David Hugh Jones – The Merry Wives of Windsor (1982)

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Making its debut with Romeo and Juliet on 3 December 1978, and concluding nearly seven years later with Titus Andronicus on 27 April 1985, the BBC Television Shakespeare project was the single most ambitious attempt at bringing the Bard of Avon to the small screen, both at the time and to date.

Producer Cedric Messina was already an experienced producer of one-off television Shakespeare presentations, and was thus ideally qualified to present the BBC with a daunting but nonetheless enticingly simple proposition: a series of adaptations, staged specifically for television, of all 36 First Folio plays, plus Pericles (The Two Noble Kinsmen was considered primarily John Fletcher’s work, and the legitimacy of Edward III was still being debated).

The scale of Messina’s proposal, far greater than that of previous multi-part Shakespeare series such as An Age of Kings (BBC, 1960) and Spread of the Eagle (BBC, 1963), required an American partner in order to guarantee access to the US market, deemed essential for the series to recoup its costs. Time-Life Television agreed to participate, but under certain controversial conditions – that the productions be traditional interpretations of the plays in appropriately Shakespearean period costumes and sets, designed to fit a two-and-a-half-hour time slot. Continue reading

Sergei Yutkevich – Otello (1955)

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İmdb Author: eva25at from Vienna, Austria:
This smart and colorful version of the bard’s play about the green eyed monster jealousy is popular entertainment: it runs like an Errol-Flynn-swashbuckler. Curly-head Desdemona looks like a (ripe) Hollywood starlet and Emilia is equally attractive. Sergei Bondarchuk’s performance remains astonishingly fresh. He is a handsome, commanding presence with a boyish naivity: easy to dupe, but very sexy. Andrei Popov is equally superb as Don Juan like Iago, a fiery-eyed rooster. This film anticipates even the daring relationship of the Laurence Fishburne/ Kenneth Branagh version: In one scene Bondarchuk & Popov coo like turtle-doves. Laurence Olivier’s (now politically incorrect) Othello and Kenneth Branagh’s genial Iago may be unsurpassed, but this soviet version is more entertaining than the moth-eaten Orson Welles film and definitely more intelligent than the Zeffirelli film. Yutkevich won the director award in Cannes! Continue reading

Roman Polanski – The Tragedy of Macbeth (1971)

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Roman Polanski’s version of Shakespeare’s tragedy about a Scottish lord who murders the king and ascends the throne. His wife then begins hallucinating as a result of her guilt complex and the dead king’s son conspires to attack MacBeth and expose him for the murderer he is. Continue reading

John Gorrie – The Tempest (1980)

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Making its debut with Romeo and Juliet on 3 December 1978, and concluding nearly seven years later with Titus Andronicus on 27 April 1985, the BBC Television Shakespeare project was the single most ambitious attempt at bringing the Bard of Avon to the small screen, both at the time and to date.

Producer Cedric Messina was already an experienced producer of one-off television Shakespeare presentations, and was thus ideally qualified to present the BBC with a daunting but nonetheless enticingly simple proposition: a series of adaptations, staged specifically for television, of all 36 First Folio plays, plus Pericles (The Two Noble Kinsmen was considered primarily John Fletcher’s work, and the legitimacy of Edward III was still being debated). Continue reading

Edwin Sherin – King Lear (1974)

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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. Continue reading

Kenneth Branagh – Hamlet (1996)

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Storyline

Hamlet, son of the king of Denmark, is summoned home for his father’s funeral and his mother’s wedding to his uncle. In a supernatural episode, he discovers that his uncle, whom he hates anyway, murdered his father. In an incredibly convoluted plot–the most complicated and most interesting in all literature–he manages to (impossible to put this in exact order) feign (or perhaps not to feign) madness, murder the “prime minister,” love and then unlove an innocent whom he drives to madness, plot and then unplot against the uncle, direct a play within a play, successfully conspire against the lives of two well-meaning friends, and finally take his revenge on the uncle, but only at the cost of almost every life on stage, including his own and his mother’s. Written by John Brosseau Continue reading

Gregory Doran – Macbeth (2001)

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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”.

To make this compelling screen version, Gregory Doran worked with all of the original cast and filmed at London’s Roundhouse. Brilliantly shot by director of photography Ernie Vincze, the production uses the edgy techniques of fly-on-the-wall documentaries. The effect is raw, intimate and strikingly dynamic. Continue reading