Twelfth Night (Sichel, 1969) DVD
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Directed by John Sichel
Produced in 1969
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
BBC Shakespeare adaptations sometimes have unfair reputations as worthy adaptations that are handy study aids but which fail as pure entertainment. Drivel. The acting talent of an imaginatively selected cast in this version of Twelfth Night breathes new life into the piece, and more than compensates for its slight staginess.
One of Shakespeare’s most eccentric plays, with lurches in tone and intriguing plot twists, this combines the Bard’s plot of twins, cross-dressing, misunderstanding and romance with its amazing all-star cast to create a superior adaptation.
Joan Plowright, looking much younger than her 40 years, is a delightful Viola, while Adrienne Corri is an appropriately haughty Olivia. However, it’s the two Sirs who steal the show. Too often Malvolio is played for sympathy rather than laughs, but here Alec Guinness wisely interprets the character as a pompous buffoon, while Ralph Richardson has a high old time as the bawdy, drunken Sir Toby Belch. All this and Tommy Steele (as Feste) playing the lute too!
Alex Davidson on 4th May 2009
Author of 237 reviews
One of Shakespeare’s best-loved comedies, Twelfth Night skillfully weaves a story of deception, disguise and frustrated love amid the festivities of an ancient tradition: the Christmas holiday when, for one night, life is turned upside down and mischief reigns; men dress as women, servants dress as their masters, and authority is usurped.
Heading an illustrious cast are two giants of the stage and screen: Alec Guinness is the pompous and puritanical steward, Malvolio, and Ralph Richardson plays Sir Toby Belch, whose drunken prank deftly exposes Malvolio’s vanity and hypocrisy and lies at the heart of the play’s subplot. Tommy Steele is the wise fool, Feste; renowned Shakespearean actress Joan Plowright plays Viola, the shipwrecked young noblewoman posing as a page (‘Cesario’) in the service of Duke Orsino.
This acclaimed production is directed by the award-winning John Sichel, who worked with some of the world’s greatest actors and most prestigious theatre institutions, and was originally screened in 1970 as part of the celebrated ITV Sunday Night Theatre series.
Length: 100 mins
Format: DVD Colour
Released: 4th May 2009
Cat No: 7953032