Shakespeare Goes to the Movies
Shakespeare would no doubt be uber-wealthy from selling screen rights had he lived so long to see all his plays adapted to the screen. In fact, I wonder how many students realize that all those adaptations have a primary source in the form of stage? Shakespeare was indeed a playwright and not a screenwriter, yet it is difficult to realize that fact with so many adaptations running around in the cinemas. It’s fairly safe to say that a Shakespeare-driven plot comes out at least once during the year.
With that all out of the way, you can imagine my delight when I came across a website devoted to all the film versions of Shakespeare. It groups them by play and 176 pages you get the idea how much influence old Billy the Bard on Hollywood. The Hamlet section only is nearly 20 pages!
Oh yeah–this is another Library of Congress find. Have I gushed enough about how the Library of Congress so absolutely rocks?
This treasury of Shakespeare is not just films. It includes the serious to the silly. Having just finished our AP rundown of Hamlet and Co, I found some select entries for our favorite Prince of Denmark:
HAMLET (Icon Productions/Warner Bros., 1990). Dir Franco Zeffirelli. Wrt Christopher De Vore,
Zeffirelli. With Mel Gibson (Hamlet), Glenn Close (Gertrude), Alan Bates (Claudius), Paul Scofield (The Ghost), Ian Holm (Polonius), Helena Bonham-Carter (Ophelia).
1 videodisc of 1 (laser), ca. 135 min, sd, color, 12 in. LC Purchase Collection. DAA 3087.
HAMLET–CLAUDIUS (ACTOR, A Center for Theatre, Education, and Research, University of California, Santa Barbara/Barr Films, 1991). Series: Shakespeare Explorations with Patrick Stewart. Artistic Director: Patrick Stewart. Technical Director/Editor: Ray Tracy.
1 videocassette of 1 (VHS), 25 min, sd, color, 1/2 in. Copyright Collection. VAD 3701.
Produced for educational use (college level). Patrick Stewart discusses and acts selected parts of the play portraying the character of King Claudius. (VHS)
TALES FROM THE CRYPT. TOP BILLING (Tales From the Crypt Holdings/HBO, 6/26/1991). Dir Todd Holland. Wrt Myles Berkowitz. With Jon Lovitz, Bruce Boxleitner, John Astin, Louise Fletcher, Kimmy Robertson.
1 videocassette of 1, 28 min, sd, color, 3/4 in. Copyright Collection. VBI 9816.
Episode from the 3rd season of the horror anthology series based on the comic books published by
William Gaines in the 1950’s. A failed actor (Lovitz), who cannot get work because he doesn’t have “the look,” answers a casting call for Hamlet only to find himself chosen for the part of Yorick’s skull in a staging of the play by inmates of an insane asylum. (DVD – on Tales from the Crypt–The Complete Third Season)
GREEN EGGS AND HAMLET (Rock’s Eye Productions, 1995). Dir Mike O’Neal. Wrt O’Neal, Chris
Springfield. With Allen Corcorran (Hamlet), Ronald H. Cohen (The King), Richard “Humus” Doherty (The Queen), Josh “Coppertone” Powlesson (Laertes), Robert A. Knop, Jr. (Polonius), Siobhán F. Jess (Ophelia), David Seal (Rosencrantz & Guildenstern), Richard James Mason Horatio).
1 videocassette of 1 (VHS), ca. 77 min, sd, color, 1/2 in. Copyright Collection. VAE 6461.
Got a hankering for a Titus or a Midsummer Night’s Dream? Check it out Shakespeare on Film