In Search of Shakespeare
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Explore the life of the world's greatest writer through a mixture of travel sequences, scholarly interviews, and re-created adventure sequences. IN SEARCH OF SHAKESPEARE sets The Bard's life against the backdrop of his turbulent era of militarism, domestic surveillance, and foreign wars. Relive the Spanish Armada, the Gunpowder Plot, colonization of the New World, and England's Cultural Revolution, among other events. Hosted by Michael Wood.
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Hosted by Michael Wood, this four-part history series explores the life of the world's greatest writer. Mixing travel, adventure, interviews and specially shot sequences with the Royal Shakespeare Company on the road, the series sets the life of Shakespeare in the turbulent times in which he lived--a time of surveillance, militarism and foreign wars. The Bard lived through the Spanish Armada, the Gunpowder Plot and the colonization of the New World, and saw firsthand England's Cultural Revolution, which led the English people into a new Protestant future.
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The series is divided into 4 one hour programs...1) A Time of Revolution, 2) The Lost Years, 3) The Duty of Poets, 4) For All Time. Number One sets the stage admirably with its focus on Catholic -vs- Protestant (Shakespeare's family and friends were Catholic) giving us loads of background on the politics of early Elizabethan England. Number Three focuses on what sets Shakespeare's poems and plays apart from his contemporaries. Number Four focuses on Shakespeare's final years and on his lasting legacy as a writer. The title FOR ALL TIME is taken from a quote by Shakespeare's great contemporary, Ben Jonson.
I have saved Part Two for last for the title THE LOST YEARS says it all. It covers from 1583 when Shakespeare was 19 and newly married to Anne Hathaway who was 7 years older (their first child was on the way) to 1593 when Shakespeare emerges as the number one playwright after the murder of Christopher Marlowe. It is in this episode where, despite his diligent and painstaking efforts, Wood can only surmise what must have happened during that time. Where did Shakespeare live? What did he do? Who was his mistress? All enticing questions that, for now, cannot be answered. There's too much "Could this have been?" and "I think so."
Nevertheless IN SEARCH OF SHAKESPEARE is a remarkable and entertaining program that gives us a solid picture of what it was like to live in Elizabethan England. I was surprised and fascinated by the archives which contained a wealth of everyday detail concerning people under the watch of Elizabeth's spies. It was like a 16th century version of the present day electronic surveillance exposed by Edward Snowden. The visual splendor of the English countryside is breathtaking (this documentary is part travelogue) and the number of places associated with Shakespeare that still exist is remarkable. Overall a 5 star effort but not the final word on the subject.
Scenes from Shakespeare's plays are enacted throughout by the Royal Shakespeare Company and in TWELFTH NIGHT you can see a young Eddie Redmayne at the start of his career. Other notables include Anthony Sher looking quite like Mark Strong and old pro Julian Glover (INDIANA JONES & THE LAST CRUSADE) as King Lear.
All I have to say about this very entertaining show is.... What if Michael Wood is basically correct in some of his assertions since there is supposedly not a lot of historical info to go ???? Until some hard core info shows up in a forgotten drawer...... who knows !!!!