William Shakespeare

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 »

Edwin Sherin – King Lear (1974)

Quote:
This historic 1974 recording of King Lear brings to audiences today both a great production of Shakespeare’s classic, but also a performance of towering brilliance from the formidable James Earl Jones. This recording, made at Joseph Papp’s legendary open air New York Shakespeare Festival, also captures the brilliant performances from the late Raul Julia, alongside a great cast that includes Paul Sovrino, Ellen Holly, Rosalind Cash, and Lee Chamberlain. Read More »

Gregory Doran – Macbeth (2001)

Antony Sher and Harriet Walter star in a highly-acclaimed screen version of William Shakespeare’s classic story of tyranny and ambition.

On the stage this Royal Shakespeare Company presentation was universally lauded. Following sell-out seasons at Stratford’s Swan Theatre and in London, the production played in Japan and in the United States, where The New York Times praised director Gregory Doran’s interpretation as a “harrowing and disturbingly funny parable for the dawn of the 21st century”. Read More »