Friday, July 26, 2013

Loving Shakespeare

Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes in "Shakespeare in Love"

There are certain films that are guaranteed to take us out of ourselves, not only to a place of enchantment and joy, but also to another time. We are immersed in the past in a way we have never been before and we feel we understand it better. Through great writing, period sets, evocative music, and beautiful costumes, the filmmakers insure that for a couple of hours we are visiting another era. Maybe these films are not exactly historically accurate, but they capture the essence, the goodness that we have all derived from that time and place. We leave the theater enriched. These are the films that stay with us. 

Recently I watched one of these, the 1998 film Shakespeare in Love. If you haven't seen it for a while, watch it again and you will be happy you did. It is a magical film. I think I was smiling the whole time. You may notice a few things about the film you had forgotten: how joyful it is, how much running Joseph Fiennes does, the golden light, the gorgeous costumes, and the music which is impossible to get out of your head for days afterwards.

Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker in "Much Ado About Nothing"

Fortunately for all of us Shakespeare lovers, there is a new film adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. This has to be one of the most beloved plays by Shakespeare. You know the story: Beatrice and Benedick, duking it out. They claim to hate each other, engage in verbal sparring and one- upmanship, and, naturally, fall in love. It is a winning formula.

This new film adaptation is different from others you may have seen; it is modern in style, setting, and costume. Directed by Josh Whedon and shot in his beautiful Spanish-style home in Los Angeles, it captures all the romance and magic of the play and gives it a fresh spin. The film is hip, stylish and very funny. I was smiling when I left the theater, thinking about the timelessness of the story and the universality of the character traits of its lead characters. If you love Shakespeare, be sure to see this film. It reminded me of how I felt when I first saw "Shakespeare in Love." Here is a filmmaker who has made Shakespeare and his work live and breathe for us. The words that were written five hundred years ago are still relevant. I feel grateful for that. Go here to see the trailer and read a review. 

I have been thinking about my favorite Shakespeare plays. It's actually very hard to choose...maybe Much Ado About NothingThe Tempest, and Romeo and Juliet? Tomorrow I will probably have a different answer. 

What are your favorite plays by Shakespeare?  


  1. Sunday, I adore my Shakespeare. My favorite play is "A Mid-Summer Night's Dream" followed by "Romeo and Juliet", "King Lear" and "Much Ado About Nothing". Like you, tomorrow I might change my mind or add, maybe "Two Gentlemen of Verona" and "Hamlet"? I haven't had the chance to see the new film. Sounds like a perfect way to spend a hot summer afternoon. Have a wonderful weekend. Bonnie

  2. Sunday...As you know, Shakespeare is one of my favorites. I so love"Shakespeare in Love" because I truly believe it captures the atmosphere of the time he was writing. Here was an actor trying desperately to make a living and certainly having no thoughts of posterity. The costumes were the clothing of the day and not the correct period of the play. Theatis why "The Much Ado..." film works so well also. So glad you selected this as a topic for your blog.

  3. I adored "Shakespeare in Love" and now you remind me to try to see it again. At the moment, my favorite would be "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Is there a better play for July? Thank you for this conversation. Hope you are still enjoying your summer.

  4. I loved this film. I hadn't been to the cinema for years, but made a trip to see this.

  5. Probably "Hamlet" and "Romeo and Juliet". I still haven't seen the Josh Whedon version of "Much Ado About Nothing" and hope it doesn't leave the theatre before I have a chance. I did go (many years ago) to a summer Shakespeare festival and "Much Ado About Nothing" was the absolute highlight. I still love the Zefferelli version of Romeo and Juliet so much. I might have a Shakespeare movie day at home soon!

  6. Great post,and timing for us Brits.During the Summer months young stage actors tour National Trust properties for evening outdoor Shakesperian plays,next week the 'Taming of the Shrew' is in the grounds of Croft castle,we take a picnic,rugs + umbrellas, cannot trust our weather!
    'The Tempest','Much ado about Nothing' are past plays seen in open air theatres.Excellent acting,pleasant evenings in our beautiful countryside.