A Midsummer Night's Dream (1968)





A Midsummer Night's Dream Photos

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British director Peter Hall's 1968 filmization of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, starring the Royal Shakespeare Company, is faithful to the text and to the main plot, which involves the "bewitching" of several groups of mortals by a covey of mischievous invisible fairies. So why did critics complain? Hall's handling of Shakespeare's prose and iambic pentameter didn't bother the purists as much as the director's visual choices. Hall was criticized for staging the film in a typically rainy British winter rather than the mid-Summer alluded to in the play's title. The director responded by pointing out that the fairies, led by Oberon and Titania, were deliberately toying with the expectations and sensibilities of the Mortals -- thus, it made sense to confuse the "human" characters by playing havoc with the weather. Other stylistic alterations included updating the story to the 19th century, and the near-nudity of Judi Dench as Titania. Most of the film is shot in close-up (most effectively during the soliloquies of Diana Rigg, as Helena), not so much to hide budgetary deficiencies as to play better on television. Also featuring Ian Holm (as Puck) Barbara Jefford, Helen Mirren, Michael Jayston, Paul Rogers, Ian Richardson and David Warner, this Midsummer Night's Dream premiered in the U.S. on the CBS TV network on Sunday evening, February 9, 1969. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Rating: NR
Genre: Classics , Comedy , Science Fiction & Fantasy , Special Interest , Romance
Directed By: Peter Hall
Written By: William Shakespeare
In Theaters: wide


Derek Godfrey
as Theseus
Barbara Jefford
as Hippolyta
Hugh Sullivan
as Philostrate
David Warner
as Lysander
Michael Jayston
as Demetrius
Diana Rigg
as Helena
Helen Mirren
as Hermia
Judi Dench
as Titania
Ian Holm
as Puck
Paul Rogers
as Bottom
Donald Eccles
as Starveling
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Critic Reviews for A Midsummer Night's Dream

All Critics (3)

Mr Hall's halfway house between screen and stage looks almost as uncomfortable a perch as the curious grave-like earthwork in which Judy Dench's Titania has her sleeping-quarters.

Full Review… | April 11, 2016
The Spectator

The ultimate in respectfully radical Shakespeare adaptations -- it presents the story in purely 1960s terms; respectful in that it includes nearly all of Shakespeare's text.

Full Review… | May 23, 2007
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

A dream cast makes this worth pursuing.

Full Review… | March 23, 2005
Film Threat

Audience Reviews for A Midsummer Night's Dream

This version of Shakespeare's enduring comedy features the talents of The Royal Shakespeare company. Predictably, they all turn in expert performances (Especially Ian Holm as Puck). On the other hand, the production values are low and, aside from the surrealistic fairy scenes, the costumes and sets are notably drab. However, this version of the story, which loyally transcribes the Bard's dialogue, should have enough positive traits to entertain Shakespeare purists.

Ryan Valentine
Ryan Valentine

Rigg, Mirren and Dench are all fine, the extra half star is for them, Holm and Warner are okay but everyone else is stiff and lifeless and the film quality is terrible.

jay nixon
jay nixon

I saw it in high school. Bored me to tears. Older productions, even with a cast like this, usually fall flat because they get the wrong person to direct.


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