William Shakespeare

Julie Taymor – The Tempest (2010)

Adaptation of Shakespeare’s play. Prospera, the female form of the male role in the original story, is banished from Milan by her brother. She finds herself stranded on an island with her four-year-old daughter and the beast Caliban. After 12 years of isolation, she gets the chance to take her revenge on her sibling, by causing a storm that wrecks his ship and strands those on board. Show less Read More »

Roman Polanski – The Tragedy of Macbeth (1971)

A ruthlessly ambitious Scottish lord seizes the throne with the help of his scheming wife and a trio of witches. Read More »

Tony Richardson – Hamlet (1969)

From IMDB
The opening moments in any production of Hamlet are critical because the audience, assuming they know the play fairly well, will already be asking the ‘How are they going to do…’ question. It’s the ghost. Hamlet senior. What is he going to look like? In a film, it’s an even bigger challenge, because some people watching might expect a special effect. The approach here is a shot of bright light across the young Dane’s face and his voice echoing through the frame. The style of the film is already crystallised. It’s not about the surroundings or set dressing. It’s about the emotion of the piece, the words. In this key moment we are looking in his eyes as he hear’s his fathers words, and that’s a device used throughout the piece. Read More »

Joseph L. Mankiewicz – Julius Caesar (1953)

Synopsis:
Brutus is convinced by a scheming band of Roman senators, led by Caius Cassius, that his dear friend Julius Caesar intends to dissolve the republic and install himself as monarch, and he joins a conspiracy to assassinate him. Brutus stirringly defends his actions, but when Mark Antony responds with a speech that plays upon the crowd’s love for their fallen leader, a battle between the two factions is assured. Read More »

Kenneth Branagh – Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

Young lovers Hero and Claudio, soon to wed, conspire to get verbal sparring partners and confirmed singles Benedick and Beatrice to wed as well. Read More »

Al Pacino – Looking for Richard (1996)

Looking for Richard (1996)

A workshop of William Shakespeare’s Richard III inspires actor-director Al Pacino’s breezy documentary, which aims to make the playwright accessible to contemporary American audiences. Though a noteworthy cast of stage actors and Hollywood stars (including Kevin Spacey, Winona Ryder, and Alec Baldwin) gathers to work on the play, Looking for Richard does not present a straightforward filmed version of the scheming, deformed king’s rise and fall. Instead, Pacino turns the cameras on the rehearsal process and his own exploration of Shakespeare’s history and meaning. Scenes in full costume alternate with readings in street clothes, while interviews gather the opinions on the Bard of everyone from renowned scholars and Shakespearean actors to random New Yorkers. A trip to England allows brief visits to Shakespeare’s birthplace and the Globe Theater, but Pacino’s focus remains on the United States and his desire to prove that American actors can act the plays without mimicking their British counterparts. Clearly a labor of love for Pacino, the film benefits from his passionate persona and direct, no-nonsense attitude; while the performances may vary in quality, the film manifests a refreshingly casual, unpretentious, and enthusiastic approach to Shakespeare. – allmovie.com Read More »

Orson Welles – The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice [European Version] (1952)

Winner of Grand Prix du Festival International du Film 1952 Festival de Cannes

Criterion Collection writes:
Gloriously cinematic despite its tiny budget, Orson Welles’s Othello is a testament to the filmmaker’s stubborn willingness to pursue his vision to the ends of the earth. Unmatched in his passionate identification with Shakespeare’s imagination, Welles brings his inventive visual approach to this enduring tragedy of jealousy, bigotry, and rage, and also gives a towering performance as the Moor of Venice, alongside Suzanne Cloutier as the innocent Desdemona, and Micheál MacLiammóir as the scheming Iago. Shot over the course of three years in Italy and Morocco and plagued by many logistical problems, this fiercely independent film joins Macbeth and Chimes at Midnight in making the case for Welles as the cinema’s most audacious interpreter of the Bard. Read More »