August 21, 2006, by Peter Kirwan

The Film Festival

I’m not in Stratford today, which is starting to seem like a relatively rare occurrence!

I thought I’d quickly mention another aspect of the Complete Works Festival that ended yesterday- The Film Festival. A huge outdoor screen has been set up in Stratford for the last three weekends, showing six Shakespeare films as an nod to a major aspect of contemporary Shakespearean performance.

I didn’t go to any of the screenings, mostly because they happen at 9pm and it’s impossible to get back home afterwards, but also because I have an intimidatingly extensive Shakespeare film collection- 73 of them! (I actually can’t believe that when I say it, so just recounted them). I love Shakespeare on film, and it’s been a big part of my academic work so far. They range from classics by Laurence Olivier and Orson Welles to modern takes by Kenneth Branagh and Baz Lurhmann, Japanese films by Kurosawa, the entire BBC Shakespeare collection and contemporary remakes of plays such as ‘My Own Private Idaho’ and ‘Ten Things I Hate About You’. There are some truly great films out there, and the Festival has shown some of the best.

ROMEO + JULIET directed by Baz Lurhmann

Everyone knows this! Shakespeare for the ‘MTV generation’, a sexy and fast-paced movie, so much in the general consciousness that GCSE students, asked how Romeo dies, said, “He drowned on the Titanic”.

HENRY V directed by Laurence Olivier

The classic, made to celebrate a moment of national pride and patriotism as Britain fought in World War II.

FORBIDDEN PLANET directed by Fred McLeod Wilcox

A sci-fi remake of ‘The Tempest’, with the iconic Robbie The Robot taking the part of Ariel.

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE directed by Michael Radford

A recent interpretation of the film, set in period Venice and featuring Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons and Joseph Fiennes.

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM directed by William Dieterle and Mac Reinhardt

A film version of Reinhardt’s seminal stage production, with a heavy ballet slant and beautiful choreography.

MACBETH directed by Roman Polanski

A gory production, one of the most famous ‘Macbeth’s. And bizarrely funded by Playboy magazine and produced by Hugh Heffner!

I’m disappointed I didn’t get to attend any of the screenings, as they sounded like fun events, with even a pig roast in the theatre gardens! Did anyone out there get to go?

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