DVD Reviews

Shakespeare: The King’s Man – DVD Review

By June L. May 13, 2013, 18:27 GMT

Shakespeare: The King’s Man – DVD Review

Shakespeare\'s life and work are sometimes romanticized as a product of the golden age of Elizabeth I. But the bard produced some of his finest plays after the Virgin Queen\'s death. In this illuminating BBC series, American scholar James Shapiro examines the plays Shakespeare wrote during the turbulent reign of Elizabeth\'s successor, King James I. One of the new king\'s first official acts was to name Shakespeare a king\'s man. ...more

Shakespeare’s mature years as a writer and public figure are explored in this three episode series presented by Athena.  American scholar James Shapiro, a professor at Columbia University takes viewers through the history and culture while highlighting the plays produced during the time of James I of England.
 
Remember when you studied Shakespeare in school?  You probably viewed Shakespeare as the finest writer of the Elizabethan age, presenting plays for Her Majesty and receiving notoriety and praise for his efforts.  This is true, but in this new documentary series, viewers learn that Shakespeare was also “the King’s Man” a distinctive honor conferred upon him very soon after James I came to the throne. 

Some of Shakespeare’s finest plays were written in this time period and reflect more of the cultural and political world of King James than looking back at the reign of Elizabeth I.  This Jacobean society and court provided the environment that influenced KING LEAR, THE TEMPEST, and MACBETH, as Shakespeare enjoyed more prestige and financial security in his life. 

Examining all aspects of Shakespeare’s life at this time, Jame Shapiro introduces viewers to places that were familiar to the writer, as well as documentation, discoveries and opinions of leading experts in literary, sociological and historical scholarship.  Modern directors contribute professional views of Shakespeare as an author and director of plays.

Shakespeare: The King’s Man is presented on a single disc with all three episodes of the series and has a bonus disc containing the 1983 BBC production of MACBETH.  This fine set is enhanced by a 12 page booklet with additional information and insights to Shakespeare’s work, and a website devoted to questions and resources. 

Shakespeare The King’s Man is entertaining and educational, and would be appreciated by literary and drama scholars as well as those who simply have an interest in Shakespeare or the Jacobean times.

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