Appellate Judge Erick Harper knows that all the hardcore Shakespeare fans are buying this DVD.
Mothers, Lovers, and Wives
Claire Bloom (Charly, Clash of the Titans) is one of the most successful and best-regarded Shakespearean actresses of her generation. She has portrayed all the most famous females in the Bard's plays: Ophelia, Juliet, Lady Anne, Queen Gertrude, Imogen, Rosalind, and many more. She has appeared on stage and screen with a galaxy of Shakespeare luminaries; this disc alone features archival footage of her opposite Laurence Olivier (whom she charmingly, startlingly refers to as "Larry"), Richard Burton, and Patrick Stewart, just to name a few. She came of age in the 1950s, during a transition in Shakespearean acting from the highly stylized delivery of previous generations to a more naturalistic approach. This allowed actors of her generation the opportunity to put a more personal stamp on their roles than had been the case for previous generations of actors.
In this presentation, Ms. Bloom reminisces about her long and storied career during interview segements, and also give her unique insight into the psyche and interpretation of some of Shakespeare's most fascinating female roles. Interspersed with these clips, she delivers monologues from the plays themselves, excerpts from her one-woman recital program. The resulting 54-minute program is an interesting treat for anyone trying to better understand Shakespeare or the craft of acting in general.
Adding to the program's interest is archival footage of some older versions of Shakespeare's plays, including a couple of silent film versions. One is a version of Hamlet featuring legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt in the title role (!), the only known extant footage of her in performance of any kind. Also included is a brief clip of an acting instructor from the 1920s, who gives a reading of Lady Macbeth's "Out, damned spot" speech in the old-school stilted, stylized manner.
Video and audio quality is adequate but not great. The frame shows considerable pixilation at times, as well as some serious moire and strobing effects in fine details like line drawings from old books. Sometimes it is just plain jittery. However, it is adequate to the task at hand, and Ms. Bloom's solo performance segments are rendered nicely. Audio is a bit congested, but not bad. Special features include a biography and filmography of Ms. Bloom, as well as a collection of trailers for other offerings from First Run Features.
For fans of Shakespeare, or those who study or teach his works, this may prove an interesting resource, likewise for those trying to study or understand acting.
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