Four Centuries of Shakespeare

14 September – 14 December, 2016

Film still from A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1935


The year 2016 marks four hundred years since William Shakespeare’s death. The Bard’s works continue to inspire and confound, with significant motion picture versions appearing on a regular basis. In this series, films have been chosen for manageable durations as well as their overall quality. The series begins and ends with films about The Bard, kicking off with the Oscar-Winning Shakespeare in Love and concluding with Anonymous, which questions Shakespeare’s authorship.

14 September - Shakespeare in Love

John Madden, USA, 1998, 123 minutes. Winner of the Oscar for Best Picture, John Madden portrays Shakespeare as an actor and ambitious playwrite on his way up in Elizabethan England.

21 September - A Midsummer Night’s Dream

William Dieterle, Max Reinhardt, USA, 1935, 133 minutes. Legendary director Max Reinhardt’s Hollywood production sports all the Warner Brothers contract actors in full flight, with a particularly dazzling production design.

28 September - As You Like It

Paul Czinner, UK, 1936, 96 minutes. A young Laurence Olivier stars in this pastoral take on one of The Bard’s most beloved comedies.

5 October – Macbeth

Orson Welles, USA, 1948, 107 minutes. Welles low-budget production sports expressionistic lighting and camerawork while anchored by terrific performances by Welles and his company.

12 October - King Lear

Andrew McCullough, USA, 1953, 75 minutes. This radical television production by the great theatrical innovator Peter Brook features Orson Welles in the title role against a bleak, minimalistic designs; the Edmund sub-plot has been omitted.

19 October - Romeo and Juliet

Franco Zeffirelli, Italy/UK, 1968, 138 minutes. Using real teenagers in the title roles and sporting Italian Renaissance locations and a rapturous score by Fellini’s composer Nina Rota, this Romeo and Juliet remains the definitive film version.

26 October – Hamlet

Tony Richardson, UK, 1969, 117 minutes. Angry Young Man director Richardson’s legendary London Roundhouse production’s film version crackles with energy. Nicol Williamson and Marianne Faithfull star.

2 November - Henry V

Kenneth Branagh, UK, 1989, 137 minutes. The most successful of all latter-day Shakespeare adaptations, Branagh’s neo-classic version rings with postmodern irony and bravura acting.

9 November - The Tempest

Julie Taymor, USA, 2010, 110 minutes. Taymor casts Helen Mirren as Prospera in this gender-bending twist on The Bard’s best-known late play.

16 November – Coriolanus

Ralph Fiennes, UK, 201o, 123 minutes. Fiennes stars and directs himself as the Roman general who must side with his own enemies after rejection from his Roman power base. Swift and raw, one of Shakespeare’s earlier plays comes alive with a great deal of violence and action.

23 November - Much Ado About Nothing

Joss Whedon, USA, 2012, 109 minutes. Whedon’s take on Much Ado About Nothing places the play at a Hollywood house party, in black and white, with modern dress but Shakespearian dialogue.

14 December – Anonymous

Roland Emmerich, Germany/UK/USA, 2011, 130 minutes. A luxuriant thriller that suggests The Bard was a front for a subversive aristocrat. Anonymous stars Rhys Ifans and Vanessa Redgrave.