The Play's the Thing Nick Burton Film & Screenwriting

videocam The Play’s the Thing

reviewed by Nick Burton

Published in Issue No. 26 ~ July, 1999

No other name revives moviegoers’ interest in theater more than Shakespeare, and while it usually takes a piece of fluff like

Shakespeare in Love to spark such well-meant revivals, filmmakers have been putting the Bard on film since day one with varying degrees of intent and success. For Pif Magazine‘s theater issue, I’ve decided to focus on the four Shakespeare adaptations I feel have been brave in taking the plays away from the proscenium and to the movie screen. I have omitted a couple of obvious choices – Robert Wise’s awful 1961 film of the 1957 play

West Side Story
and Fred McLeod Wilcox’ 1956 Science Fiction version of The Tempest,

Forbidden Planet

(*And did you know that all of Shakespeare’s works are available on the Internet free of charge? There are, in fact, two sites of the complete works, so if, like me, you have a hankering to read "Coriolanus" or "Timon of Athens" in between games of Quake, go to The works of the Bard or The Complete Works of William Shakespeare)

Click on the title to read the full review

Richard III (1995)

Directed by Ian McKellen

“Loncraine and McKellen have achieved something truly noteworthy here: they
have brought the Bard kicking and screaming into the pulp `90s, sparing no
violence and sex…”

Romeo and Juliet

Directed by Baz Luhrmann

“Luhrmann’s vision recycles a variety of modern film techniques
without any passion for its characters. And in Shakespeare, that’s fatal. While the
film pumps up the intensity of every emotion, by the time we get to the death of
Mercutio … we are exhausted by the
overwrought filmmaking…”

Throne of Blood (1957)

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

remarkable, atmospheric film full of arresting images, Throne of Blood shifts the
action from Scotland to feudal Japan without betraying any of Shakespeare’s
corrosive discourse on the evils of ambition…”

Prospero’s Books (1991)

Directed by Peter Greenaway

“Greenaway’s elegant visual
style owes as much to his background as an artist as it does his career as a
filmmaker … His films remain an acquired taste, but once that taste has been
acquired, his films are richly rewarding intellectual entertainment……”

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Nick Burton lives in Newport Beach, California. His fiction has appeared in many small press and web publications, inlcuding: Chronicles Of Fiction, Pauper, and of course Pif.