Shakespeare on Film, 1930–90

Anne-Marie Costantini-Cornède

in The Edinburgh Companion to Shakespeare and the Arts

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780748635238
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652297 | DOI:
Shakespeare on Film, 1930–90

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This chapter describes the Shakespearean filmmaking during the period 1930–90. The notable auteur figures include Akira Kurosawa, Laurence Olivier and Orson Welles, and the types of film mentions for critical attention extend to classical productions, film noirs and picturesque fantasies. It provides some comments in relation to numbers, idiosyncratic styles, ideological differences and the use of the film noirs genre for various adaptations of Hamlet. Olivier's Henry V was the first Technicolor Shakespeare. The actor-director's duality is illustrated as he endeavours to balance the theatrical and the filmic, cinematic novelty and reverence, indulging in excited reinventions that simultaneously honour textual specifics. Akira Kurosawa's The Bad Sleep Well is a Hamlet-infused adaptation. In all of Welles' films, skewed angles and pronounced camera mobility allow for unconventional frame compositions and create a general effect of spatial fragmentation or disjunction suggestive of psychological complexities. Prospero's Books is more affirming in its Shakespearean attitudes.

Keywords: Shakespearean filmmaking; Akira Kurosawa; Laurence Olivier; Orson Welles; film noirs; Hamlet; Henry V; The Bad Sleep Well

Chapter.  10427 words. 

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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