Shakespeare In Love

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Details At A Glance

Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.33:1, Dolby Digital 2.0 (mono)
Other Trailer(s) Yes, 21 TV Spots
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks Yes, 2
Commentary Track 1-John Madden (Director
Commentary Track 2-Donna Gigliotti (Producer), Marc Norman (Screenwriter/Producer), Tom Stoppard (Screenwriter), David Parfitt (Producer), Martin Childs (Production Designer), Geoffrey Rush (Actor), Sandy Powell (Costume Designer), Richard Greatrex (Cinematographer), Judi Dench (Actor), Gwyneth Paltrow (Actor), John Madden (Director), Ben Affleck (Actor), Colin Firth (Actor), and Joseph Fiennes (Actor)
Running Time 118:37 minutes Other Extras Featurette - Shakespeare In Love And On Film (20 mins)
Featurette - Academy Award-Winning Costume (2 mins) 
Deleted Scenes - 4, 1 Alternate Ending, 2 Alternate Versions of Scenes, 1 Outtake
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (75:33)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director John Madden

Columbia Tristar
Starring Joseph Fiennes 
Gwyneth Paltrow 
Geoffrey Rush 
Colin Firth 
Judi Dench
Case Transparent Amaray
RRP $34.95 Music Stephen Warbeck

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages
Region 4
English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
Soundtrack Languages
Region 2
English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s) 
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s) 
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s) 
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s) 
English Audio Commentary 1 (Dolby Digital 2.0 (mono), 192Kb/s) 
English Audio Commentary 2 (Dolby Digital 1.0, 96Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Region 4
English for the Hearing Impaired Annoying Product Placement No
Region 2
English for the Hearing Impaired 

Plot Synopsis

    Having gained a billion (well, okay, nineteen) Golden Globe and Oscar nominations in 1998, and being a winner of 10 of them, Shakespeare In Love is a prime example of a film where the actuality does not live up to the expectations, right? A film that is so unable to live up to expectations that Universal have to load the DVD with just about every extra you can think of to lessen the disappointment, right?

    Absolutely and categorically wrong. Shakespeare in Love is definitely one of those rare films that not only lives up to your expectations, but exceeds them. And the fact that Universal have blessed the DVD with such an extras package that is rarely seen in Region 4 only heightens the pleasure.

    As for the plot, well to be honest I cannot add any more to that of Michael's review so check out his rave review.

    All as I know is this is a gloriously written story, like the works of Shakespeare himself, full of all the emotion, passion, humour, tragedy and drama that is so rarely seen in a film nowadays. Performances were terrific across the cast and the whole film moves at a quite compelling pace. Just how many more superlatives could be thrown at this film, I do not know, but it would need the genius of a Shakespeare to do it, not my inadequate efforts.

Transfer Quality


    You would need some of those superlatives to describe the transfer, which is glorious indeed. If all transfers were this good, we could die very well satisfied indeed.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

    I doubt that we will find too many transfers that will rival this for clarity and definition. This is truly a wonder to behold that leaves even such luminary films as The Negotiator behind. Shadow detail is exquisite.

    The colours are beautifully rendered throughout, and whilst Elizabethan England is not renowned for flashy colours, the vibrancy here is quite marvellous and when the colours do get flashy (such as the peacock gown of Queen Elizabeth) they come up wonderfully. There is not a hint of oversaturation of colour, nor even the remotest hint of colour bleed.

    There were no MPEG artefacts noted, and it would be churlish to even mention video artefacts; there may well have been some but I did not really notice them at all if there were. Film artefacts were very rare indeed, and even those few noted were relatively minor and in no way detracted from the film.

    Subtitles can be selected via the remote control, and all subtitles are available via the remote, no matter what Region the DVD player is set to. The subtitle menu, however, is dependent on which Region the DVD player is set to.

    This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change at 75:33. The layer change is quite well chosen and is not really disruptive to the film at all: the shot of the complete written version of Romeo and Juliet on the bed sheet just lasts a little longer than intended as the player navigates the change.


    This soundtrack is also quite superb.

    The audio tracks available on the DVD are dependent on the Region that the DVD player is set to in the same way as for subtitles. They are selectable via the audio menu, and via the remote control. All audio tracks are selectable via the remote control at all times.

    There are six audio soundtracks on the DVD: the default English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded, the first English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital track encoded as 2.0 mono, and the second English Audio Commentary track encoded as Dolby Digital 1.0. I listened to the default English soundtrack and very briefly sampled both English Audio Commentary tracks. I also dabbled with the French and Italian soundtracks, which certainly are pale in comparison to the English default.

    Dialogue was always clear and easy to understand.

    There were no audio sync problems with this disc.

    The score by Stephen Warbeck is very good, wonderfully supportive of the film and contributes well to the overall film. This is not a cobbled together effort and clearly some care has gone into making the music suit the film action throughout.

    This is a quite detailed soundtrack, with some wonderful work from the rear channels. The overall sound picture is very natural and you are quite nicely placed into it.

    The bass channel does not get an awful lot of use, but the film simply does not require much in the way of bass at all.


    Universal + Collector's Edition = something very special indeed usually. This is.


    The menu design is nicely tied into the film, and is 16x9 enhanced.

Audio Commentary - John Madden (Director)

    I only briefly sampled the commentary which is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0. From what I heard it is reasonably interesting, even though I do not have too much time for these things.

Audio Commentary - Donna Gigliotti (Producer), Marc Norman (Screenwriter/Producer), Tom Stoppard (Screenwriter), David Parfitt (Producer), Martin Childs (Production Designer), Geoffrey Rush (Actor), Sandy Powell (Costume Designer), Richard Greatrex (Cinematographer), Judi Dench (Actor), Gwyneth Paltrow (Actor), John Madden (Director), Ben Affleck (Actor), Colin Firth (Actor), and Joseph Fiennes (Actor)

    Again only briefly sampled and seemed less of an audio commentary and rather more a collection of interview fragments from the people concerned.

Featurette - Shakespeare In Love And On Film

    A reasonably interesting look at the making of the film with reference to previous films of Shakespeare's work (notably the Zefferelli Romeo and Juliet). Typical of the modern extended promotional featurette for films made predominantly for use on television shows.

Featurette - Academy Award-Winning Costume

    A brief interview with Sandy Powell, the costume designer - and she did indeed deserve the Oscar.

Deleted Scenes - 4

    These are quite lengthy sequences, and the quality of the first three indicates that these were late deletions after test viewings of the film I suspect. The first sequence is an Alternate Ending to the film. The final sequence is an amusing outtake with Geoffrey Rush having a dig at the producer.

TV Spots - 21

    Good grief - are there really 21? I lost count to be honest as they tend towards similarity after a while. The longer you watch them, the more they trumpet the award nominations and eventual awards won. This has to be some sort of record though for number, if not variety.

Theatrical Trailer

R4 vs R1

    See the Miramax logo? Buena Vista right? So guess what the Region 1 version misses out on?     Anyone really want to buy the Region 1 version? Did not think so.


    Michael D reckons Shakespeare In Love is the best DVD in Region 4. I suppose you could argue the point, but there is no doubt that this is a DVD of rare quality and if you do not hold it in high regard, you must be very difficult to please. Forget Titanic - this is the release of the year so far. Definitely one of those DVDs that should be in every collection.

    The video quality is absolutely wonderful.

    The audio quality is hardly shamed either.

    The extras are very good indeed.

    Buy it now.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris
4th October 1999

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
Display Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm
Audio Decoder Built in
Amplification Yamaha RXV-795
Speakers Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL