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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Shakespeare's Women and Claire Bloom
Shakespeare's Women and Claire Bloom
First Run Features // Unrated // August 23, 2005
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted August 24, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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The Show:

Claire Bloom has had a long and full career, both on the stage and on the screen.  Though she's played many roles, she's best known for her performances in Shakespeare's plays. Shakespeare's Women & Claire Bloom is an hour long film looks at this talented actress and the way she approached the Bard's plays.  The film is successful in conveying the actress' love of Shakespeare, but doesn't offer much more.

Claire Bloom was a young ingenue when Charlie Chaplin cast her as the female lead in Limelight, a part that turned her into an international star.  She went on to play in many films and TV shows, as well as acting on stage.  She received rave reviews for her roles in Shakespeare's plays, and even played Lady Anne in Laurence Olivier's film Richard III.  This documentary consists of a conversation with the accomplished actress about the various women in Shakespeare's plays.  As such, this really isn't about Claire Bloom, as it is about her thoughts on Shakespeare.

Told through interviews, film clips and solo performances apparently made for this show, this is a good introduction to the analysis of the Bard's female characters and their motivations.  It succeeds in that regard, and also shows Bloom's love of Shakespeare's plays.  Her analysis of the parts were very concise and perceptive, and was the high point of the show.

Unfortunately I was hoping for a little bit more.  The synopsis of a play in a few sentences followed by Blooms recitation of a soliloquy didn't really engage me as much as I was hoping.  I would have preferred to have more points of view instead of just Bloom's.  The show also assumes that the viewer has a bit of a familiarity with Shakespeare and his plays.

Another flaw was the use of so many solo readings.  At one point Bloom laments having to give solo performances because she has no one to play off of, and that much of Shakespeare's charm comes from the interaction of the characters.  Yet in the performances she gives, she's all alone.  It would have been a stronger show if they followed her advice and let her act with another actor.

As a film, the direction was rather uninspired.  The production was filled with Bloom's talking head, she's the only one interviewed, and standard medium shots when she recites her lines.  It comes across as a typical made for TV special that was done without a lot of thought or care.

The DVD:


Audio:

The English two channel audio is suitable for the program.  The actresses voice is reproduced with strength and clarity.  The range is about average, with some of the music sounding a bit flat.  Some of the vintage film clips have audio defects, but the contemporary film is free of hiss and dropouts.

Video:

The full frame image is adequate but not outstanding.  The colors are bright but details disappear in dark areas.  Bloom wears a black dress during some of her readings and it has a tendency to blend into the curtain in the background.  Aside from that, the picture looks fine with no digital defects worth mentioning.

Extras:

The only extras on this disc were a text biography of Claire Bloom and a filmography for the actress.

Final Thoughts:

I can't see a lot of replay value in this documentary.  It was interesting watching it once, but I don't think I'll be plugging it into my player any time soon.  Claire Bloom is a wonderful actress who has a deep love of Shakespeare and his work, but the program never really got me as excited as Bloom was.  If you're a fan of the Bard's, it might be worth a viewing.  Rent it.

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