100 Shakespeare Films by Daniel Rosenthal
(BFI Publishing, 2007)

From Oscar-winning British classics to Hollywood musicals and Westerns, from Soviet epics to Bollywood thrillers, Shakespeare has inspired an almost infinite variety of films. Directors as diverse as Orson Welles, Akira Kurosawa, Franco Zeffirelli, Kenneth Branagh, Baz Luhrmann and Julie Taymor have transferred Shakpeare's plays from stage to screen with unforgettable results.


Spanning a century of cinema, from a silent short of The Tempest (1908) to Kenneth Branagh's As You Like It (2007), Daniel Rosenthal's up-to-date selection is a wide-ranging, entertaining and accessible guide for Shakespeare teachers, students and enthusiasts.

Hitler Ian McKellen in the title role of Richard III (1995)

It takes in the most important, inventive and unusual Shakespeare films ever made. Half are British and American productions that retain Shakespeare's language, including key works such as Olivier's Henry V and Hamlet, Welles' Othello and Chimes at Midnight, Branagh's Henry V and Hamlet, Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet and Taymor's Titus.

Joe Macbeth

Alongside these original-text films are over 30 genre adaptations: titles that aim for a wider audience by using modernized dialogue and settings and customizing Shakespeare's plots and characters, transforming Macbeth into a pistol-packing gangster (Joe Macbeth and Maqbool) or reimagining Othello as a jazz musician or high-school basketball star (All Night Long, O).

There are Shakespeare-based Westerns (Johnny Hamlet, King of Texas), musicals (West Side Story, Kiss Me Kate), high-school comedies (10 Things I Hate About You, She's the Man), even a sci-fi adventure (Forbidden Planet). There are also films dominated by the performance of a Shakespearean play (A Double Life, Shakespeare in Love).

Rosenthal emphasizes the global nature of Shakespearean cinema, with entries on more than 20 foreign-language titles, including Kurosawa's Throne of Blood and Ran, Grigori Kozintsev's Russian Hamlet and King Lear, and little-known features from as far afield as Madagascar and Venezuela, some never released in Britain or the US.

He considers the films' production and box-office history and examines the film-makers' key interpretive decisions in comparison to their Shakespearean sources, focusing on cinematography, landscape, music, performance, production design, textual alterations and omissions.

Presented alphabetically by Shakespeare play, each chapter begins with a handy synopsis, followed by chronological film entries. There are also guides to Further Reading and what's available on DVD and Video.

Read Extracts from 100 Shakespeare Films:
Hamlet
Julius Caesar
Ran
Makibefo
O
Forbidden Planet


Buy the book

Praise for
100 Shakespeare Films


“Daniel Rosenthal is a lively and thoughtful guide to the many possibilities of cinematic transformation - the way a voice-over can develop from a soliloquy or how close-ups and sudden cutting alter our sense of the relationship between thought and action. He is also firm and level-headed in his judgments.”
Times Educational Supplement

“The Introduction is one of the best bits of the book, an excellent survey of the history of Shakespeare on film that is, like much of what follows, clear, informative and fascinating.”
Around the Globe: The Magazine of Shakespeare’s Globe

“Rosenthal’s comments are personal, eminently readable and critically revealing. As a guide to understanding the production history and development of cinematic adaptation of Shakespeare over 100 years this is highly recommended.”
ViewFinder (Journal of the British Universities Film & Video Council)

“Entertaining reading… clearly structured. The book’s best feature is the thoughtful introductory essay.”
Teaching Drama Magazine

montage