William Shakespeare

Julie Taymor – Titus (1999)

Titus returns victorious from war, only to plant the seeds of future turmoil for himself and his family. Read More »

Grigori Kozintsev & Iosif Shapiro – Korol Lir AKA King Lear (1971)

King Lear, old and tired, divides his kingdom among his daughters, giving great importance to their protestations of love for him. When Cordelia, youngest and most honest, refuses to idly flatter the old man in return for favor, he banishes her and turns for support to his remaining daughters. But Goneril and Regan have no love for him and instead plot to take all his power from him. In a parallel, Lear’s loyal courtier Gloucester favors his illegitimate son Edmund after being told lies about his faithful son Edgar. Madness and tragedy befall both ill-starred fathers. Read More »

Thomas Ostermeier – Hamlet (2008)

Hamlet is going crazy. His father has died suddenly of a strange disease, and his mother has married her deceased husband’s brother, of all people, after just one month. Hamlet has nighttime visions of his father, who claims his brother poisoned him, and exhorts Hamlet to take revenge and kill his new stepfather. Hamlet acts the part of the crazy man in order to hide his plans, and loses his grip on reality in the process. The whole world becomes a stagnant swamp to him. Desire and sexuality become a threatening abyss. The friends surrounding him turn out to be spies deployed by his stepfather to keep an eye on him. Read More »

Sergei Yutkevich – Otello (1955)

The Moorish general Othello is manipulated into thinking that his new wife Desdemona has been carrying on an affair with his lieutenant Michael Cassio when in reality it is all part of the scheme of a bitter ensign named Iago.

Review by The Little Songbird @IMDb:
I have always loved the poetry and intensity of Shakespeare’s dialogue in Othello, and I have also found the play one of his more dramatically concise ones. This Othello from Russia is excellent, and very interesting as well. It is handsome to look at, the photography flows nicely and the locations are splendid. The symbolic palette to emphasise Othello’s contrasts between physical and temperamental is also interestingly used. The film is smartly written and intelligently adapted and it is directed beautifully by Sergei Yutkevitch. Read More »

Laurence Olivier – Hamlet (1948)

Olivier’s Hamlet is the Shakespeare film that has received the most prestigious accolades, winning the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Actor. However, it was poorly received by Shakespearean purists, who felt that Olivier had made too many alterations and excisions to the four-hour play by cutting nearly two hours worth of content. Read More »

Laurence Olivier – Richard III [+Commentary] (1955)

Plot: Richard III is a 1955 British film adaptation of William Shakespeare’s historical play of the same name, also incorporating elements from his Henry VI, Part 3. It was directed and produced by Sir Laurence Olivier, who also played the lead role. The cast includes many noted Shakespearean actors, including a quartet of acting knights. The film depicts Richard plotting and conspiring to grasp the throne from his brother King Edward IV, played by Sir Cedric Hardwicke. In the process, many are killed and betrayed, with Richard’s evil leading to his own downfall. The prologue of the film states that history without its legends would be “a dry matter indeed”, implicitly admitting to the artistic licence that Shakespeare applied to the events of the time. Read More »

Laurence Olivier – The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fifth with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France AKA Henry V (1944)

Synopsis:
Laurence Olivier’s adaptation of Henry V is one of the finest Shakespeare films ever made, full of rousing action, beautiful colors and passionate performances. Henry V is the story of the newly crowned king of England who fights the French for possession of Normandy. Olivier’s direction is inventive, beginning the film as if it were a performance at the Globe Theatre, and having it slowly expand so the final battle scenes take place in realistic settings. Released in 1944 during the height of World War II, Henry V didn’t receive an American release until 1946, upon which Olivier won a special Academy Award for “his outstanding achievement as actor, producer and director in bringing Henry V to the screen.”
— Stephen Erlewine Read More »