Starring: Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, Roger Rees, Bob Peck and John Woodvine
Fremantle Home Entertainment
RRP: 12.99
Certificate: PG
Available 24 May 2004

Shakespeare's famous tale of the Scots nobleman whose ambition, spurred on by his alluring wife and an evil prophecy, leads him to treachery, murder and damnation...

Trevor Nunn's highly acclaimed Macbeth for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), has been praised as the most successful Shakespeare production for many years. This production retains the original RSC cast, in which Sir Ian McKellen appears as Macbeth and Dame Judi Dench as Lady Macbeth. Wherever possible, use has been made of the original RSC costumes, props and sets. Sir Ian McKellen won the 1976 Plays and Players Best Actor award, and Dame Judi Dench the 1977 Society of West End Theatres' Best Actress award, for their performances in the play.

From history's most overrated (he was illiterate for god's sake and would constantly make up words when he couldn't find ones in the English language to relay how he felt) playwright comes the tale of Macbeth.

But, while I have no great love for Shakespeare (who says he was the world's greatest playwright anyway?) there is no escaping the fact that this production is well produced. However, it has not aged gracefully (but then I suppose you could argue that Shakespearean plays can never really age) the music and camera moves betray the fact that this was recorded in the 1970's.

While the production itself is well conceived, this DVD is a little bit of a let down. Okay, I wasn't really expecting any extras, but for god's sake... why didn't they think to include subtitles? This isn't the sort of DVD your average plebeian will be planning on purchasing. It is likely to be snapped up by students and schools (as well as Shakespeare fanatics) to illustrate how the Bard's written text may be performed. Therefore, being able to follow the text on the DVD is surely essential.

If you are seriously considering purchasing this, you might like to see if you can pick up a copy of the original video version. It will be cheaper and the DVD's lack of any extras means that the DVD purchase is by no means essential.

Sadly disappointing.

Nick Smithson

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