An Introduction to Shakespeare Film Adaptations (and why they’re awesome)

Since a few participants of the 2016 Bardathon Challenge are interested in a list of recommendations for Shakespearean film adaptations, I’m putting together a blog post…or twenty. It seems my academic and fangirl personas have been conspiring behind my (sore and bad) back, and now I’ve no choice but to talk at little length and with great gusto about these film adaptations.


Before getting started, I want to put forth my definition of adaptation, which has been shaped by my academic work on Shakespearean films. Over three years ago, I had a rather limiting view of what an ‘adaptation’ constituted, and would always be comparing those adaptations to Shakespeare’s ‘originals’ in terms of what the new versions lacked. Now, I think of adaptations as entities in and of themselves, and not ‘copies’ or imitations’ of Shakespeare’s plays.

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Shakespearean authorship, originality, and theatre practices

I hope you’ve had a good week, and have been throwing around some Shakespeare-related terms like “Renaissance” and “Elizabethan” like celebratory confetti! Today’s post—which is a little on the long side, so feel free to read it with two biscuits instead of one—is about breaking the “Bardolatry Barrier” (formed by idolising the “Bard”, one of Shakespeare’s nicknames) by considering some of the vastly different writing and performance practices during the Renaissance, and lowering him a little on that literary pedestal (not by too much, though—I wouldn’t want to be branded as a dissident and lose my Shakespeare PhD funding!).


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Elizabethan, Jacobean, Renaissance, early modern—what huh when who?

I hope you all had a chance to indulge in some celebratory birthday cake for dear Shakespeare last Thursday—I certainly went for it, and had three servings of cake (I figured it was my duty as a professional Shakespeare fangirl to om nom nom on his behalf). While we’re at it, here’s one of the cakes I had, with some theme-appropriate roses:

Happy birthday, Shakespeare--I'll eat all the cake on your behalf!

Happy birthday, Shakespeare–I’ll eat all the cake on your behalf!

Okay, so those of you non-Shakespeareans who haven’t seen Shakespeare in Love might be thinking, “What’s so special about roses?” Well, first and foremost, I highly recommend you go see the film—the music is sublime, as is Joseph Fiennes in a perpetually half-open shirt.

Will and his quill.

Will and his quill.

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