I’ve been thinking a lot about Shakespeare lately. Last week, I saw Since I Suppose, a play inspired by Measure by Measure. Earlier this summer, I saw both Hamlet and Midsummer Night’s Dream. This week, we watched the movie Henry V, and we are going to see Richard III this weekend. Shakespeare enough for you.
If you can’t tell, I’m really into Shakespeare. When I hear about a production, I’ll pretty much go automatically. Recently, I’ve decided that I’m going to see every Shakespeare play live. Some people go to all the states, I want to see all the plays. Movies don’t count. Nor do adaptations that resemble the plot like Since I Suppose. It’s got to be dripping with the language.
So while movies don’t count, I’m going to talk about five Shakespeare movies. I’ll admit that I haven’t seen many. I’ve always preferred live shows to movies. But I’ve been discovering that there are some great movies out there.
- Coriolanus (2011)
This has to be one of my favorite movies. It’s a Shakespeare play that I’m less familiar with. In this movie, Ralph Fiennes plays the lead character and he is brilliant. I’ll admit that I’m not actually a huge fan of his but he managed to blow me away. I also love that they seemed to set the movie in the Balkan States. It’s a nice update. I find it fascinating to watch a man who has done worthy deeds get taken down because he refuses to play politics. Brilliant.
- Much Ado About Nothing (2013)
This is the Joss Whedon production where he filmed it into two weeks at his house. He allegedly called his actor friends to see if they would do it. And I think this movie is pitch perfect. It’s not my favorite play (the Hero plot is disconcerting) but I think Whedon did an amazing job. I don’t think spending any more time or using different actors would have improved it.
- Henry V (2012)
This is part of a British TV series called The Hollow King. Tom Hiddleston plays Henry V. It’s interesting to compare this movie with the production we saw earlier this year at Chicago Shakespeare. The latter focused on Prince Hal more than the King. I really disliked Harry. In this movie, Henry V is much more magisterial. Mr. Hiddleston is a fantastic Henry V. This one is set in its era.
- Richard III (1995)
This is the Ian McKellan production. He plays a fantastic Richard III. However, the movie somehow descends into a bizarre land. They try to fit the play into a fascist world that sort of works, sort of doesn’t. All star cast though.
- Hamlet (1996)
This movie is the Kenneth Branagh version. So far it’s the only Shakespearean movie I’ve seen with the actor. For many years, I had sworn that I would only see Hamlet as a live production. I wouldn’t read it or watch the movie first. Then a production of Hamlet came and went from Chicago Shakespeare so I decided to bite the bullet and watch the movie. I chose a more traditional production of it. And boy, did I hate Hamlet the character. He’s a misogynistic twit. It’s neat to compare it to the Hamlet production I saw this summer. There, Hamlet is actually a bit sympathetic for the first time ever. But the movie is a fine, epic production set in its respective period.
So those are all the Shakespeare movies that I remember seeing. Any suggestions for movies I should see?