Roger von Oech

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Mark McGuinness

Great survey Roger, I really must try the Branagh Hamlet.

My favourite Shakespeare film is probably Prospero's Books - totally over the top and darkly magical, and Gielgud is a magnificent Prospero.

I also like Kurosawa's samurai versions of Shakespeare - Throne of Blood (Macbeth) is stunning and Ran (King Lear) is also pretty good.

Doug van Orsow


I also recently watched Olivier's Hamlet and listened to Branagh's Hamlet. The hype over Olivier made me think it wasn't so great, but even just hearing the Branagh Hamlet made it so much more of a completed feeling and experience.

You may find my Teaching Company user forums useful where I review all lectures in recent courses:

Feel free to read, reply or post.


Doug van Orsow
forum moderator

Cam Beck

I don't know if it's good or bad, since I fell asleep barely after the opening credits, but based on it's inability to hold my attention, I'm going to say it's perhaps best to avoid Titus (1999).

Roger von Oech

Mark: Yep, I agree with you. Both "Throne of Blood" and "Ran" are very good. Indeed, I think that "Ran" is one of the most powerful films I've ever seen.

Roger von Oech

Cam: I agree with you about "Titus." Although, in fairness to the film, I wasn't really in a "Shakespeare Fame of Mind" when I watched it.

Doug: Thanks for the offer.

Rob Donoghue

Ian McKellan's Richard III (1995) is my go-to movie to show people exactly how magnificent Shakespeare can be on the screen. It uses the early 20th century as a backdrop, allowing the use of some fascist imagery, which works perfectly with McKellan's performance. Branagh's Hamlet (Which I was lucky enough to catch in full on the big screen - the intermission was _necessary_) is the only thing that keeps me from handing it the crown.

Baz Luhrman's Romeo and Juliet (1996) is well worth seeing, if only for _how_ he did it. Modern setting, classical language and a certain amount of music video sensibility make for something that is a flawed but magnificent effort.

For pure silly fun, "10 Things I Hate About You" is a teen comedy telling of "Taming of the Shrew" and is far better than it has any business being.

Stephen Denny

YES TO RICHARD III WITH IAN MCKELLAN. This is the best of them, for my money. Not only the fascist backdrop, but the use of his Sonnets as the vocal score set to the big band numbers playing as background music.

Was ever woman in such humor wooed? Was ever woman in such humor won??


Roger von Oech

Rob and Stephen: I had completely forgotten about Ian McKellan's "Richard III." (I think I was focusing on "tragedies" and Richard III is usually classified as a "history.")

I saw it in 1997 or 1998, and I agree that it's well worth viewing. You're right that the 1930s fascist imagery is a great backdrop. Very good supporting cast including Annette Bening, Robert Downey, jr., Jim Broadbent, Maggie Smith, and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Rob Donoghue

You're right of course, it is properly a history. It's just such a _grim_ one that I tend to forget. :)



"Richard III" with McKellan to echo those above.
Baz Lurhmans "Romeo and Juliet". Kenneth Branagh's version of "Much Ado About Nothing" is a wonderful comedy (and shows Shakespeare's range) wonderful performances with one exception - Keanu Reeves). Branaghs "Henry V" is excellent. If you like Hamlet (I don't like the play) then try Branagh's version of it.



Have to echo Baz Luhrman's Romeo and Juliet - was reluctant to watch originally, but when I did, I really loved the interpretation Luhrman did and the way he brought elements of the play into his world.

Roger von Oech

Dermot: Another Richard III fan, and also a Branagh one well!

Jen: I'll have to check out Baz's R&J.

Shakespeare's Fool


I'm not sure even you can get me to attend to more commentary on Shakespeare, but The Teaching Company's "Joy of Thinking: The Beauty and Power of Classical Mathematical Ideas" by Michael Starbird and Edward B. Burger was so enjoyable (particularly the part about the 4th dimension) that I just might.

Every video I've seen of Romeo and Juliet has something to recommend it.

The DVD of Romeo and Juliet by the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Ontario, Canada (
= ) excels in many ways. The performance of Juliet, particularly the scene which includes the lines

Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-brow'd night,
Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.

is as good as anything I have ever seen. I could wear out the rewind button on it.

Mark McGuinness,
Yes, I should look up Kurosawa. Thank you for the reminder.


Roger von Oech

John: Thanks for the recommendations. (Although I was expecting at least one reference to King Lear from you : -)

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