William Shakespeare introduced the world to the costs of hesitation, hasty judgment and ambition - fatal flaws that destroyed heroes and those they loved. In Shakespeare's most well-known tragedies - Hamlet and Macbeth - even the good characters receive no relief from the complex cruelty of life.
Why do these plays remain important? The heroes are all too real, their flaws valid. His tales are entertaining. Humorous even when they are tragic, personal even when inconceivable.
Watch Great Performances' full productions of Hamlet and Macbeth. Then go behind-the-scenes: interviews with master actor Patrick Stewart, a peek at the making of a stage-to-television production and a Supreme Court Justice's trial of Hamlet.
Shakespeare's immortal "To be, or not to be" takes on a whole new meaning (and medium) as classical stage and screen actors David Tennant and (recently-knighted) Sir Patrick Stewart reprise their roles for a modern-dress, film-for-television adaptation of the Royal Shakespeare Company's (RSC) 2008 stage production of Hamlet.