Four Film Monuments

More time spent reading Rosenbaum’s The Shakespeare Wars. The book devotes many pages to surveying filmed Shakespeare. There is a Great Debate (surprise, surprise) in the contentious worlds of Shakespeare scholarship and criticism over the value of committing Shakespeare to film. Rosenbaum spends some time advancing his own view that seeing one or two legendary talents working in a Shakespeare film (actors and directors) is far more satisfiying than seeing a string of mediocre and misguided stage productions which, in his mind, exist in abundance at any given moment. From that position he suggests four film examples. I just want to second his suggestions: Olivier’s Richard III (which features the three 20th-Century “Lions” of the English Stage, Lawrence Olivier, John Gielgud, and Ralph Richardson); Richard Burton’s Hamlet with Gielgud directing, an early television treatment available now on DVD; Peter Brook’s King Lear with Paul Scofield and Irene Worth; and Orson Welles’s Falstaff saga Chimes at Midnight. Good luck finding the Welles; I ordered a Brazillian import (don’t tell my wife; kind of pricey) because I have heard about the film for far too long and Rosenbaum’s words convinced me to stop waiting for some Criterion Collection edition which may never appear. Happy Viewing!

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