Shakespeare and the English-speaking Cinema by Russell Jackson

By Russell Jackson

Shakespeare and the English-speaking Cinema is a full of life, authoritative, and cutting edge assessment of the ways that Shakespeare's performs were tailored for cinema. Organised through themes instead of chronology, it deals certain remark on major motion pictures, together with either 'mainstream' and 'canonical' works by means of such administrators as Laurence Olivier, Orson Welles, Franco Zeffirelli, and Kenneth Branagh, and such ground-breaking videos as Derek Jarman's The Tempest, Baz Luhrmann's William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet and Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books. Chapters at the position of flicks in position and time, the impact of this on characterisation, and problems with gender and political energy are by way of a dialogue of labor that is going 'beyond Shakespeare. A filmography and recommendations for extra interpreting whole this stimulating, clean, and available account of a huge element of Shakespeare reviews.

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Edzard’s refugees have fled from the corporate world (cold, soulless office architecture) to the inhospitable landscape of a vacant lot in London’s as yet undeveloped docklands, where traffic noise and passing aircraft can be heard. Comfort is provided by a bivouac resembling those of the homeless, Audrey runs a snack bar from a caravan, deer are nowhere to be seen, and the sheep population is limited to one. This lonely animal contrasts with the dozen or so in Branagh’s Arden and the considerable flocks that inhabit Czinner’s, a film crowded with tame beasts, including ducks, chickens, geese, swans, a cow and a calf, rabbits, a stork, hunting dogs, and (in two shots) an Old English Sheepdog.

Moreover, in a play in which the feelings of otherness are multiplied among Venetians, the Moor, the Cypriot populace, and the off-screen Turks, Parker fails to create an exotic identity for the castle that stands for Cyprus. ‘Oriental’ motifs in Charlie Mole’s score help, but most of the sense of the exotic has to be generated in the performances, the costuming of Othello, and the set-dressing in the indoor scenes. The recasting of Verona as Verona Beach in Baz Luhrmann’s William Shakespeare’s Romeo+Juliet (1996) fulfils the title’s promise to combine respect for the author with radical revision of the work: the plus sign suggests high-speed modernization.

The Volscians come from a neighbouring country but are dressed more like partisans than their opponents, whose city is tearing itself apart. Rome, an urban centre with major social problems, is ruled and defended by patricians of a kind not seen in Volscian territory. We are not told what the source of the Roman–Volscian conflict might be, but Antium is represented as more benign, with a relaxed street life, and Aufidius is greeted warmly as he passes through the streets. The responsibility of creating a tragic universe has been accepted by some films of Hamlet, Macbeth, and King Lear: the Piranesi-like passages of Olivier’s 1948 Elsinore, the dank, murky Scotland of Welles’ Macbeth – discussed in detail in the next chapter–and the frozen Jutland locations of Peter Brook’s King Lear (1971) make distinctive and forceful interpretative statements, an environment in which existential anxieties and criminal excesses will flourish.

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