature that is popular with motion pictures but unusual for fine-art HDVDs.

While neither the packaging nor the disc has a statement made about region restrictions, the American release seems region-free and should play just fine on any player. But Warner Bros. has released separate German, French, and Spanish language versions for those markets and maybe other versions we don't know about. These other versions might not be region-free. So buyer beware. Grade: A+

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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+

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Tosca

Puccini Tosca opera to libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. Directed 2001 as a 35mm celluloid film opera movie by Benoît Jacquot at a movie studio in Germany. Stars Angela Gheorghiu [when she was young] (Floria Tosca), Roberto Alagna [then he was hot] (Mario Cavaradossi), Ruggero Raimondi [when he still looked scary] (Baron Scarpia), Maurizio Muraro (Cesare Angelotti), Enrico Fissore (Sacristan), David Cangelosi (Spoletta), and Sorin Coliban (Sciarrone). Antonio Pappano [when he was just getting started with the Royal Opera] conducts the Royal Opera House Orchestra, the Royal Opera Chorus (Chorus Director Terry Edwards), and The Tiffin Boys Choir (Chorus Master Simon Toyne). Set designs by Sylvain Chauvelot; costume designs by Christian Gasc. Released 2017, package includes 2 discs: a 2K (old fashioned) Blu-ray and a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. It's important to note, however, that this title does not have the High Dynamic Range (HDR) feature or any of the advanced sound technology available with the new 4K films. As  best I can tell, the only difference between the two discs in the package is the higher 4K resolution. Released 2017, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: B+

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Much Ado About Nothing

Shakespeare Much Ado About Nothing film. Adapted for the screen and directed by Joss Whedon. Stars Amy Acker (Beatrice), Alexis Denisof (Benedick), Jillian Morgese (Hero), Fran Kranz (Claudio), Reed Diamond (Don Pedro), Clark Gregg (Leonato),  Sean Maher (Don John), Spencer Treat Clark (Borachio), Riki Lindhome (Conrade), Nathan Fillion (Dogberry), Ashley Johnson (Margaret), Emma Bates (Ursula), Tom Lenk (Verges), Nick Kocher (First Watchman), Brian McElhaney (Second Watchman), Joshua Zar (Leonato’s Aide), Paul M. Meston (Friar Francis), Romy Rosemont (The Sexton), and Elsa Guillet-Chapuis (mute role as Court Photographer). Music by Joss Whedon; cinematography by Jay Hunter; edited by Daniel Kaminsky and Joss Whedon; produced by Joss Whedon and Kai Cole. Released 2013, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A

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Hunter's Bride

Hunter's Bride motion picture version of the Carl Maria von Weber opera Der Freischütz to a libretto by Johann Friedrich Kind. The Weber score is adapted by director Jens Neubert and shot with 35mm film on location in Germany. Stars Franz Grundheber (Prince Ottokar), Benno Schollum (Kuno), Juliane Banse (Agathe), Regula Mühlemann (Ännchen), Michael Volle (Kaspar), Michael König (Max), René Pape (Hermit), Olaf Bär (Kilian), and Thilo Schiemenz (Saxonian Puppetplayer). Also features Anett Löschigk, Pauline Weiss, Johanna Will, Daniela Saegeling, Katrin Adam, Marlene Maucher, Rahel Storch, and Mona Zelt as bridemaids. Daniel Harding conducts the London Symphony Orchestra and Simon Halsey conducts the Berlin Radio Choir (Rundfunkchor Berlin). Photography directed by Harald Gunnar Paalgard; audio produced by Torsten Rasch; sound recorded and mixed by Joel Iwatakia; line production by Kaare Storemyr; film edited by Martin Hoffmann; production designed by Per Hjorth; scientific consulting by Matthias Hermann. Produced by Peter Stüber and Jens Neubert. Recorded in German with subtitles in German, English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Korean. Has several bonus features including a audio commentary by the director. Even though this was made with 35 mm film, it runs at 30fps. Released 2013, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound output. Grade: A

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The Hollow Crown

The Hollow Crown television film series. Each film is an adaptation of one of the works of Shakespeare's Henriad: Richard II; Henry IV, Part I; Henry IV, Part II; and Henry V. Directed by Rupert Goold (Richard II), Richard Eyre (Henry IV, Parts I & II), and Thea Sharrock (Henry V). Stars Ben Whishaw (King Richard II of England), Rory Kinnear (Henry Bolingbroke), Clémence Poésy (the Queen), David Suchet (the Duke of York), Patrick Stewart (John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster), David Morrissey (Earl of Northumberland), Tom Hughes (the Duke of Aumerle), James Purefoy (Thomas Mowbray, Duke of Norfolk), Lindsay Duncan (the Duchess of York), Ferdinand Kingsley (Bushy), Samuel Roukin (Bagot), Harry Hadden-Paton (Green), Tom Goodman-Hill (Sir Stephen Scroop), Adrian Schiller (Lord Willoughby), Peter de Jersey (Lord Ross), Finbar Lynch (Lord Marshall), Lucian Msamati (the Bishop of Carlisle), Richard Bremmer (the Abbot of Westminster), Rhodri Miles (the Welsh Captain), David Bradley (the Gardener), Simon Trinder (the Gardener's Assistant), Isabella Laughland (the Queen's Lady), Daniel Boyd (the Groom), Jeremy Irons (Henry IV), Simon Russell Beale (Falstaff), Tom Hiddleston (Prince Hal/King Henry V), Julie Walters (Mistress Quickly), Alun Armstrong (Earl of Northumberland), Joe Armstrong (Hotspur), David Bamber (Robert Shallow), Niamh Cusack (Lady Northumberland), David Dawson (Poins), Michelle Dockery (Lady Percy), Tom Georgeson (Bardolph), Iain Glen (Earl of Warwick), Nicholas Jones (Archbishop of York), David Hayman (Earl of Worcester), James Laurenson (Earl of Westmoreland), Geoffrey Palmer (Lord Chief Justice), Harry Lloyd (Edmund Mortimer), Maxine Peake (Doll Tearsheet), Paul Ritter (Ancient Pistol), Robert Pugh (Owen Glendower), Alex Clatworthy (Lady Mortimer), Ian Conningham (Peto), Stephen McCole (Douglas), Adam Kotz (Hastings), Henry Faber (Prince John of Lancaster), Mark Tandy (Sir Richard Vernon), Pip Torrens (Mowbray), Tim McMullan (Silence), Michael Keane (Thomas Wart), Dominic Rowan (Coleville of the Dale), Jolyon Coy (Sir Walter Blun), John Hurt (the Chorus/Falstaff's boy as a man), Geraldine Chaplin (Alice), Paul Freeman (Thomas Erpingham), Tom Georgeson (Bardolph), Richard Griffiths (Duke of Burgundy), Paterson Joseph (Duke of York), Anton Lesser (Exeter), Paul Ritter (Ancient Pistol), Malcolm Sinclair (Archbishop of Canterbury), Owen Teale (Captain Fluellen), Mélanie Thierry (Princess Katherine), Lambert Wilson (Charles, King of France), Edward Akrout (Louis, the Dauphin), Tom Brooke (Corporal Nym), Jeremie Covillaut (Montjoy), Maxime Lefrançois (The Constable of France), Stanley Weber (Duke of Orleans), Gwilym Lee (Williams), Richard Clothier (Earl of Salisbury), Nigel Cooke (Bishop of Ely), John Dagleish (Peto), George Sargeant (Falstaff’s boy). Cinematography by Danny Cohen (Richard II) and Ben Smithard (Henry IV, Parts I & II); produced by Pippa Harris, Sam Mendes, Gareth Neame, and Rupert Ryle-Hodges. Released 2015, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. From the picture of the back of the package above, you can see that this is marked for Region B only, and this is also pointed out in the Amazon for sale posting.  It would appear no Region A or C version of this has been released. Grade: Help!

This box set has motion picture adaptations of the four plays in the Henriad. The movies run about 8½ hours total. The four plays would run something like 11 hours, so the  movie adaptions have substantial cuts. The Hollow Crown series got great popular and critical acclaim.

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The Merchant of Venice

Shakespeare The Merchant of Venice motion picture. Michael Radford directed and wrote this film in 2004. Stars Al Pacino (Shylock), Jeremy Irons (Antonio), Joseph Fiennes (Bassanio), Lynn Collins (Portia), Zuleikha Robinson (Jessica), Kris Marshall (Gratiano), Charlie Cox (Lorenzo), Heather Goldenhersh (Nerissa), Mackenzie Crook (Launcelot Gobbo), John Sessions (Salerio), Gregor Fisher,(Solanio), Ron Cook (Old Gobbo), Allan Corduner (Tubal), Anton Rodgers (The Duke), David Harewood (Prince of Morocco), and Jules Werner (Franciscan Friar). Music by Jocelyn Pook; cinematography by Benoît Delhomme; editing by Lucia Zucchetti; produced by Cary Brokaw, Michael Cowan, Jason Piette, Barry Navidi, and Luciano Martino. Released 2014, disc has 5.1 surround sound. Grade: Help!

This movie was apparently made in the Netherlands to help Dutch-speaking folks (most of whom know a lot of English) enjoy this Shakespeare play. The language of the film is English. But the only subtitles are in Dutch, and we think the original packaging was in Dutch. Later the owners decided to reissue the film to a wider audience in English packaging.

Please help us by writing a comment that we can place here as a mini-review of this title. We would like to know how closely this movie follows the Shakespeare original text and whether it would help prepare the viewer to tackle reading the real deal.

Coriolanus

Shakespeare Coriolanus motion picture. Ralph Fiennes directed this film in 2011. Stars Ralph Fiennes (Caius Martius Coriolanus), Gerard Butler (Tullus Aufidius), Vanessa Redgrave (Volumnia), Brian Cox (Menenius), Jessica Chastain (Virgilia), John Kani (General Cominius), James Nesbitt (Sicinius), Paul Jesson (Brutus), Lubna Azabal (Tamora), Ashraf Barhom (Cassius), Slavko Štimac (Volsce lieutenant), Dragan Mićanović (Titus), Radoslav Milenković (Volsce politician), Harry Fenn (Young Martius), and Jon Snow (TV Anchorman). Screenplay by John Logan; music by Ilan Eshkeri; cinematography by Barry Ackroyd; editing by Nicolas Gaster; produced by Ralph Fiennes, John Logan, Gabrielle Tana, Julia Taylor-Stanley, and Colin Vaines. Released 2012, disc has 5.1 surround sound. Grade: A+

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King Lear

Shakespeare King Lear motion picture. Trevor Nunn directed this television film in 2008. Stars Ian McKellen (King Lear), Romola Garai (Cordelia), William Gaunt (Earl of Gloucester),  Jonathan Hyde (Earl of Kent), Philip Winchester (Edmund), Sylvester McCoy (The Fool), Frances Barber (Goneril),  Monica Dolan (Regan), David Weston (A Gentleman), Guy Williams (Duke of Cornwall), Seymour Matthews (Curan), John Heffernan (Oswald) Ben Meyjes (Edgar), Julian Harries (Duke of Albany), Naomi Capron (Maid), Kieran Bew (Soldier), Peter Hinton (Duke of Burgundy), and Ben Addis (King of France). Music by Steve Edis; cinematography by Paul Wheeler; editing by Dave Thrasher; art direction by Emma Davis; produced by Andy Picheta and Richard Price. Released 2008, disc has 5.1 surround sound. Grade: Help!

This is from the RSC, so we would expect it to follow Shakespeare's text as closely as a stage version would. Please help us by writing a comment that we can place here as a mini-review of this title.