505 minutes incl extras
Screen Plays series
The Wars of the Roses
“The real thrill of these discs … comes from watching a set of extraordinary performances from a critical moment in British acting, when the classical theatre exemplified by Olivier and Gielgud was giving way to kitchen-sink naturalism. Illuminations deserve some kind of medal.” Sight & Sound, September 2016
“A production of epic, majestic grandeur, a landmark and a beacon in post-war English theatre.” Bernard Levin, Daily Mail, July 1963
The Wars of the Roses is a compelling version of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s landmark production of William Shakespeare’s Henry VI trilogy and Richard III. Adapted and directed for the stage by Peter Hall and John Barton, The Wars of the Roses was acknowledged on its premiere in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1963 as one of the defining Shakespeare productions of the post-war years.
Working with a stellar cast including Ian Holm, Peggy Ashcroft, David Warner and Janet Suzman and Donald Sinden, Hall and Barton conjured up a vivid medieval world to reveal how the manoeuvrings and mendacities of the fifteenth century are echoed by politicians in our own time.
The BBC harnessed state-of-the-art production techniques to capture the three plays on John Bury’s mammoth and menacing steel set. As BBC executive Michael Bakewell said at the time, his aim was “to get to the heart of the production”, and these recordings have an immediacy and intensity that has rarely been equalled by Shakespeare on television.
The Wars of the Roses is presented here in its original form, as three plays first broadcast in 1965 and unseen since then. Recently digitally restored, the trilogy can now be recognised as one of the greatest achievements of the Royal Shakespeare Company and of British television in the 1960s.
Extras include a 20-minute film, Making The Wars of the Roses, which features interviews with original cast members David Warner and Janet Suzman. They discuss their experiences of being part of one of the mightiest stage productions of our time.
Screen Plays is a series of prestige DVD releases featuring major BBC productions of classic theatre plays, starring leading actors of the past fifty years. Each DVD release offers the best-available archive materials complemented with new video interviews together with a booklet giving background information and critical writing. An Age of Kings is the first boxset in the Screen Plays series, with Richard II releasing as the third title in November 2016.