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Oscar Wilde's Salome / Steven Berkoff
Oscar Wilde's Salome / Steven Berkoff
Actors: Oscar Wilde, Myriam Cyr plays Salome
Director: Steven Berkoff
Genres: Special Interests, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2004     2hr 30min

A drama-poem, Salome was written by Oscar Wilde mostly in 1891 stirred by his attraction to Lord Alfred Douglas. Taken from the New Testament tale, Herod is so infatuated with his step-daughter Salome that he promises her ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Oscar Wilde, Myriam Cyr plays Salome
Director: Steven Berkoff
Genres: Special Interests, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Dance, Ballet & Dance
Studio: Kultur Video
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 06/29/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 2hr 30min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

WOW! A Fantastic Salome!
J P Falcon | Fords, New Jersey United States | 01/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a gem that needs to be discovered by a wider audience, as Oscar Wilde's SALOME has finally appeared on DVD...Prior to this, you had to rely on the silent film SALOME and the great Richard Strauss opera, but now you can savor the language of Wilde's play as it was intended...Steven Berkoff directed a performance that shuns the trappings of props and sets and allows the actors to mime the action when needed. Initially, I was concerned about this approach, but I was soon swept away by the strong performances of the ensemble cast...Stephen Berkoff plays Herod, and though there are moments where he borders on high camp, he provides a riveting performance of the lust filled King...Mark Lewis delivers John the Baptists words powerfully, and I could not help but notice the similarity of his delivery and that of Michael York's great portrayal of the Baptist in Jesus of Nazareth....Carmen Du Sautoy is an effective Herodias, and praise must be given to Myriam Cyr who captures the conflicted and tortured soul of Salome brilliantly. The intensity of her performance will keep your attention throughout....Regarding Berkoff's direction, one might become initially put off by the slow motion pace of the play, but it was Berkoff's desire to frame every word in order to emphasize Wilde's greatness. You will soon discover that the pace and clarity of the spoken words only heighten the drama, and the pace quickens as one delves deeper into the play...You will undoubtedly find this a remarkable experience which only seeing SALOME live could offer as serious competition, and it should be noted that these are indeed wonderous times when one can enjoy such works as Oscar Wilde's SALOME in the comfort of our homes....Enthusiastically recommended!"
An angel's breath short of perfection
Theodore Voelkel | Winchester, MA United States | 11/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"You have to accept Steven Berkoff's premise at the start, namely to sweep Oscar Wilde's prescribed Victoriana off the stage and let his opulent prose stand on its own. It's not the ONLY way to do Salome, but it is an enthralling one, and the job is carried off to near perfection. The use of piano music (by Roger Doyle) is inspired, thickening the pantomimic stage action with extra dimension, and creating a genre somewhere between cinema and opera. And Myriam Cyr is simply the SEXIEST Salome ever acted -- another positive fallout of a spare abstract stage: her sexuality flashes out sharp as a laser. By an irony of ironies, however, the biggest acting disappointment is Steven Berkoff himself, the directorial genius behind the production, who plays Herod. He speaks his lines with a cutesy-wootseyness that attempts to spotlight Herod's effeteness, but in doing so he lurches instead, and annoyingly, into high-school slapstick. Far from titillating, these Herodic histrionics are the dullest, draggiest moments of the production. Everything Berkoff says in his Special Features interview about his rationale for the face paint, the spare staging, the absence of props, the "Kabuki look," rings true and is eloquently borne out in action -- save for his own jokey-baroquey performance as Herod, which runs afoul of his own canons of spareness. But a bigger caveat is that THIS DVD SHOULD HAVE COME WITH AN ENGLISH SUBTITLE TRACK. Wilde's intricate script, the boomy miking (no clip-on mikes), a big echoey stage, and several mushy choral passages all make for moments of blurred text. English subtitles would have given clarity at a click. Shame on Kultur, the otherwise excellent production company which brought out this DVD, for shirking this small extra expense."
Berkoff's monumental disappointment.
I'm Nobody! Who are you? RU Nobody | Arlington, VA United States | 04/04/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)

"In his interview on the DVD, Steven Berkoff states that he directed this play as a memorial to Oscar Wilde. This is not Oscar Wilde as we think of him. Wilde was lavish and ostentatious. Wilde was sublime in his wit. Berkoff presented a monument to himself only. As Berkoff states, he stripped away all of the props and scenery, the very essence that make Wilde what Wilde is. In truth, Berkoff achieved a monument to "the actor" as supreme being, not a memorial to the author and the intent of the author for this play. Instead of displaying wit, instead of presenting the author's words as intended, instead of presenting the multilayered tragedy of Oscar Wilde's Salome, Berkoff turned a tragedy into comedy. Berkoff's insistance on slow motion movement and slow motion dialog buried any resemblence to Oscar Wilde. It is a farce, a cross between mime and Kabuki that falls flat on its white face in the middle of an empty stage.
Instead of this disgrace to the name of Oscar Wilde, I would recommend that you read Oscar Wilde's play. Or better still, get one of the marvelously done productions of Strauss' opera based on the play. The opera remains close to Wilde's text and is accompanied by superb music. And for culture's sake, stretch yourself with the versions in German.
Sadly, when the only cheese available in the grocery store is Velveeta, all you can do is make macaroni and cheese. Berkoff serves up great macaroni and cheese, but I miss the subtleties to which we are now accustomed in our markets.
While Berkoff's performance is sickening, the female leads eventually abandon his influence enough to salvage reasonable performances. Salome's dance is suitably seductive, and her mad scene becomes believable.
As for Jokanaan, a pilar of salt would be more expressive and more flavorful. He reached right down to the bottom of his soul, and there was nothing but a man in a pit yelling."
Slightly flawed but compelling
John Salonia Jr. | New Jersey | 11/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Visually, this is a stunning production. Steven Berkoff has staged the play along impressionistic lines that are at once compelling yet slightly off-putting. I understand his reasoning for the slow-motion movements of the cast (given in a telling bonus interview), yet the end result is sometimes risible, and contributes to a glacially slow rendition. In fact, not to mince words, this slow-motion approach gives a ridiculous look to the play.

Also, giving the characters a kind of timeless 1920's style of costuming is a bit off-putting too. People in Edwardian garb spouting florid King James-style dialogue tend to look just a tad silly. It is a tribute to Wilde's play that it is compelling even in this rendition.

Also on the minus side is Berkoff's unfortunately comic portrayal of Herod. He correctly chooses to emphasize the character's childish greed, but he does so in a way that sometimes borders on the burlesque. He directs the rest of the cast splendidly, yet fails to reign in his own over-the-top performance. Berkoff too often spits out his lines in a flat hurry, breaking them up with expectant looks directly at the audience, wearing an "Ain't-I-just-too-cute-for-words?" grin on his face. Obviously, he's waiting for the audience to respond to him -- but in a heavily self-conscious manner that breaks the flow of the piece. Berkoff makes a point in his interview of stating that he wanted to preserve Wilde's text intact (a laudable goal), yet rants so much that some of his dialogue becomes sound effects instead of words. This is not to say that he is completely ineffective: however, his spoiled-child approach (and his "C'mon, applaud already" glances at the audience) raises chuckles from the theater audience at moments when a grim silence should have been evoked.

On the plus side is a marvelous stage setting, a wonderful cast (especially Cyr, who is riveting as Salome), and a lighting design that is amost unbelievably well executed. The lighting transitions between Herod's terrace and Jokanaan's pit are cinematic in their sharp effectiveness.

Another wonderful feature is that the video camera captures Cyr's subtle shift of facial expressions, which probably werte largely lost on theatergoers. Here they're preserved in a flawless performance.

All in all, this should not be missed. Despite its flaws , it is a good rendition of Wilde's most difficult play."