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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 …

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 …

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 …

Richard III (Silents Now) @ York Theatre Royal

Regular readers may be interested to know that I manage the Twitter hashtag #shaxfilm, an open online extension of my third year specialist module on Screen Shakespeares. The first film we study on this module is Frank Benson’s 1911 Richard III, filmed at the (then) Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon with a fixed camera, preserving …

Caesar Must Die (dir. Paolo Taviani & Vittorio Taviani)

Italy’s official nomination for the 2013 Best Foreign Language Oscar is an extremely odd beast. Ostensibly a fly-on-the-wall documentary following a group of Italian prisoners putting on a production of Julius Caesar, the film is framed by the climax of the real production, as Salvatore Striano’s Brutus seeks a willing hand on whose sword to …

Much Ado About Nothing (dir. Joss Whedon) @ Shakespeare Association of America conference, Toronto

Joss Whedon introduced a special advance preview screening of his new movie of Much Ado about Nothing last night (alas, via pre-recorded video) with a tribute to the teachers and professors who had instilled him with a love of Shakespeare. In allowing the Shakespeare Association of America annual conference in Toronto to get an early …