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.
Director Rupert Goold's gripping stage production of Macbeth, set in a nameless 20th-century militaristic society and starring Sir Patrick Stewart in his Tony-nominated performance as the ambitious general, and Kate Fleetwood as his coldly scheming wife, has been rethought in vivid filmic terms.