This princely volume conveys the fun of both Shakespeare and film analysis. If contemporary cinema studies often prove as challenging as Elizabethan blank verse, prolific film writer Brode is accessible. He offers historical background, production details, information on critical response, and trenchant analysis. Even so, the depth of coverage varies widely. For example, Brode proclaims Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood (1957) and Ran (1985) to be the "greatest" variations of Macbeth and King Lear, yet he devotes less than two paragraphs to each. His commentary is usually more sustained, however, covering a variety of adaptationsAfrom famous works like Laurence Olivier's Richard III (1955) to controversial projects such as Baz Luhrman's MTV-inspired Romeo and Juliet (1995). If his treatment of early adaptations is lacking, Brode does a fine job of including later, tangential films like Forbidden Planet, a 1956 sf version of The Tempest. Shortcomings aside, all libraries should consider for purchase.ANeal Baker, Earlham Coll., Richmond, IN
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
A critical analysis of (almost) every American film based on a Shakespeare play. Brode (Cinema/Syracuse Univ.; The Films of Robert De Niro, not reviewed, etc.) here assesses everything from the acting of Marlon Brando (Marc Anthony in a 1953 Julius Caesar) and the directing of Orson Welles (Othello, 1952, and Macbeth, 1948) to the Shakespearean content of adaptations like West Side Story (1961). Brode organizes his narrative by individual plays (or linked groups of plays) rather than in chronological order, which means readers must wade through many pages about better-forgotten productions before arriving at the flicks we know and consider good Shakespeare. We learn that there was a 12-minute nickelodeon version of The Taming of the Shrew, and that Mack Sennetts famous Keystone Cops routines owe a debt to the scene with Petruchios servants in the first serious cinematic treatment of this play (1908). Like the original productions at the Globe Theatre, Shakespearean movies have always been popular, Brode points out. The Bards structure, involving many short scenes, is well suited for film, and apparitions like Hamlets ghost anticipated Hollywoods special effects. ``Old Will would have loved the movies,'' beamed Welles. For most productions, Brode cites critical reactions, including those of purists who didnt approve of filming the plays at all. Hes not shy with his own opinions either: a typically bold assessment is that ``[Sidney] Poitier cheated himself, and us, of an important work'' by not playing Othello. Sorry, Shakespeare in Love is too recent to be discussed here. From the Globe to the multiplex, this exhaustive study leaves no stone unturnedand theres the rub. A sizable fraction of Brodes study will be of interest only to film historians. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.See all Editorial Reviews