Great Performances: Season 3, Episode 7

The Seagull (5 Jan. 1975)

TV Episode  -   -  Biography | Drama | Music
8.0
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This quintessential Chekhov drama--his first success--is both comic and tragic. A group of friends and relations gather at a country estate to see the first performance of an experimental ... See full summary »

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Title: The Seagull (05 Jan 1975)

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Nina
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Pauline
George Ede ...
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...
...
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William Swetland ...
Sorin
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Sheila Hickey
Tom Kaufman
Steve R. Lawson
Daniel Morris
Eileen Opatut
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This quintessential Chekhov drama--his first success--is both comic and tragic. A group of friends and relations gather at a country estate to see the first performance of an experimental play written and staged by the young man of the house, Konstantin (Frank Langella), an aspiring writer who dreams of bringing new forms to the theatre. Written by Anonymous

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filmed play | based on play


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5 January 1975 (USA)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Originally broadcast on Great Performances (1971). See more »

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Version of Måsen (1959) See more »

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Effective but Underwhelming
28 February 2009 | by (Illinois) – See all my reviews

I have never read Chekov's original play, but I was quickly carried away by the depth and provocative language of this story; it's the kind of play that makes you fall in love with words and the power they can have.

The story itself is very simplistic, with most of the really important moments actually happening off camera. Because of that, this can't really be recommended for everyone; uninterested viewers will probably find little to cling to.

This interpretation is weakened by the broad ranges in performances. Blythe Danner was certainly the highlight; her breakdown scene toward the end is emotionally draining just to watch, it must have been torment to experience. Lee Grant is also captivating as a past-her-prime stage actress.

The men, however, are not as effective. Frank Langella is at his best when playing powerful characters, so as the tortured playwright Konstantin he sometimes comes across as hammy and too self-pitying to feel real empathy with. Kevin McCarthy is effective, but at 60, seems too old for the role of Trigorin. His romantic scenes with the much-younger Danner are uncomfortable to watch, but perhaps that was the intention.

This version will pacify fans of the play, but is unlikely to convert any new ones.


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