William Shakespeare

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 »

Orson Welles – The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice (1952)

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Quote:
Want to be daring? Try watching Othello without the sound. The assembly of magnificent compositions that Welles has put together for his Othello is nothing short of astounding. Welles finds angles where they never existed before and extracts from the text, so elegant in word, a visual power unmatched by other Shakespearean movies. The heritage from Citizen Kane to Touch of Evil is evident in this stylistic tour-de-force.

Welles is an imposing Othello. Painted with shadows and light, Welles moves regally through the castle sets and strides powerfully along the beach or atop the ramparts. As Iago, Michael Mac Liammoir, the Irish stage actor, is quite creepy. His vast stage experience perhaps affects his performance in front of the camera too much, but the result is highly effective under Welles’ guiding camera and brilliant editing. Read More »

Thea Sharrock – ‘As You Like It’ at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre (2010)

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Rosalind, the daughter of a banished duke, falls in love with Orlando at a wrestling match, but her usurping uncle, jealous of her popularity, banishes her from court. Disguised as a boy she seeks out her father and his friends in the Forest of Arden. Here she meets Orlando again and, under the guise of a young man, counsels him in the art of love.

Directed by Thea Sharrock
Designed by Dick Bird
Music composed by Stephen Warbeck
Choreographed by Fin Walker

Recorded live at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, London, in October 2009. Read More »

Matías Piñeiro – La princesa de Francia AKA The Princess of France (2014)

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Victor returns to Buenos Aires after a stay in Mexico for his father’s death to prepare a radio production of “Love’s Labour’s Lost.” Reuniting with his repertory, he finds himself sorting out complicated entanglements with girlfriend Paula, sometime lover Ana, and departed actress Natalia, as well as his muddled relations with the constellation of friends involved with the project. As the film tracks the group’s crisscrossing movements and interactions, their lives become increasingly enmeshed with the fiction they’re reworking, potential outcomes multiply, and reality itself seems subject to transformation. An intimate work that takes characters and viewers alike into dizzying realms of possibility, The Princess of France is the most ambitious film yet from one of world cinema’s brightest young talents, a cumulatively thrilling experience. Read More »