BFI Screen Guides: 100 Shakespeare Films

Author: Daniel Rosenthal

Yes!  There have been that many Shakespeare adaptations… and then some!

This book has been divided up by play, and then each play lists the films chronologically which makes it extremely user friendly. Each section starts with a description of what the play is about which also helps. You also get to find out which actors and directors have returned to the bard on a regular basis. Did you know Charlton Heston played Marc Anthony in Julius Caesar twice, twenty years apart!

Beyond this there are films listed that draw from Shakespeare’s text like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead which is a story that leaps in and out of Hamlet from a parallel perspective.

The writing is very concise but still manages to be critical. Each piece contemplates the fullness of lack of the text used and gives a general opinion from not just the author by critics of the time as well. It’s a nice guide on to get to grasps with the approach taken on each film, and also of its final quality.

Still not everyone is a Shakespeare snob and would much prefer a 90 minute version of Hamlet as opposed to a 4 hour version – so opinion tends to back up the Bard, as opposed to the mainstream cinema. Not a bad thing for those serious on the subject, but worth keeping in mind.

Steven Hurst

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