Shakespearean Movies and Television

I love shakespearean adaptations of all kinds. What are your fav film and television adaptations of Shakespeare?

Here’s some of my fav versions of some of the Plays(I will post them as seperate replies):

Hamlet - with Laurence Olivier:
Although this version butchers the text, removing some intergral elements and themes(such as the Fortinbras subplot that overshadows the events occuring within Elsinor), it has a powerfully brooding cloudy atmosphere that terrifies, thrills and inspires. What remains of the text is brilliantly performed and skillfully edited together. It is an abridged version that somewhat focuses on the Action and “sexy” moments of the play(Olivier performs a dangerously climactic stunt in the final fencing fight, leaping from the top floor… and his mother looks 10 years younger than he is, making the bedroom scene “interesting” indeed), but remains an artistic triumph.

Hamlet - with Ethan Hawke:
Abrigement occurs also in this version, but it is not at the expense of the Plot that, in just over 100 minutes, remains entirly intact. Instead what is abridged here is purely the dialog, it is reedited to focus on Hamlet’s famous speeches, and is presented in a reimagined modernistic “bohemian” manner, Hamlet is a Film student who loves recording a visual “diary” of his thoughts. The Play does’nt begin here with the opening scene(which is moved to about 10 minutes into the film), instead it begins with parts of the “To be or not to be” speech, later returned to in the film when Hawke’s character wanders through the Action movies section of a Video shop in New York. This whole “Bohemian arthouse” style is used throughout the film denying the film any sort of “thriller” status(unlike olivier’s version), as it becomes a meditative dramatic peice, with occasional thrilling moments. But it has very strong merits.

It is very original in transposing the play’s themes into the politics of Business, it is very original in turning the setting into a large metropolis(instead of a clostrophobic Castle), and this reviewer adored Julia Stiles arrival as a serious actress in her portrayal of Ophelia, perhaps the best version yet because she seems to be the only truly belivable one. Perhaps the major gripe was Bill Murray, he clearly struggles with the dialog.

Hamlet - Kenneth Branaugh:
This version is an Epic. Not only is it the complete play, but it also is shot on 70mm film, has beautiful costume design, is set in a magnificent “elsinor”, has plenty of action, plenty of music, and has a fantastic “dream” core cast. This is worth watching on the Big Screen with an “old school” intermission. It took alot of nerve and clout for Branaugh to adapt it unabriged like that. He refuses to remove the play’s weaker elements and adds a few weak spots of his own(mostly due to his “Celebrity” filled supporting cast, and an adequate but tight budget). But for it’s sheer pagentry, near perfect portrayal of the lead character, full text, and the fact that it finally erased the bad memory of Mel Gibson’s version, it’s one of the best Shakespeare adaptions. Perfect for showing to english literature students in school.

Hmmm … in terms of Hamlet, I haven’t seen Ethan Hawke’s version, but I agree the moodiness of Laurence Olivier’s is excellent. Kenneth Branagh made a movie version as well - one was full-length, the other a bit ‘abridged’ as well. I though they were good.

Branagh’s Henry V is great, he actually looks, as Henry V seems to have been, a rough-and-tumble soldier who didn’t particularly care for appearances, and who in fact as a young man was something of a ‘black sheep’ and hung around with real scoundrels.

And his 'Much Ado about nothing (I believe with then-wife Emma Thompson) was also great.

Zeffirelli did a good ‘Romeo and Juliet’ back in the day with real teenagers in the leads. And his ‘Taming of the Shrew’ (just adore that play!) with Burton and Liz Taylor was fantastic.

Mind you, I also like some of the more ‘out there’ adaptations. There was a great "Richard III’ with (I think) Ian McKellen, and I have a soft spot for Baz Luhrman’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ as well, although I didn’t really like Leonardo di Caprio as Romeo.

Henry V is the reason why I started this thread… I saw it last night on video.

The 1968 Romeo and Juliet is one of my favorite movies ever. I don’t even like the play all that much, but for some reason, in that film version, it’s just so beautiful. And I love The Taming of the Shrew. Taylor and Burton are hilarious. I somewhat like the 1990 Hamlet with Mel Gibson, but I’ve never seen that play live or in any other screen adaptation, so I want to see others!

‘Non nobis domine, domine …’ … bewdiful sniff

I know that Kenneth Branagh did not direct this one, but I really like the Othello where Kenneth Branagh plays Iago. It’s excellent.

I love Laurence Olivier, but I could not enjoy his Hamlet. The butchering of the text was too much for me. But I really appreciate the Taylor-Burton performance of The Taming of the Shrew.

My 6-year-old’s favorite is Branagh’s adaption of Love’s Labours Lost.

Hamlet with Richard Burton and Hume Cronyn. I also like MacBeth with Maurice Evans and Judith Anderson. The Taming of the Shrew with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. King Lear with James Earl Jones.

Oh yes, the one with Laurence Fishburne as Othello. Very good it was.

My two favorite adaptations are Branagh’s Hamlet and Nunn’s Twelfth Night.

The first Shakespearean movie adaptation I ever saw was Zeffirelli’s “Romeo and Juliet” when I was about 14. I had read the play at 10 which I liked, but didn’t quite get, so I didn’t read it again until I was in 8th grade we were studying it for class. The teacher then had us watch the movie. I was hooked on Shakespeare ever since and the movie holds a special place in my heart. I’ve probably watched the movie since then about 20 times. It was cinematically so beautiful, most of the actors were very good and Olivia Hussey (although I never could get over her raspy voice) in my 14-year-old’s opinion was just the perfect Juliet in looks and age. I really wanted her hair. LOL.

I absolutely loved Branaugh’s “Henry V” with Branaugh as Henrey V and his then wife Emma Thompson as Katherine. He just seemed to capture the essence of the play so well in that movie. I think it is probably one of the best movie adaptations of a Shakespearean play.

I have never seen Olivier’s Hamlet, just his monologue, so I can’t give an opinion on the movie, itself. I saw Gibson’s “Hamlet” in high school and liked it then, but I’d have to watch it again to see if I’d like it now. I haven’t seen Branaugh’s yet, but would be interested in it.

I actually enjoyed Radford’s “The Merchant of Venice”. The only other “film” adaptation I’ve ever experienced for this play was a very abridged version that my girlfriends and I filmed for a high school Shakespeare project, and I can tell you that wasn’t very good. :stuck_out_tongue:

Branaugh’s “As You Like It” was good and very cute. I didn’t think I would like how it was set in 19th century Japan, but that all just melted away as the play went on.

I also liked his “Much Ado About Nothing” more so for the main characters of Beatrice (Thompson) and Benedict (Branaugh) and then for the smaller supporting characters. But I didn’t care for the acting of Keanu Reeves, Denzel Washington (and I really love him as an actor in most of his other movies) and Robert Shawn Leonard (and I had an ENORMOUS crush on him at the time ever since I saw him in “Dead Poets Society” as a little girl.)

Taylor and Burton’s “The Taming of the Shrew” was such a hoot. I loved it.

The Rome and Juliet adaptation with Di Caprio and Danes was one I never could like. I just didn’t enjoy either one of them as the characters.

Branaugh’s “Twelth Night” was also enjoyable.

I’d love to see a great adaptation of King Lear. :thumbsup:

Try “Ran” by Akira Kurosawa.

This was superb although it naturally altered much of the Play, obviously changing the dialog to Japanese, but it also changed the 3 daughters into 3 Sons. Nevertheless it’s one of the great epic Shakesperean movies ever made.

It transposes the spirit and themes of the tragic play to feudal Japan. the music is very haunting, especially in the “silent movie” war sequence.

Cool!!! I will definitely check it out.

Which one was that? I would hate to think I had missed it! You don’t mean the one with Imogen Stubbs, do you? That one is, I am sure, Trevor Nunn.

You are right. It was Trevor Nunn. I was on this Branaugh kick and inadvertently kept typing his name. :o

Yes, I love that Twelfth Night production. My daughters all enjoy the Branagh As You Like It. I think it goes slowly in spots, but it is overall well-done. And the Henry V that started this thread is also excellent.

I will admit that I could not slog through the Mel Gibson Hamlet. I had seen the Branagh one first, and when I came to watch it, the editing of the text was just too much for me.

I have this deep desire to see the Hamlet with Derek Jacobi as Hamlet and Patrick Stewart as Claudius. That would be so cool. I still haven’t found a copy, though.

Does anyone know of any good productions of Measure for Measure? And has anyone besides me ever seen the Romeo and Juliet where Susan Sarandon played Juliet?

Actually Branaugh directed a version of it for TV.

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