Rentals

Shakespeare on Film

All the world's a cinema! How a century and more of filmmakers have raided, remade and refashioned the bard.

Shakespeare arrived in moving pictures before they could even talk. The master's work lent an air of gravitas, respectability and permanence to a young medium. As film grew bigger and more ambitious, so filmmakers were drawn to Shakespeare's endless bounty of resonant plots and epic conflicts, his mastery of psychology and character. Shakespeare's universal, elemental themes survive any translation, any reinterpretation. His plays have been filmed in Russian, in Japanese, in Hindi and dozens of other languages. They have appeared as musicals, as westerns, as sci-fi. Kurosawa transported the 'Scottish Play' to feudal Japan. Laurence Olivier's 1944 Henry V may tell of war with France, but its audience would have had in mind a more contemporary enemy. Even four centuries after his death, Shakespeare plays still speak to our times as well as his. Play on!

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Macbeth
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Macbeth

Drama2015113 minsDirector: Justin Kurzel

Fassbender is ferocious as the Scottish king in Justin Kurzel’s red-blooded and viscerally atmospheric Shakespeare adaptation.

Bill
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Bill

Comedy201494 minsDirector: Richard Bracewell

The Horrible Histories team’s take on Shakespeare’s ‘lost years’, following the hopeless lute player as he leaves his home to follow his dream.

Coriolanus
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Coriolanus

Drama2010123 minsDirector: Ralph Fiennes

Ralph Fiennes stars and directs in the brutal Shakespeare adaptation about a fallen hero who hungers for bloody revenge against his city.

Play On! Shakespeare in Silent Film
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Play On! Shakespeare in Silent Film

Anthology201663 mins

This celebration of silent Shakespeare interweaves a delightful selection of thrilling, iconic and humorous scenes from 24 newly digitised films.

Richard III
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Richard III

Drama1995104 minsDirector: Richard Loncraine

Ian McKellen and Richard Loncraine’s bold restaging transplants Shakespeare’s play to an imagined 1930s fascist Britain.

Peg of Old Drury
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Peg of Old Drury

Biopic193671 minsDirector: Herbert Wilcox

Anna Neagle is on luminous form in this exuberant account of celebrated actress Peg Woffington's rise to fame in Georgian London's Theatreland.

Mercutio's Dreaming
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Mercutio's Dreaming

Comedy201116 minsDirector: Jennifer Lim

The travails of a British-Chinese, would-be Shakespearean actor, in an industry that sees him only as an 'Oriental'.

The Angelic Conversation
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The Angelic Conversation

Animation & Artists Moving Image198581 minsDirector: Derek Jarman

The Angelic Conversation sees Derek Jarman conjure an evocative and radical visualisation of Shakespeare’s love poems. With narration by Judi Dench and music by Coil.

Romeo and Juliet
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Romeo and Juliet

Drama1954145 minsDirector: Renato Castellani

Laurence Harvey and Susan Shentall are the star-crossed lovers in the ravishingly filmed 1954 adaptation.

Romeo of the Spirits
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Romeo of the Spirits

Drama197620 minsDirector: Nikolas L. Janis

A homeless ex-actor's remembrance of lines from Shakespeare reflects his own desperate situation on the hostile streets of London.

Shakespeare in Love
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Shakespeare in Love

Comedy1998124 minsDirector: John Madden

A creatively stymied bard finds love and inspiration in the form of one of his players, a cross-dressing actress, in the impeccably crafted, Oscar-winning period romance.

China Girl
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China Girl

Gangster198787 minsDirector: Abel Ferrara

Abel Ferrara creates a modern day Romeo & Juliet in gritty New York City, centring on the doom relationship between an Italian boy and Chinese girl.

Food of Love
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Food of Love

Drama1997109 minsDirector: Stephen Poliakoff

Richard E. Grant leads a dramatic reunion as friends and lovers gather to perform Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in Stephen Poliakoff’s romantic comedy.

All Night Long
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All Night Long

Drama196291 minsDirector: Basil Dearden

Othello is transposed to the 1960s Soho jazz scene as a malevolent drummer sows mistrust between husband-and-wife jazz luminaries.

Hamlet
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Hamlet

Drama197666 minsDirector: Celestino Coronado

The line "the counterfeit presentment of two brothers" inspires a radical rethink of Hamlet, starring identical twins.

The Banquet
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The Banquet

2006125 minsDirector: Feng Xiaogang

Zhang Ziyi (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) stars is this lavish wuxia based on elements from Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Ibsen’s Ghosts.

You Made Me Love You
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You Made Me Love You

Comedy193370 minsDirector: Monty Banks

A loose adaption of The Taming of the Shrew, with Thelma Todd as a spoilt heiress who can’t stand her suitor.

Men Are Not Gods
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Men Are Not Gods

Comedy193683 minsDirector: Walter Reisch

A theatre critic's secretary is caught up in a love triangle involving the stars of a production of Othello.

National Youth Theatre
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National Youth Theatre

196629 minsDirector: John Bloom

Inside a youth production of Coriolanus in the run-up to its West End debut

Music Box
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Music Box

195726 minsDirector: Douglas Hurn

Stage comedy legends The Crazy Gang perform an uproarious extract from A Midsummer Night's Dream in this 1957 TV variety show.

Midsummer Night's Dream
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Midsummer Night's Dream

Fantasy1964110 minsDirector: Joan Kemp-Welch

Delightful TV version of the Bard's most fantastic romantic comedy starring Benny Hill, Anna Massey and Peter Wyngarde

The Tempest
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The Tempest

Drama197996 minsDirector: Derek Jarman

Derek Jarman’s brooding and darkly symbolic third feature is considered by some to be the most evocative Shakespeare adaptation ever to reach the screen.

William Shakespeare/Martha Graham
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William Shakespeare/Martha Graham

196718 minsDirector: John Phillips

Two reports from This Week – The Arts on adaptations of Shakespeare, including scenes from Joan Littlewood’s MacBird, and choreographer Martha Graham.

Julius Caesar

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