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The Edinburgh Companion to Shakespeare and the Arts$
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Mark Thornton Burnett and Adrian Streete

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780748635238

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748635238.001.0001

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Shakespeare on Film, 1930–90

Shakespeare on Film, 1930–90

Chapter:
(p.484) 26 Shakespeare on Film, 1930–90
Source:
The Edinburgh Companion to Shakespeare and the Arts
Author(s):

Anne-Marie Costantini-Cornède

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748635238.003.0027

This chapter describes the Shakespearean filmmaking during the period 1930–90. The notable auteur figures include Akira Kurosawa, Laurence Olivier and Orson Welles, and the types of film mentions for critical attention extend to classical productions, film noirs and picturesque fantasies. It provides some comments in relation to numbers, idiosyncratic styles, ideological differences and the use of the film noirs genre for various adaptations of Hamlet. Olivier's Henry V was the first Technicolor Shakespeare. The actor-director's duality is illustrated as he endeavours to balance the theatrical and the filmic, cinematic novelty and reverence, indulging in excited reinventions that simultaneously honour textual specifics. Akira Kurosawa's The Bad Sleep Well is a Hamlet-infused adaptation. In all of Welles' films, skewed angles and pronounced camera mobility allow for unconventional frame compositions and create a general effect of spatial fragmentation or disjunction suggestive of psychological complexities. Prospero's Books is more affirming in its Shakespearean attitudes.

Keywords:   Shakespearean filmmaking, Akira Kurosawa, Laurence Olivier, Orson Welles, film noirs, Hamlet, Henry V, The Bad Sleep Well

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