Please recommend some Shakespearean adaptations

Discussion in 'Movies' started by JohnRice, Mar 25, 2006.

  1. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Once or twice a year I get on a Shakespeare kick. I like to watch multiple adaptations, often watching difference adaptations of the same play consecutively. I enjoy seeing how the material is handled differently while they are fresh in my mind. I think I'd like to find some new ones though.

    To explain a bit, I believe that they fall into three different categories...

    Literal - These are almost always edited (Branagh's Hamlet and a few BBC productions being the main exceptions) but are not tampered with significantly in any other way.

    Adaptations - Usually edited, but with original dialog. Otherwise, they are transfromed in some way, usually to another time or a non existing time.

    Loose Adaptations - Dialog and setting are changed, but the essence of the story is the same. An important note, probably half the romances ever made could be considered loose adaptations of Romeo & Juliet, so let's keep things reasonable here. I don't think there's need for anyone to waste time explaining how Valley Girl is a loose adaptation of R&J.


    Here is the list of my usual suspects...

    Literal
    Romeo and Juliet - 1968, Franco Zeffirelli
    Hamlet - 1990, Franco Zeffirelli
    Henry V - 1989, Kenneth Branagh

    Adpaptations
    Hamlet - 2000, Michael Almereyda
    Titus - 1999, Julie Taymor
    Richard III - 1995, Richard Loncraine
    Romeo + Juliet - 1996, Baz Luhrmann

    Loose Adaptations
    O - 2001, Tim Blake Nelson
    10 Things I Hate About You - 1999, Gil Junger


    Not on DVD
    Hamlet - 1996, Kenneth Branagh
    Romeo and Juliet - 1936, George Cukor


    So, I'm looking for some good additions. Please list any you suggest and give some info, including what type of adaptation it is. BTW, I'm not really interested in filmed stage productions, such as BBC has often done. Try to keep suggestions to actual theatrical films. Also, I'm mainly interested in the Tragedies, but go ahead and list others if you like.
     
  2. Bill McA

    Bill McA Producer

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    Literal
    The Tragedy of Macbeth - 1971, Roman Polanski
    Richard III - 1955, Laurence Olivier

    Loose Adaptations
    Tempest - 1982, Paul Mazurzky. Not on DVD
    Ran (King Lear) - 1985, Akira Kurosawa
    Throne of Blood (Macbeth) - 1957, Akira Kurosawa
    Theatre of Blood (various Shakespeare death scenes) - 1973, Douglas Hickox
    The Tempest - 1979, Derek Jarman (this might not be to your liking, John [​IMG] )
    Forbidden Planet (Tempest) - 1956, Fred M. Wilcox

    and
    Prospero's Books - 1991, Peter Greenaway. This one falls somewhere between an adaptation and a loose adaptation. Not on DVD [​IMG]
     
  3. Greg_S_H

    Greg_S_H Executive Producer

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    She's The Man - Loose adaptation of Twelfth Night. I wouldn't see it myself, but. . . .
     
  4. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    Probably literal - Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing (1993). It's terrific. [​IMG]
     
  5. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    Excellent. Some I forgot to include, mainly the Kurosawas. I guess I should check out Much Ado.
     
  6. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    Literal: Twelfth Night (1996) Dir: Trevor Nunn.

    Jason
     
  7. Patrick Mason

    Patrick Mason Stunt Coordinator

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    Branagh's Much Ado is definitely worth viewing.

    Kurosawa's The Bad Sleep Well is another of his Shakespearean adaptations, this time with an eye towards Hamlet. It is quite a bit looser with the original material than Ran or Throne of Blood, but excellent nonetheless.


    Patrick
     
  8. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    I'd never even heard of The Bad Sleep Well, which sounds like a mix of Hamlet and Solaris.
     
  9. Patrick Mason

    Patrick Mason Stunt Coordinator

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    Ha, it's more like Hamlet in a post-war Japanese corporation played as a Film Noir. Toshiro Mifune is, as always, fantastic. There is a wonderful Criterion release of the title that I would highly recommend.


    Patrick
     
  10. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    It's in my queue. If not this week, then probably next week. The reason I mentioned Solaris was the factor I read about where the characters are forced to relive their sins. Sounded pretty Solaris to me.
     
  11. Ray H

    Ray H Producer

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    I thought the recent version of The Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Joseph Fiennes was pretty good. The problem I had with the film is probably due to the actual play more than anything.
     
  12. Linda Thompson

    Linda Thompson Supporting Actor

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    Loose adaptation (of "The Taming Of The Shrew"): Kiss Me Kate (1953), George Sidney

    And, while not a movie, I highly recommend the MOONLIGHTING episode "Atomic Shakespeare"...another adaptation of TTOTS. It is generally considered one of the series' high points. (Season 3, Disc 2, if you're renting.)

    "Throne Of Blood" was just on TCM a couple days ago, along with several other Toshiro Mifune films...
     
  13. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    Loose:
    Patrick Stewart's King of Texas (King Lear)
    Scotland, P.A. (Macbeth)
    Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (Stoppard's adaptation of Hamlet)
     
  14. Elijah Sullivan

    Elijah Sullivan Supporting Actor

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    Don't forget Orson Welles' Othello and Falstaff. The man did Shakespeare magnificently well.
     
  15. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Bill noted Oliver’s Richard III and probably just forgot his very excellent Hamlet—another literal interpretation.

    Some others:

    Julius Caesar (1953—Mankiewicz), is for me, a pretty uneven movie, despite (or perhaps because of) an all-star cast. For example, Sir John Gielgud is great as Cassius, but Marlon Brando’s portrayal of Marc Antony is does not work next to his antagonist. Still, you might seek this out, as mine is probably a minority opinion.

    A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935) features James Cagney, as Bottom, Olivia de Havilland as Hermia and Mickey Rooney as a manic Puck. Hollywood at its worst.

    West Side Story (1961—Jerome Robbins), moves Romeo and Juliet to the streets of NYC and has it all—music, dance and tragedy.

    Romeo and Juliet (1968—Franco Zeffirelli) is of course, the same story, and is as fine as Shakespeare gets on film.

    Otello (1986—Zeffirelli) is not misspelled, but rather is a version of Verdi’s opera of the same name, with Placido Domingo in the title role.

    I’ll probably think of some more later.
     
  16. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    King of Texas sounds interesting. I had forgotten that one.

    Some Welles is on the way, plus I have Chimes at Midnight sitting here.

    Lew, I remember hearing about that Midsummer Night's Dream and it sounds too weird to pass up. I'm guessing it's not on DVD anywhere. There sure are a lot of others though.

    Thanks for all the suggestions. Keep them coming?

    Can you believe this? I watched 3 versions of Hamlet yesterday. Zeffirelli, the modern one with Ethan Hawke and a full version with a 42 year old Derek Jacobi from BBC. Plus, Luhrmann's R&J and "O". I think that's the most time I have ever spent watching movies in one day in my entore life. I usually can't tolerate that much. I mean, that's nearly 8 hours of Hamlet alone. I still have Hamlet Goes Business siitting here too.

    :p)
     
  17. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    It could give you a chance to throw-up John. [​IMG]

    I think that it might be available on VHS. I am pretty sure that I caught it on TCM—but the picture quality was pretty poor, so it might have been video.. Not on DVD unless things have changed since I was trying to watch the 30s movies.

    Of course you can wait for it to be released on some hi-def format. [​IMG]
     
  18. Marc Fedderman

    Marc Fedderman Second Unit

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    The 1999 version of A Midsummer Night's Dream (adaptation) is pretty good. A star-studded cast and some seriously sexy babes are the highlights here. Plus, it might be fun to compare it with the version Lew mentioned.

    A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)

    Al Pacino's Looking for Richard doesn't fit neatly into any of your categories, but it offers an illuminating look at Richard III from the standpoint of an actor/director struggling to understand the character and the play. Definitely worth the time.
     
  19. Brian.L

    Brian.L Supporting Actor

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    I don't think anyone has mentioned that Branagh was also in a (decent, IMHO) version of Othello in 1995. Don't think he directed it though. I'd say it falls into the "literal" category, but I haven't seen it in a while so I'm not certain.
     
  20. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

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    Loose Adaptation:

    Switchblade Sisters. I think it's based on "Henry V", but can't remember the Shakespear title. On the DVD, Jack Hill talks about how he based the plot on the play, and Tarantino talks about how Patch is his favorite Iago in any Shakespear adaptaion he's seen.(Shakespear fans should be able to deduce what play it's based on from this, I'm totally brain-farting.)

    The movie itself is a hell of alot of fun.
     

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