Shakespeare on Film: Outstanding Adaptations

October 16 - November 4, 2016

All screenings are free, unticketed, and open to the public. Screenings will take place Sundays and Fridays in White Hall 208.

Sunday, October 16th at 4:00 - MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (1993, 111 min.)

Much Ado About Nothing (1993)Since the debut of 1989’s Henry V, Kenneth Branagh has become our foremost contemporary creator of Shakespeare adaptations.  He set this star-studded adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s beloved comedies on location in Tuscany, creating a film that luxuriates in the sensual pleasures of life, and love and wit—and malice.  While young lovers Hero (Kate Beckinsale) and Claudio (Robert Sean Leonard) await their wedding one week away, they conspire with Don Pedro (Denzel Washington) to set a lover’s trap for the too-proud Benedick (Branagh) and Beatrice (Emma Thompson), who excel at sparring with each other.  Meanwhile, the evil Don John (Keanu Reeves) plots to break up the wedding, while the incompetent constable Dogberry (Michael Keaton) tries in vain to discover what’s afoot.  One of the most joyous Shakespeare adaptations ever made.   Introduced by Dr. Elena Glazov-Corrigan, Professor of Russian Literature, Department of Russian and East Asian Languages and Cultures.

Friday, October 21st at 7:30 - FALSTAFF/CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT (1966, 116 min.)

Chimes at Midnight (1965)Orson Welles’s last extraordinary film is considered one of his greatest, if not the greatest of his career—and not least by the great auteur himself.  “If wanted to get into heaven on the basis of one movie,” he once said,” that’s the one I would offer up.”  Seamlessly combining elements from Henry IV, Parts One and Two, with a smattering of Henry V, Richard II, and The Merry Wives of Windsor, Welles focuses on Sir John Falstaff as Prince Hal’s ultimately spurned drinking buddy.  He thereby crafts one of his most personal works, a quintessential meditation on the passage of time (or as Welles put it, “the death of Merrie England”) and the corruption that comes with it, and friendship and betrayal.    Welles is perfectly cast (and heavily padded) as the highly theatrical Falstaff, with Jeanne Moreau as Doll Tearsheet,  John Gielguld as Henry IV, Margaret Rutherford as Mistress Quickly and Ralph Richardson narrating.  The 10-minute Battle of Shrewsbery sequence is regarded as one of the greatest ever filmed. Unavailable for decades, we are proud to show the newly restored version.  Introduced by Dr. Elena Glazov-Corrigan, Professor of Russian Literature, Department of Russian and East Asian Languages and Cultures.

Sunday, October 30th at 3:30 - RAN (1985, 162 min.)

RAN (1985)Like Chimes at Midnight, Akira Kurosawa’s loose adaptation of King Lear is a late masterpiece, regarded by many as his greatest film ever. In the Warring States period, warlord Hidetori Ichimonji (Kurosawa regular Tatsuya Nakadai) decides to retire and divide his lands among his three sons, to the dismay of his youngest son Saburo (Daisuke Ryu), who is in turn banished.  With his two greedy older sons in power, chaos (ran) unfolds.  As he did three decades earlier in his Noh Theater-influenced Throne of Blood  (an adaptation of Macbeth), Kurosawa largely dispenses with Shakespearean dialogue, yet retains the work’s overwhelming power, confirming his reputation as one of the bard’s greatest screen interpreters.   Featuring powerful performances from Mieko Harada as a daughter-in-law Lady Kaede and Pita as Kyoami the fool, RAN also boasts a stunning sequence in which Hidetori’s castle is burned to the ground.  This is the newly restored version.  Introduced by Dr. James Steffen, Film and Media Studies Librarian.

Friday, November 4th at 7:30 - TITUS (1999, 162 min.)

Titus (1999)

Julie Taymor (Broadway’s The Lion King, Frida (2002) Across the Universe (2007) and The Tempest (2008)) made her big screen debut as a screenwriter and director with this readily accessible, stunning and highly imaginative adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s earliest, most violent and less frequently performed tragedies.  She assembled  an extraordinary cast, including Anthony Hopkins in the title, King Lear-like role, Jessica Lange as Tamora the avenging Goth Queen, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Matthew Rhys as her amoral sons Chrion and Demetrius, Alan Cumming as the ruthless authoritarian Saturnius who is appointed by Titus, Laura Fraser (Breaking Bad’s Lydia Rodarte-Quayle) as the long-suffering Lavinia, and Harry Lennix (24,, The Blacklist) in an absorbing performance as the evil-obsessed Aaron.  Taymor, shooting in Rome and Croatia, and collaborating with master production designer Dante Feretti set her action in  a striking setting that mixes ancient Rome, Fascist Italy and the contemporary world , to create a film of striking contemporary relevance.  Introduced by Dr. Sheila Cavanagh, Professor of English, and Director of the World Shakespeare Project.