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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Celebrating Shakespeare: 11 Adaptations Available Online

It's Shakespeare's 450th Birthday today, and I've made a list of several great film and filmed stage productions of Shakespeare's work that are available online. (I've added a * next to the ones I've seen.) I've written a bit more about the Bard and his birthday in a separate post.

So without further ado....



Netflix: 
*A Midsummer Night's Dream
A whimsical production filled with umbrellas and brightly colored doors. Almost entirely double-cast. (The fairies play the rude mechanicals, Titania and Oberon play Hippolyta and Theseus, etc.)
Shakespeare Uncovered
Six of Shakespeare's works, explored and analyzed, each hosted by a different amazing actor. (David Tennant, anyone?)
*Love's Labour's Lost
One of Shakespeare's lesser-known comedies, updated to a late-1930's  setting by Kenneth Branagh.
Hamlet
Keeps the original dialogue, but sets the story in modernized (well, to 2000 anyway) NYC, starring Ethan Hawke.
Coriolanus
A modern retelling set in an alternate version of Rome. I get the impression that it's gritty.
*Shakespeare in Love
A imagining of Shakespeare's life where he has an affair with a woman who is also dressing up as a man to act in his plays. I get highly annoyed with modern speculation about Shakespeare's private life, (how about a movie where he actually loves HIS WIFE? And Anne Hathaway can play her, hehe.) and this movie frustrated me to no end. I pretty much wanted to punch Gwyneth Paltrow and her attempt at a British accent in the face and I will never understand why this film won multiple Oscars, including Best Picture. BUT, I highly enjoyed the Elizabethan setting, and all the behind-the-scenes writing, rehearsing and performing at the Globe. Fair warning, it is quite rated R. I watched it with my mom when I was in high school and we fast-forwarded through A LOT of steamy scenes.
*Doctor Who
Series 3, Episode 3. On Martha's first trip out of modern-day London with the Tenth Doctor, they visit the time of Shakespeare. There's even some Harry Potter references. It doesn't get much better (or British) than that!



Amazon Prime:
*Much Ado About Nothing
Ah, Italian countryside, white dresses, picnics, dancing....My favorite version of my favorite play. My first exposure to Shakespeare, this film will always have a special place in my heart.
*King Lear
Ian Mckellan and Romola Garai star in this filmed stage version.
As You Like It
A Lawrence Olivier version from 1969
Great Performances: Macbeth
If I can ever force myself to stomach watching Macbeth, Patrick Stewart's award-winning version seems like the way to go.  (I read a summary once and that was about enough for me. What a dark and bloody story.)

Amazon Prime also has several various documentaries about Stratford, the Globe, etc. (A simple search for "Shakespeare" in their instant video section will pull them up.)

Huffington Post's article about Shakespeare's birthday had a collection of a few others full-length versions and clips available on YouTube.

If you're up for renting, Digital Theatre has a fantastic collection of nicely filmed British stage productions, starring some fantastic actors. I personally just purchased Catherine Tate and David Tennant's version of Much Ado and I plan to celebrate the Bard's birthday by watching it later!

What are your favorite Shakespeare adaptations?

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