This film adaptation of Dylan Thomas' wonderful "Under Milkwood" has dozens of characters, the most famous of whom are Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Peter O'Toole-- one of the problems with this production. There are simply too many characters to keep up with. The other problem is that the Welsh accents are difficult to understand. The play works better when performed on stage with a few characters reading several parts. On the other hand, the photography of the village and seacost is beautiful beyond words. And speaking of words, hearing Thomas' alliterative plumy language makes up for whatever failings this film may have otherwise: "the dawn inches up," "the tidy wives," and the village at night described as "a hill of windows," etc., will make your heart leap up. Mr. Burton's delivery of the long narrative passages is not to be missed.
The CD has a short interview with Mr. Burton and a longer biography of Dylan Thomas, constructed in most part from his beautiful...
I have been reading Dylan Thomas, poems, stories, recollections, and "Under Milkwood" since I was a teenager, in the mid-1960s. ("Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog", and "A Child's Christmas in Wales" are outstanding, as poetic prose.) I saw this film when it was first released in Australia, and half-liked it. I watched it again, nearly forty years later, last night. It is more likeable, in my old age, but, like the parson's egg (alluding to a classic cartoon-image in the British magazine "Punch") it is good in parts, and other parts are less than good. Richard Burton speaks one of the narrating Voices, as voice-over. He does this superbly, as he should, having been one of the first to do so in the original BBC Radio version, which is available, at least a a vinyl LP. Burton personally knew Dylan Thomas! Sadly, Burton appears, almost-silently on screen, as a strolling player, accompanied by a non-speaking chum: the two look as if they had...
I own this on videotape, but will not, probably, be getting the DVD.
UNDER MILKWOOD is a play for voices, originially written for radio, and frequently done as a readers' theater piece by college and community groups. (By doubling parts one can do it with a fairly small cast, and the constumes, scenery, and props are minimal.)
Why then, would one even consider doing it as a film, that most visual of media? A videorecording of a proper readers' theater production might have some pedagogical value, but it would be a rather dull film considered as film. But this shoehorning it into a full cinematic treatment was totally wrongheaded from the beginning.
I'm giving it three stars only because of the cast; they were all very talented people and obviously were doing the best they could under the circumstances. The only exception was Elizabeth Taylor, and that wasn't really her fault; (a) so much of her part was cut that one couldn't really get a valid...
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