Spins on Shakespeare?

Greetings and Salutations!

On March 18th, I’ll be hosting the second annual “Shakespeare is Rolling in His Grave Video Marathon” at my apartment. Despite the name, not ALL of the videos shown last year sucked. Among them were “Kiss Me Kate,” “Looking for Richard,” and we TRIED to get “Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” but it was checked out of Hollywood Video.

What I like to get from my fellow Dopers is some more ideas for this year. Basically, I need videos where someone “reinterprets” a Shakespeare play. For example, someone did “The 15 Minute Hamlet,” which I saw on the Independent Film Channel and found brilliant (does anyone know where I can get it?) and last year’s “Hamlet” starring Ethan Hawke and Kyle MacLachlan would also be perfect for my party. There’s a new movie out called “Scotland, PA” which puts an America-circa-1970s spin on “Macbeth,” but I doubt that’ll be out on video by March 18th.

Does anyone else have some good ideas?


Well, there’s the Leo DiCaprio version of Romeo and Juliet, which has the distinct honor of being the only Leo DiCaprio movie I ever enjoyed. (The “reinterpretation” is entirely visual; it takes place in modern California, but the dialog is the same. Except for a couple pieces they moved around and a couple other pieces they made up.)

There’s also Shakespeare in Love, which is fun. The story is about how Bill came up with the idea for R&J. Very funny, and lots of Shakespeare-snob inside jokes.

“I saw her boobies!”

“Men of Respect” with John Turturro and Peter Boyle. It’s “Macbeth”

Akira Kurosawa did a version of “King Lear” called “Ran”

If there’s drinking, watch “Titus” with Anthony Hopkins. There’s no chance of getting it while you’re sober.

“My Own Private Idaho”=“Henry IV”

or, you could always look up Shakespeare in the IMDB

Isn’t Blood Simple the Coen Brothers’ version of MacBeth?

Some of these recommendations will liven up your Marathon, especially the seemingly more “low brow” ones. Strange Brew, Joe MacBeth, and Prospero’s Books fall into your “re-interpretation” category. Enjoy!

Strange Brew: This is a comedy cult classic based on Hamlet. Two Canadians, played by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas (these characters have since appeared on Molson(?) beer commercials, eh) play the roles of Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern trying to save a brewery (um, Denmark?). Funny flick, even though I didn’t realize the *Hamlet *connection until the second time I watched it. Make sure you watch this one, you hoser.

Romeo and Juliet: The Zeffirelli version, of course, though I’m sure any serious Shakespearen cinephile already knows this. Laurence Olivier narrates.

Porky’s II: Okay, not based on any of Shakey’s works, but hilarity ensues after a high school’s Shakespeare festival is cancelled by a stick-in-the-ass modern-day Bowdler who considers the Bard too titilating. A farcical, childishly funny 90 minutes of empty cinematic calories.

Joe MacBeth: A 1950s movie that remakes the play as a gangster flick, with Lady MacBeth as a moll.

Prospero’s Books: This one was released to a lot of fanfare about 6 years ago. Prospero is the old wizard who takes up, not surprisingly, most of the movie. Based on The Tempest.

Looking for Richard: Now this is an interesting one, and directed by Al Pacino to boot. It’s done up as a documentary, including interviews with Kenneth Branagh and others, before showing the actual play (Richard III).

I believe Roman Polanski did a version of MacBeth some time ago, but I’ve never seen it (and don’t know what it’s called either…maybe just MacBeth?).

“10 things I hate about you” was the taming of the Shrew and a feel good movie.

“Romeo Must Die” is a really bad take on R&J, albeit with kung-fu.

“The Lion King.” See if this sounds familiar: Uncle kills kids dad. Kid goes into exile, with two buddies. Kid returns to save kingdom (OK, it’s Disney, we have to have a happy ending).

Okya, while the videos are rewinding, get out a copy of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)
by Jess Borgeson, Adam Long, Daniel Singer & J.M. Winfield. [ISBN: 1557831572]

Act out small ‘interpretive’ scenes -

  • Titus Andronicus as a cooking show
  • Othello as SoCal surfer-dude rap
  • Hamlet in 45 seconds
  • Juliet vomiting on the audience

Caveat - move the furniture and breakable objects before attempting any of Bill’s history plays.

Get a couple of acting buddies and prepare these ahead of time - great fun while the popcorn is being nuked.

Forbidden Planet is, of course, a retelling of the Tempest (in setting, if not plot).

Richard III

Starring Ian McKellan, it is the play moved to the 1930’s in an “alternate reality” facist England. I loved it.

I’ve been waiting for someone to figure this out on their own, but here’s as good a place as any to spill the beans.

If you take the third letter of each sentence in my pithy “I’m going to move this thread” posts, you will see that I am gradually working my way through the sonnets.

Off to IMHO.

1000 Acres

In addition to Kurasawa’s “Ran”, don’t forget “Throne of Blood”, his Japanese take on “Macbeth”.

Somebody already beat me to “Forbidden Planet”, with its links to “The Tempest” (I’ve had arguments about whether FP is just The Tempest in sf drag. That might be the intent of the authors, but all the character’s motivations are different in FP)

Just about all the ones I was thinking of.

If you haven’t, you have to include “Titus”. According to Harlod Bloom Shakespear intended it as a parody of gory Marlowe-type dramas, so maybe he wouldn’t be spinning TOO fast. And there really isn’t any way to do exepct comepetely over the top. And this is completely over the top.

If you can find it, Orson Wells’s “Chimes at Midnight”.

Oh, you know the guy, almost at the end of “Looking for Richard”? Sitting in his truck talking about “A horse, a horse, my kigdom for a horse”? Friend of mine. Close personal friend. Not much of a Shakespear scholar, admittedly.

Al Pacino and Winona Ryder should stay far away from Shakespeare, but if you’re Looking for Richard, get the Ian McKellan one LunaSea mentioned.

I assure you, what you need is Green Eggs and Hamlet. It’s hysterical, especially what they did with Ophelia.

Originally posted by xtal

Hah! I would love that! 'Course, I loved this thread, too. [sub](Check out my contribution… pleeeeaaaaase.)[/sub]

There was a porn film version of “Romeo and Juliet” made in the early to mid’60s which made a tour of the porn theaters of the country around that time. I think it was called “Romeo and Juliet Nude” (or something like that).

Of course there was the Peter Ustinov’s run up of the Bard “Romonoff and Juliet.”

Probably my favorite taking on Willie S. and losing had to be the 1930s “Romeo and Juliet” with all of the MGM stars of the time. Leslie Howard (in his mid to late 30s) played Romeo. John Barrymore did Mercutio quite well though.The credits carried the memorable line “By William Shakespeare with additional dialogue by Ben Hecht.”

It just occured to me that films with Shakespeare “bits” might be right down your alley. I mean films with actors doing strange versions of the Bard in yet other films.

“The Goodbye Girl” comes to mind. Richard Dryfus does an effeminate Richard III in that one.

In the “Producers” I believe Dick Shawn does a bizarre, zoned-out Hamlet.

Shelley Long also does a strange Hamlet at the very end of that film she did with Bette Midler.

Didn’t Dryfus also do something about Hamlet in “Moon over Parador”?

And there is the episode of Andy Griffith which was very similar to R&J.

And as long as I am on television, who can forget the “Moonlighting” version of “Taming of the Shrew.” I loved that one.