Cymbeline, the King of Britain, is angry that his daughter Imogen has chosen a poor (but worthy) man for her husband. So he banishes Posthumus, who goes to fight for Rome. Imogen (dressed ... See full summary »
Cymbeline, the King of Britain, is angry that his daughter Imogen has chosen a poor (but worthy) man for her husband. So he banishes Posthumus, who goes to fight for Rome. Imogen (dressed as a boy) goes in search of her husband, who meanwhile has boasted to his pal Iachimo that Imogen would never betray him. And Iachimo's determined to prove him wrong. Written by
Uninspired, plodding BBC treatment of an odd play.
I really was far from gripped by this; I must admit that I was watching it in my faculty library, for study purposes - but that does not rule me out of having a fair opinion on this production's merits.
This is one of the BBC Shakespeare Series, made in the late 1970s and early 1980s largely; 'twas a series that often lacked the necessary budgets to create any visual impact whatsoever. For instance, compare Orson Welles' filming of the Shrewsbury Battle to the pathetic, barely conveyed at all BBC sequence at the end of "Henry IV, Part I"... Really, these adaptations do not measure up (I admit I have not seen all of them, so I am not necessarily speaking about every one) to the many intriguing cinematic envisionings of Shakespeare, and indeed this "Cymbeline" simply does not make use of its television medium.
The cast is solid, but uninspired; Helen Mirren, for example, very forgettable in the crucial lead female role. Many barely try to rise above the bare-minimum mediocrity of the production. Some of the costumes are 'nice' I guess - a conscious attempt to place the action in the early C17 - but Moshinsky's direction is pretty non-existent. The action is, however, presented without any zest, slant or variation; this basically seems far too much of a filmed stage-play, although it is of course supposed to be a 'television adaptation'. Some actors acquit themselves adroitly - the irreproachable Robert Lindsay perfect as the silvery jackanapes Iachimo - and most of an experienced, familiar cast are tidy, but fail to add much to their roles: Michael Gough ('Horror Hospital', 'Satan's Slave'), Marius Goring ('A Matter of Life and Death' indeed!), Graham Crowden ('The Company of Wolves', Old Jock in 'A Very Peculiar Practice' and a thumping hiss-the-melodrama-villain turn as Soldeed in "Dr Who"'s 'The Horns of Nimon'), John Kane, Hugh Thomas (inscrutably bespectacled here) and the grand old Michael Hordern in a cameo as Jupiter.
Really, this is a competent but undeniably dull near-three hours to trudge through. One of the most curious of Shakespeare's plays is barely adapted; is it a history, a romance, a drama? A problem play...? The director is palpably at a loss as to define the material in his terms. It would take a rather more dynamic and thought through adaptation to bring something more out of the play. As it is, I was left un-enthused and unimpressed with this production, and by extension a play that seems a poor relation of the genuinely fascinating problem-comedies.
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