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Max von Sydow
Excellent adaptation with a trio of stellar performances
This color production aired on PBS in 1978 and is a vast improvement over the RKO film of 1947. The colors here are dark, the atmosphere funereal. Hackett, Maxwell and Davison are superb in the leads. Roberts Blossom, looking incredibly like Robert Duvall, is perfect as Seth. Unfortunately, Deborah Offner as Hazel and Peter Weller as Peter are pretty dreadful, but their characters don't take up much screen time and so do not negatively effect the overall excellence of all involved.
In a previous review of the film I inadvertenly provided some incorrect information re the running time of the play and the number of acts, based on timings for the VHS of this production. Here the running time of the play proper is 4 hours and ten minutes - this includes a number of location scenes (especially a long sequence in the tropics) that provide silent commentary, mood-setting and an opening up of the play itself. So one could say the production comes in at around 4 hours and one would be pretty accurate.
Each of the segments features an almost ten minute commentary by Erich Siegel and both a recap of prior events and a preview of events in the next section.
It is leisurely directed which is an improvement over the histrionics of the film and is an important document of one of our greatest plays. Well worth one's investment to add it to one's library.
One humorous point - upon Lavinia's return, Peter brings her a bouquet of day lilies, common wild flowers even in 1866. Both spend much time sniffing them. Unfortunately, day lilies have no scent.
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