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.