Documentary exploring the rich, global history of Shakespeare in the cinema, with a treasure trove of film extracts and archival interviews with their creators.
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Since the invention of cinema, over a century ago,
Shakespeare's plays have often been adapted for the big screen.
But it took 50 years for his work to be turned into a truly cinematic experience.
When audiences first saw Laurence Olivier's film of Henry V
they were presented with a vision of Elizabethan London
and a faithful recreation of a stage performance in 1600.
In the chorus's opening speech, Shakespeare invites us
to use the imagination of our mind's eye to overcome
the limitations of the theatre.
O, for a muse of fire,
that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention, a kingdom for
a stage, princes to act and monarchs to behold a swelling scene!
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
assume the port of Mars and at his heels, leash'd in like hounds,
would famine, sword and fire crouch for employment.
But pardon, gentles all, the flat unraised spirits that
hath dared on this unworthy scaffold to bring forth so great an object.
Can this cockpit hold the vasty fields of France?
Or may we cram within this wooden O the very casques that did
affright the air at Agincourt?
As far as I was concerned, it may as well be the first Shakespeare
film so, as far as I was concerned, it was the first Shakespeare film.
Olivier used the camera's eye to take us
from a deliberately stylised world of medieval sets...
..to the glorious cinematic reality of the fields of Agincourt.
On location with a cast of hundreds and filmed in rich Technicolor.
Olivier's example inspired film-makers worldwide
to make boldly cinematic versions of Shakespeare's plays.
In Japan, Macbeth was reinvented as a fantastical samurai drama
with the clash of swords replaced by a hailstorm of arrows.
In Russia, Hamlet was interpreted as one man's struggle
against tyranny, filmed on an epic scale,
Soviet style, with a towering ghost to match.
And Romeo and Juliet was given a sumptuous youthful treatment
in sun-drenched Italy, in tune with the rebellious spirit of the '60s.
None of these films would have been possible without Olivier
leading the way.
I was very snobby about films.
I did them to make money and said so, all over the place
much to the disgust of the Sam Goldwyns of this world.
But the man who changed me was the man I quarrelled with most
bitterly of all, really, and that was William Wyler.
He told me that I must understand there wasn't anything that
could not be done in that medium, if you found the way to do it
and it was he who persuaded me
that you could even do Shakespeare successfully on film.
When Olivier made Henry V, Britain had survived the Blitz
and the threat of invasion but was still at war with Nazi Germany.
Winston Churchill himself instructed Britain's
greatest actor to make the film both to boost morale
and to defend British culture.
Olivier gave rousing speeches to inspire the Armed Forces.
His declamatory manner determined how he would play Henry V.
We will go forward,
hearts, nerve and spirit steel,
we were attacked, we must smite our foes!
We will conquer!
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips, straining upon the start.
The game's afoot. Follow your spirit,
and upon this charge, cry, "God for Harry, England, and Saint George!"
-God for Harry, England, and Saint George!
-God for Harry, England, and Saint George!
Henry V was a massive success.
Bringing Shakespeare to people who had never
seen his plays in the theatre.
Olivier was encouraged to follow it with the first feature
film of Hamlet.
Shakespeare's most psychologically complex play.
Filming in atmospheric black and white,
Olivier used even more ambitious cinematic techniques to
translate Shakespeare uniquely for the screen.
When Hamlet delivers the most famous soliloquy of all,
Olivier places himself high up on a cliff above the sea, speaking
both directly and in a voice-over to allow us to enter
the character's turbulent mind.
or not to be?
That is the question.
Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings
and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take
arms against a sea of troubles
and by opposing...
Shakespeare's play at full length runs four hours.
Olivier found a thematic device which enabled him
to reduce the play to a manageable cinematic length.
Freud's psychology was fashionable at the time
and Olivier chose to interpret the central story of Hamlet's
mother marrying his murdered father's brother
through the Oedipus complex.
A morbid obsession of a son for his mother.
Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet. I pray thee, stay with us.
-Go not to Wittenberg.
-I shall in all my best obey you, madam.
Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply be as ourself in Denmark.
It at least gave one a central idea which seemed to fulfil
the great vacuum provided by all the crossed ideas about Hamlet,
what he really was, what he really wasn't,
whether he was a man of action, whether he wasn't a man of action.
Now, he could perfectly safely be a man of action under
the auspices of that particular idea.
Something is rotten in the State of Denmark.
I liked the atmosphere of this film.
This mysterious geography,
you could not determine the shape of the castle,
the floor on which this camera gliding through these corridors.
I loved the performances. Every single one of them.
I love the photography and the music. Just everything about it.
An inspiration to film-makers around the world, Hamlet was a
And the first British production to win the Oscar for best picture.
In the same year, across the Atlantic, the precocious actor
and director Orson Welles made a dark savage version of Macbeth.
The maverick film-maker had become ostracised in Hollywood,
obliging him to work on poverty-row resources.
Of course, the style of it was entirely dictated,
it was done as a...as a B picture, quickie.
I thought I'd have a great success with it and then I'd be allowed to
do all kinds of difficult things, as long as they were cheap.
But, it was a big critical failure.
The biggest critical failure ever I'd had.
Welles' passion for Shakespeare,
which had begun by directing his plays in the theatre, was unabated.
Unloved by Hollywood, he moved to Europe where his genius has
always been recognised.
He had no qualms casting himself as Othello, the imperious Moor
destroyed by jealousy,
like Olivier, Welles realised the potential cinema
gave for location and with his dynamic framing and rapid-fire
editing, he brought an entirely new energy to filming Shakespeare.
-I swear 'tis better to be much abused than but to know't a little.
-Is my Lord angry?
He went hence but now, Iago, and certainly in strange unquietness.
I will go seek him. There's matter indeed if he be angry.
When Iago goads Othello, crashing waves underscore
the intensity of the scene.
Villain, be sure thou proves my love a whore, be sure of it.
Give me the ocular proof
Or by the worth of man's immortal soul, thou hadst been better
have been born a dog than answer my waked wrath!
-Make me to see't, or, at the least, so prove it, that the probation
bear no hinge nor loop to hang a doubt on, nor woe upon thy life!
Never pray more. Abandon all remorse.
For nothing canst thou to damnation add greater than that.
O, monstrous world!
Take note, take note, O world, to be direct and honest is not safe.
By the world, I think my wife be honest...and think she is not.
A large company, biggest company I've ever
had as a director on location of about 70 people, I think it was.
Besides the actors and everything.
Came to Mogador on the West Coast of Africa to shoot
Othello and we arrived and got a telegram the day after
we arrived that Scalera, the biggest Italian movie studio
with whom I had a contract to make the picture, had gone bankrupt.
And we had no money, we were in Africa and we had no costumes,
Welles was not one to let lack of funds
and costumes inhibit his imagination.
While Shakespeare sets the murder of Roderigo simply in a chamber,
Welles filmed it in a local bathhouse.
While Welles struggled to find financial backing,
on the other side of the world, the Soviet Union provided
unlimited money and resources to make an epic version of Hamlet.
Under Khrushchev, the artistic thaw supported a vision of the play
which reflected the tyranny of the former regime.
Director Grigori Kozintsev stressed the oppressive scale of the castle,
echoing Hamlet's poetic description of Denmark as a prison.
Like Olivier, Kozintsev greatly reduced the original length of the play,
but his Russian translation remained faithful to Shakespeare.
'You know, every nation has his own Shakespeare
'and in Russia - there is a very long tradition
'in Russian literature from the beginning of the 19th century -
'all great Russian writers,
'such as Pushkin, Dostoyevsky...
'many, many were admirers of Shakespeare.
'But, of course, our own understanding of Shakespeare,
'we have many good school of translations, different translations.
'I used the translation by Boris Pasternak, it is a free version.
'It is in contemporary Russian, a modern Russian, without any
'kind of declamation. But, of course, it is translation of a great poet.
HE SPEAKS RUSSIAN
In Japan, another major film-maker, Akira Kurosawa, showed it was
possible to disregard the verse entirely.
He took the plot, principal characters
and the supernatural atmosphere of Macbeth and placed them
in a completely different cultural context.
HE SPEAKS JAPANESE
HE SPEAKS JAPANESE
Kurosawa replaces Macbeth and Banquo encountering the three witches
with his two warriors lost in an eerie forest
meeting a solitary ghost.
A figure out of the classical Japanese tradition of Noh theatre.
HE SINGS IN JAPANESE
HE SPEAKS JAPANESE
Lady Macbeth has spurred her husband into murdering the king
in his sleep and anxiously waits for his return.
Kurosawa reaches beyond cinema back into a theatre that is
ancient and utterly non-naturalistic.
The music and gestures of Noh enable him to penetrate the psychology
of one Shakespeare's most complex characters.
Kurosawa's film with its marriage of Japanese culture
and cinematic power set a new benchmark in world cinema.
It showed that Shakespeare's universal themes and imagery
could be realised on the screen even without a Western context
or the English language.
When cinema began, Shakespeare provided a ready source
of scenes and stories
and gave respectability to a new medium which was widely regarded
as a passing fad.
More than 400 silent films were adapted from Shakespeare.
The earliest to survive wasn't a work in itself,
but an advertisement for a stage performance of King John,
starring the great actor-manager Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree.
As the cinema rapidly developed,
Shakespeare was soon filmed all over the world and on location.
An Italian company made compressed versions of the plays,
including this King Lear,
delicately hand-tinted for cinematic effect.
It was the magical and fantastical plays that provided
the richest source material.
This version of A Midsummer Night's Dream shot in Brooklyn
gives an early indication of Shakespeare's cinematic potential.
Puck flies, appears,
disappears and transforms Bottom into a donkey with a simple cut.
Without Shakespeare's words,
film-makers could play around with the themes and stories.
The great silent star Asta Nielsen became Princess Hamlet.
Her androgynous appeal made her believable as a woman in disguise,
hiding her secret from the man she loves - Horatio.
Silent film was too limited to produce a truly great
cinematic realisation of a Shakespeare play.
The movie pioneer DW Griffith presented a spirited performance
by Florence Lawrence as Kate in The Taming Of The Shrew.
But without the banter between her and her suitor Petruchio
the film could only go so far.
Hollywood would often return to The Taming Of The Shrew
in different guises.
In fact, it could be said that the turbulent relationship of Kate
and Petruchio was the foundation of one of Hollywood's enduring genres -
the battle of the sexes comedy.
The very first sound film of a Shakespeare play
was a heavily cut version of The Taming Of The Shrew.
It starred Hollywood's most glamorous couple,
Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford
and allowed them to act out on screen their perceived true life relationship.
Oh, come, come, you wasp - you are too angry.
If I be waspish, best beware my sting!
-Oh, come Kate, come. Why not be friends?
-Let me go.
Let me loose, fool.
They told me that you were rough and sullen, but no, I find you kind and gentle.
Thou canst not frown, nor look askance,
nor bite thy lip as angry wenches will. Thou art pleasant,
and sweet as springtime flowers.
Shakespeare's play later became a witty Cole Porter musical.
# I hate men
# I can't abide them even now and then
# Than ever marry one of them, I'd rest a maiden rather
# For husbands are a boring lot and only give you bother
# Of course, I'm awfully glad that Mother deemed to marry Father
# But I hate men. #
In McLintock! The Taming Of The Shrew became a western.
The film was produced by and starred John Wayne.
The sexual politics now seem alarming, but they do reflect the original story.
You've been digging those spurs into me for two years,
-now you're going to get your comeuppance.
My father would be proud of you.
# When you know I can't answer the... #
That story has proved over and over again
that it transcends changing times.
In a teenage romcom twist on the play,
Kate is no longer a shrew, but a modern feminist.
Excuse me, have you seen The Feminine Mystique, I've lost my copy?
-What are you doing here?
-I heard there was a poetry reading.
You're not as mean as you think you are, you know that?
And you're not as badass you think you are.
Oh, someone still has her panties in a twist.
Don't for one minute think that you had any effect whatsoever on my panties.
Then what did I have an effect on?
Other then my upchuck reflex, nothing.
Hollywood was at its most successful with Shakespeare
by absorbing elements of his stories
and characters into established genres.
Hamlet became a film noir.
While King Lear was refashioned as a Western.
And the Tempest made into a science fiction movie.
Hollywood had no trouble with the stories and magic of Shakespeare
that could be expressed in its own language.
The problem was Shakespeare's language.
In the golden era of Hollywood, the two most prestigious films
of his plays bombed at the box office.
A starry cast and the skills of the great German theatre director
Max Reinhardt failed to enchant the critics or the public.
The spectacle might have been lavish, but the performances
were incongruously theatrical and old-fashioned.
Ill met by Moonlight, proud Titania.
What, jealous Oberon?
Fairies, skip hence.
I have forsworn his bed and company.
In MGM's Romeo and Juliet,
the star-crossed lovers were somewhat mature, to say the least.
O, speak again, bright angel,
for thou art as glorious to this night, being o'er my head,
as is a winged messenger of heaven
O, Romeo, Romeo,
wherefore art thou Romeo.
People said Shearer was much too old? What do you think about this?
Well, she wasn't, she wasn't a child, as it was said.
she wasn't all that old at that time. She was lovely looking.
I think there's a great misconception that
because she was supposed to be 14,
maybe an Italian girl of 14 of that period was a little more mature.
Also, they say when an actress - the tradition is when an actress
can play Juliet, she's too old for it.
Parting is such sweet sorrow...
..that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.
It took an Italian director to cast real teenagers as Romeo and Juliet
and repeat Olivier's success in making Shakespeare widely popular again.
Franco Zeffirelli forged his radical approach in the English theatre.
His stage productions of Romeo and Juliet
and Much Ado About Nothing were praised more for their energy
than for their attention to the verse.
When your purists say that Shakespeare is based entirely
on the beauty of verses, they're completely wrong.
Because otherwise, how do you explain that Shakespeare is
the greatest poet, playwright in Italy, or in France, in Germany?
Because there is something beyond poetry that really matters
and is essential.
..the moment that Juliet will arrive...
Zeffirelli proved his case with Romeo And Juliet,
a British-Italian co-production shot on location.
His young cast played the characters in the naturalistic style
that had developed out of the New York-based Actors Studio,
which has produced such dynamic stars as Marlon Brando,
Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino.
Hold one moment.
This is a very important moment, because it's the first time,
the first time you see Romeo after the balcony scene,
which only took place a few hours before.
So it was only a dream, a dream-like planet, and now it becomes true,
so your first instinct is to kiss him, "He is my man,"
he's going to be my husband in a minute.
HE SPEAKS ITALIAN
'I selected two young people today
'that corresponded to a certain image,
'a certain blend between classical qualities'
and contemporary qualities and these two kids have them.
And I asked them to do a work of identification,
in a way, but only in a way,
the method of the Actors Studio.
'I constantly explained them the scenes
'from a very matter-of-fact point of start to them.
'"If you were in such and such a situation,
'"how would you react and behave?"
'Then the words come later. If I had started with the words,
'we would have been lost.'
What matters is that they feel
that they are living naturally a moment of their life
and that moment of their life coincides
with what Shakespeare wanted from those characters.
Here comes the lady.
O, so light a foot
-Will ne'er wear out the everlasting flint.
-Good even to my ghostly confessor.
Romeo shall thank thee, daughter, for us both.
if the measure of thy joy
Be heaped like mine,
that thy skill be more to blazon it
then sweeten with thy breath this neighbour air.
They are but beggars that can count their worth.
But my true love is grown to such excess
I cannot sum up sum of half my wealth.
THE FRIAR TUTS
The case of Romeo and Juliet is a very typical case
that shows how great Shakespeare would have been
if he'd lived today as a scriptwriter.
It's really the closest example in classical theatre
to what a modern scriptwriter should be for movies.
'Fear not, till Birnam Wood do come to Dunsinane.
'And now, a wood comes towards Dunsinane.'
During the shot, when I give the cue, "Action, blue,"
take some of those trees off the front of that catapult,
special action for you.
Working on challenging locations,
another international director, the Polish Roman Polanski,
filmed Shakespeare's bloodiest play with gritty authenticity.
It's not cold today. You know, try.
'It's a very bloody play, you know.
'As Jan Kott, a Polish scholar, puts it,
'it's "steeped in blood" itself.'
OK. All right.
Eyes wide open. Don't move. Action!
In underlining the darkness and grotesque cruelty of the play,
Polanski drew on his childhood memories of Nazi-occupied Poland.
This is another thing, when they were raiding houses,
you always heard those screams everywhere,
on the second floor, on the ground floor,
you know, it was like stereo around your apartment,
you have people screaming in various...
They were beating someone,
or shooting someone, or dragging someone out, so...
..I remembered that.
In King Lear, I try to show
the development of fire.
At first, there's a fire place. It's something perhaps prehistorical.
A patriarchal fire.
After that is a fire, the king's baggage train with torches.
After that, soldiers put fire on the countryside.
The town is burned and the kingdom is burned
and the whole screen is on fire.
In the same time, on the soundtrack,
Shostakovich composed a requiem,
not the naturalistic sounds of the battle,
but a kind of lament, a requiem.
A lament of human beings,
a great requiem at this total catastrophe.
MOURNFUL CHORAL SINGING
In his second epic excursion into Shakespeare,
Akira Kurosawa also saw King Lear in apocalyptic terms.
Ran, his radical, visually stunning adaptation of the play,
features a terrifying scene of death and destruction
when his Lear is under siege.
Kurosawa amplifies the emotional effect of the images by replacing
the sounds of battle with Tour Takemitsu's symphonic score.
DRAMATIC SYMPHONIC MUSIC
SHOUTING, CARRIAGE WHEELS RATTLE
DRIVER YELLS TO HORSES
King Lear is one of Shakespeare's most challenging plays
to be produced in the theatre.
Yet it has given us three of the greatest Shakespeare films.
Peter Brook directed a legendary stage production in 1962.
He then sought to transfer this stark
and alienated vision of King Lear from the stage to the screen.
He filmed it in the frozen wilderness of Denmark,
preserving for posterity the power
of Paul Scofield's magisterial performance.
I put the emphasis in the film
on making the background of it plausible,
which is why we made this, really,
in this wild, frozen landscape in Denmark
so that you could feel the essence of this prehistoric England.
The realism gave many things -
it enabled one to be very close to Paul.
For me, where you really feel the essence of Paul's Lear
is at the very beginning,
that big close-up of Paul when he says the first words
and there, immediately, into the outer and inner man
he was playing as King Lear.
..that we have divided
..and 'tis our fast intent
To shake all cares and business from our age...
..conferring them on younger strengths
while we, unburdened,
crawl toward death.
While in the theatre great performances
are by definition evanescent,
on film, they are captured for all time
and for all audiences.
No-one saw that more clearly than Orson Welles.
His greatest Shakespeare film was not the realisation
of one particular play, but the realisation on film
of Shakespeare's greatest comic character, Sir John Falstaff.
Chimes At Midnight is one film made
from the five historical plays that feature Falstaff,
a comic figure who becomes tragic,
unable to cope with the changing times.
It's very rare that in literature we have a fascinating character,
a work of fiction, a creation,
of a good man who is fascinating.
There are very few of those in all literature.
Falstaff is certainly pre-eminent in that respect.
Jesus, the days that we've seen!
Ha, Sir John, said I well?
We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Robert Shallow.
That we have, that we have, that we have.
Merry England was dead and gone in Elizabethan times.
It was a dream, it maybe never existed,
but it was very real in Shakespeare's mind.
Well, Falstaff, the king hath severed you and Prince Harry.
Yes, I thank your pretty wit for it.
Prince John of Lancaster:
good faith, this same sober-blooded boy doth not love me,
nor a man cannot make him laugh -
but that's no marvel: he drinks no wine!
There's never any of these demure boys come to any proof,
for thin drink doth so over-cool their blood
that they are generally fools and cowards.
Which some of us should be too,
Do you feel nostalgic for that world,
if you'd lived in Shakespeare's England?
Uh, yeah, of course, I do now.
I think all Anglo-Saxons feel nostalgic for it.
They apologise for it and giggle self-consciously
and say it's all Christmas cards and so on, but we know what we mean.
Something to do with May time, and...
..a May time that never happened, properly, a spring that never was,
but it has an extraordinary reality, I admit.
SOLDIERS CRY OUT
Aside from his central performance,
Welles the director gives the cinema one of the great battle scenes.
He illustrated chivalric glory
descending into mud-splattered savagery.
SOLDIERS ROAR, STEEL CLASHES
The main battle, the idea of it,
is to show the poor foot soldiers' viewpoint of a battle
which is being run by people in armour
and plumes. It's kind of Falstaff's ragged army viewpoint.
KNIGHTS SHOUT AND CALL OUT
Shakespeare, in a way, belonged to our modern world, really.
He was at the beginning of it, I think.
O, for a Muse of fire,
that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention.
In the year Olivier died,
the young actor/director Kenneth Branagh followed in his footsteps
to bring Shakespeare to mainstream cinema audiences.
Beginning with Henry V,
he opened his version not in an Elizabethan theatre,
but in a film studio.
A kingdom for a stage,
princes to act.
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
By playing Henry, Branagh evoked a direct historical comparison
with Olivier's heroic performance,
but made the role his own.
Olivier talked about the whole process
of soliloquies in Shakespeare,
he believed that by the time you've reached the climax of a speech,
that you had to be further away from the actor,
because he believed the film medium couldn't take the degree of passion
that often accompanied the climax of a great Shakespearean aria
and I sort of believe the opposite.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start.
The game's afoot.
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry, "God for Harry, England, and St George!"
-"Harry, England, and St George!"
'Shakespeare films of late have been pretty bold with Shakespeare.'
We've come such a long way in the development of cinema
that there are so many interesting ways to do that,
ways to match images with words
that it becomes almost like new territory,
it's as if with this 400-year-old play,
you can approach it as if it was a completely new script.
The Taviani brothers brought the political insights of Julius Caesar
up-to-date by enacting the drama in a prison.
The cast was mostly real-life mafia convicts.
TRANSLATED FROM ITALIAN:
It's no surprise that of all Shakespeare's plays,
the endlessly enigmatic Hamlet
is the most filmed around the world
and the one that has provoked the most various,
not to say outlandish, interpretations.
TRANSLATION FROM ITALIAN:
In an Italian Western version,
Gerty is surprised by the return of her son,
In the Chinese martial arts film The Banquet,
the dumbshow revealing how Claudius murdered Hamlet's father
is staged as a lavish eastern pantomime.
SPARSE, RHYTHMIC DRUMMING
Aki Kaurismaki's off-beat Finnish sensibility
turns Hamlet into a noir comedy.
TRANSLATED FROM FINNISH:
In India, Vishal Bhardwaj has made Bollywood crime movies
out of three tragedies -
Macbeth, Othello and Hamlet,
which became Haider.
His Hamlet is a revolutionary in Kashmir,
putting a very political twist on the prince's famous soliloquy.
Hamlet's complexity is in contrast
to the simplicity of cinema's second-favourite Shakespeare play.
Romeo And Juliet, with its story of star-crossed lovers
from feuding families has been given the lavish Bollywood treatment.
The Romeo And Juliet story lends itself readily
to innumerable cultural settings and genres.
It was the basis for one of the greatest of American musicals,
set in 1950s New York.
# Tonight, tonight
# It all began tonight
# I saw you and the world went away
# Tonight, tonight
# There's only you tonight
# What you are, what you do, what you say... #
That myth, that story of Romeo And Juliet,
of two kids who fall in love, but their adult world says,
"You can't love that person because of their name,"
or, "You can't love that person because of their skin colour,"
"You can't love that person because of their sexuality
"or their religion," that idea is something that touches us all,
particularly touches young people, because to be told who they can
and cannot love is something they find very hard to compute.
"Why would that be? Why is it wrong to love someone?"
MUSIC: I'm Kissing You by Des'ree
Baz Luhrmann reinvented Romeo And Juliet for the 1990s.
He set the story in a visually dazzling Miami.
His gangland is a place populated by the young,
where glamorous leads Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes
play out the tragic fate of the teenage lovers.
The film is a cinematic tour de force.
TYRES SCREECH, MAN YELLS
It's authentically anchored by Luhrmann's bold choice
to retain Shakespeare's text as the dialogue.
Go forth! I will back thee!
Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
I-I do bite my thumb, sir.
Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
-Is the law of our side, if I say ay?
No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir.
-Do you quarrel, sir?
-Quarrel, sir! No, sir.
But if you do, sir, I am for you: I serve as good a man as you.
Here comes our kinsman - say "better"!
-Yes, better, sir.
-Draw, if you be men.
Part, fools! You know not what you do.
That came directly from our analysis of the Elizabethan stage.
In the text, Shakespeare had stand-up comedy one minute,
comedians going, "Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?"
Then a pop song. He'd stick a popular song in.
Then you'd have high tragedy,
the lowest comedy, all mixed up together.
That mixing up of things, because he was trying to entertain,
is Elizabethan, is Shakespearean,
it's not necessarily MTV, although MTV does use some of those devices,
so it came directly from Shakespeare,
that idea of kind of rough, relentless, irreverent,
but damned entertaining.
Shakespeare's final testament, The Tempest,
is a supernatural tale of reconciliation and hope.
Its central character, Prospero, is a great magician.
At the end of the play, he bids farewell to his powers
as Shakespeare did to his art.
It would be his last great work.
This silent, British-made version of The Tempest begins
with Prospero demonstrating his powers to his daughter, Miranda,
raising a storm that will bring to their island
the survivors of a shipwreck.
The play has consistently attracted the more adventurous
and experimental film makers.
-..my wife and children...
Working with a minimal budget, the artist Derek Jarman
brought a late-'70s punk aesthetic to the play.
He created potent images with simple means, such as tinted stock footage.
PANICKED GASPING AND WHISPERING
Peter Greenaway played with all the tools of multimedia technology.
John Gielgud gave a bravura performance as Prospero,
speaking all the roles as though he were himself Shakespeare.
- What, must our mouths be cold? - Boatswain...
LINES OF DIALOGUE RAPIDLY OVERLAP
And Julie Taymor broke with convention by casting Helen Mirren
If by your art, my dearest mother, you have
Put the wild waters in this roar, allay them.
Oh, I have suffered
With those that I saw suffer.
A brave vessel
Who had, no doubt, some noble creature in her
Dashed all to pieces.
Poor souls, they perished.
No more amazement.
Tell thy piteous heart
There's no harm done.
-Oh, woe the day!
Our revels now are ended.
These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind.
We are such stuff
As dreams are made on,
and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
Through the movies, Shakespeare's work takes us boldly
where no great playwright has gone before.
The writers of Star Trek
have frequently mined Shakespeare's works,
suggesting that he is the central poet and storyteller,
not just of our globe,
but of the universe.
I offer a toast.
The undiscovered country.
GUESTS RESPOND IN VARIOUS LANGUAGES
Hamlet, Act III, Scene I.
You've not experienced Shakespeare
until you have read him in the original Klingon.
HE SPEAKS KLINGON
# With the wife of the British ambessida
# Try a crack out of Troilus And Cressida
# If she says she won't buy it or tike it
# Make her tike it, what's more As You Like It
# If she says your behaviour is heinous
# Kick her right in the Coriolanus
# Brush up your Shakespeare
# And they'll all kow-tow
# Thinkst thou? And they'll all kow-tow
# Odds bodkins, all kow-tow. #
From the silent days of cinema, Shakespeare's plays have often been adapted to the big screen. Film-makers relished his vivid characters and dramatic plots as well as the magic and poetry of his work.
At first the results were patchy, then came Laurence Olivier. With Henry V, made to stir patriotic spirit during the Second World War, he perfectly translated Shakespeare from the stage to the screen. He followed Henry V with Hamlet, and both were smash hits. Olivier led the way for directors as diverse as Orson Welles, Kurosawa, Franco Zeffirelli, Roman Polanski, Baz Luhrmann and Kenneth Branagh.
The Bard's language has been no barrier, with bold versions of his dramas coming out of Russia, Japan, India and many other countries, not to mention Hollywood's free adaptations in genres as diverse as musicals and science fiction. Already over 30 films worldwide have been produced based on Romeo and Juliet alone.
For the first time in a single documentary, Arena explores the rich, global history of Shakespeare in the cinema, with a treasure trove of film extracts and archival interviews with their creators.