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Warner's Shakespeare Collection in August

Warner Home Video have announced the Region 1 DVD release of their Shakespeare Collection on 14th August 2007. This four title collection of William Shakespeare’s most famous screen adaptations is headlined by the long-awaited R1 DVD debut of Kenneth’s Branagh’s Hamlet 2- Disc Special Edition, the unforgettable and highly acclaimed full text version of Shakespeare’s powerful tragedy, featuring a magnificent all-star cast. The collection also includes three other famous Shakespeare screen translations, all making their highly-demanded premieres on R1 DVD -- Max Reinhardt’s legendary production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which featured virtually the entire Warner Bros. stable of stars circa 1935, Sir Laurence Olivier’s Othello, and the lavish M-G-M version of Romeo and Juliet starring Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer. Among the galaxy of famous stars in these films are Maggie Smith, James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland, Mickey Rooney, Kate Winslet, Julie Christie, Jack Lemmon, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal.

The Shakespeare Collection, with all films carefully remastered to showcase their lush production values, includes new commentaries, vintage featurettes and more. The Collection will be available both as a five-disc set for $59.92 SRP, and as individual titles. The Hamlet 2-Disc Special Edition DVD will sell for $26.99 SRP. The individual titles are available for $19.97 SRP each.

Hamlet 2-Disc Special Edition (1996)
In this first-ever full-text film of Shakespeare’s greatest work, nominated for 4 Academy Awards, the power surges through every scene. The timeless tale of murder, corruption and revenge is reset in an opulent 19th-century world, using sprawling Blenheim Palace as Elsinore with much of the action staged in shimmering mirrored and gold-filled interiors. The luminous cast includes actor/director Kenneth Branagh, Kate Winslet, Derek Jacobi, Julie Christie, Robin Williams, Jack Lemmon, Billy Crystal and Charlton Heston.

The excitement of the Bard’s words and Branagh’s adventurous filmmaking style lift the story from its often shadowy ambience to fully-lit pageantry and rage. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle said, “In the 80 years that works of world literature have been adapted for the screen, few filmmakers have attempted so much and with such success.”

DVD Special Features:

  • Introduction by director/star Kenneth Branagh
  • Commentary by Kenneth Branagh and Shakespeare scholar Russell Jackson
  • New digital transfer from original 70mm elements
  • Soundtrack remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Featurette To Be on Camera: A History with Hamlet
  • 1996 Cannes Film Festival promo
  • Shakespeare movies trailer gallery
    • Hamlet ’96
    • Julius Caesar ‘53
    • Othello ‘65
    • Othello ‘95
    • Romeo and Juliet ‘37
    • A Midsummer Night’s Dream ‘35
    • Hamlet ’90
  • Subtitles: English, French and Spanish subtitles. (feature film only)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935)
Famed European stage director Max Reinhardt brought his unique and charming screen adaptation of Shakespeare’s bewitching comedy to Los Angeles for a presentation at the famed Hollywood Bowl in the mid-1930s. Jack L. Warner was so impressed by the event that he brought Reinhardt to the studio to re-create the stage spectacular on the screen, with many of the most famous stars of the Warner Bros. stock company playing the key roles. The film is a visual triumph, featuring superb performances from James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland (in her screen debut), Dick Powell, Joe E. Brown, Mickey Rooney and others playing the mortals and immortals. The film was nominated for 4 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and won two (Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing). The legendary Reinhardt and Warner studio collaborators turn his unforgettable stage extravaganza into an exquisite movie, with Erich Wolfgang Korngold adapting the glorious Felix Mendelssohn score. The film has been fully-restored back to its original “roadshow” length version (including overture and exit music), having been digitally remastered from the film’s original nitrate camera negative.

DVD Special Features:
  • Commentary by film historian Scott MacQueen
  • Olivia de Havilland screen test
  • Vintage featurette A Dream Comes True
  • Presenting… Gallery of 6 teaser trailers showcasing cast members
  • Warner Bros. Studio Café teaser trailer
  • Musical short Shake Mr. Shakespeare
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Subtitles: English, French and Portuguese (feature film only)

Othello (1965)
Four decades after Laurence Olivier brought Shakespeare’s Moorish general to the screen in 1965, his bravura performance retains its power and is “regarded by many critics and actors as the greatest performance of the 20th century,” wrote the Los Angeles Times’ Peter Rainer.

The original cast and soul-shattering impact of the play’s staging by the National Theatre of Great Britain are captured on film. Olivier was nominated for his seventh Academy Award in the title role, and the movie’s Desdemona (Maggie Smith), Emilia (Joyce Redman) and Iago (Frank Finlay) also captured OscarÒ nominations. Othello is the only Shakespeare film in which all four leading actors were Oscar nominated.

DVD Special Features:
  • Vintage featurette Olivier Talks About Othello
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Subtitles: English (feature film only)

Romeo and Juliet (1936)
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s legendary production chief Irving Thalberg’s respect for the Bard infuses this “best of the pre-Olivier Shakespeare films” (David Shipman, The Story of Cinema), chosen as one of 1936’s 10-Best Films by The New York Times and the National Board of Review. George Cukor directs this timeless tale of doomed lovers divided by feuding families. Norma Shearer and Leslie Howard play title roles. Adding to the allure of this four-time Academy Award nominee, including Best Picture, are remarkable sets, opulent costumes (Botticelli paintings inspired Shearer’s wardrobe) and superb photography that reflect the film’s lavish budget.

DVD Special Features:
  • Vintage short Master Will Shakespeare
  • Classic M-G-M cartoon Little Cheeser
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Subtitles: English (feature film only)

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