// Archives

Black (dir. Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah) @ Broadway Cinema

Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah’s Black is painful and upsetting. It’s hardly the first film to reimagine Romeo and Juliet as an urban gang war, a setting that reappears from West Side Story to Romeo and Juliet in Harlem, and canonised as a reading by Baz Luhrmann’s inescapable film (quoted visually here in a …

The Wars of the Roses (RSC/Illuminations) on DVD

The Wars of the Roses is one of those iconic productions – like Peter Brook’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream – that I never expected to get a chance to watch in full. Peter Hall and John Barton’s three-part condensation of the first tetralogy of history plays was one of the resounding triumphs of the young …

The Hollow Crown: Henry VI Part 1 @ The BBC

Given the relative monarchism and conservatism that often marks the BBC’s Shakespeare adaptations, it’s quite something to hear the new Hollow Crown beginning with Judi Dench in voiceover intoning choice excerpts of Ulysses’ famous ‘degree’ speech from Troilus and Cressida. With a slight pause before them, the words “Take but degree away, and mark what …

MUSE OF FIRE (A Shakespeare Odyssey) on DVD

MUSE OF FIRE is an unlikely film. Two British actors, Dan Poole and Giles Terera, begin from the premise that Shakespeare is scary, offputting, difficult, and decide to ‘overcome their fears’ by undertaking a road trip taking in London, Stratford, Elsinore, Madrid, Yale and Hollywood ‘to discover everything they can about tackling Shakespeare, recognized by many …

Macbeth @ Hyde Park Cinema, Leeds

Justin Kurzel’s new film of Macbeth, one of the most frequently filmed of all Shakespeare’s plays, arrives carrying with it the threat of modishness. Capitalising on the success of the Game of Thrones ‘medieval’ aesthetic template, and starring the so-hot-right-now Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, themselves successful arthouse/mainstream crossover actors, the film’s formula for artistic …

Bill @ The Light, Leeds

Bill, the first big-screen venture from the team behind the phenomenally popular Horrible Histories television series, is perhaps the most British film since Paddington. Characters complain repeatedly about London house prices; aspiring artists are told to grow up and get a proper job (Anne Hathaway presumably running for Schools Minister…); foreigners landing on the English …

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Theatre for a New Audience) @ Nottingham Broadway

I’m yet, to my memory, to see a professional Shakespeare production in the US, so the decision to film and broadcast Julie Taymor’s spectacular thrust-stage take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a welcome one. Notwithstanding Spiderman (and perhaps that show’s cataclysmic production history unfairly detracts from the ambition and achievement therein), Taymor’s proven ability …

Romeo and Juliet in Harlem (dir. Aleta Chapelle) @ Warwick Arts Centre Cinema

The second of the two films in Warwick’s annual Shakespeare Film Day was a very special occasion – the first screening in the UK (probably) of the first Shakespeare film made by an African-American woman. Aleta Chappelle’s most significant feature as director to date, which used a crowd-funded trailer to attract funding, is a low budget …

Haider (dir. Vishal Bhardwaj) @ Warwick Arts Centre Cinema

The third of Vishal Bhardwaj’s trilogy of Indian Shakespeare adaptations, following Maqbool and the excellent Omkara, is his most ambitious yet, and possibly the most aggressively political Shakespeare film I have ever seen. The film, set at the height of troubles in Kashmir in 1995, has been the subject of a huge amount of controversy, …

Now: In The Wings on a World Stage @ The Broadway, Nottingham

Almost twenty years after Al Pacino had the odd idea of making a documentary about rehearsing a production of Richard III that never actually happened, and releasing Looking for Richard in cinemas, comes the second film about the processes and personalities behind a version of the play. Now follows an actual production, the Bridge Project’s …