William I by Michael Gambon in Blood Royal: William the Conqueror (1990) William II by Peter Firth in Blood Royal: William the Conqueror (1990) Henry I by Clive Wood in The Pillars of the Earth (2010) Stephen by Tony Curran in The Pillars of the Earth (2010) Henry II by Patrick Stewart in The Lion in Winter (2003) Richard I by Sean Connery in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) John by Paul Giamatti in Ironclad (2011) Henry III by Rusty Livingstone in King John (1984) Edward I by Patrick McGoohan Braveheart (1995) Edward II by Ian McKellen in Edward II (1970) Edward III by Ben Willbond in Horrible Histories (2009) Richard II by Ben Wishaw in The Hollow Crown (2012) Henry IV by Jeremy Irons in The Hollow Crown (2012) Henry V by Kenneth Branagh in Henry V (1989) Henry VI by Peter Benson in Henry The Sixth (1983) Edward IV by Max Irons in The White Queen (2013) Edward V by Sonny Serkis in The White Queen (2013) Richard III by Laurence Olivier in Richard III (1955) Henry VII by Michael Marcus in The White Queen (2013) Henry VIII by Keith Michell in The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970) Edward VI by Jason Kemp in Elizabeth R (1971) Mary I by Joanne Whalley in The Virgin Queen (2005) Elizabeth I by Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth (1998) James I by Robert Carlyle in Gunpowder, Treason & Plot (2004) Charles I by Peter Capaldi in The Devil’s Whore (2008) Charles II by Rufus Sewell in Charles II: The Power and The Passion (2003) James II by John Westbrook in The First Churchills (1969) William III & Mary II by Alan Rowe & Lisa Daniely in The First Churchills (1969) Anne by Margaret Tyzack in The First Churchills (1969) George I by Peter Bull in Saraband for Dead Lovers (1948) George II by Richard Griffiths in Pirates of the Caribbean:On Stranger Tides (2011) George III by Nigel Hawthorne in The Madness of King George (1994) George IV by Hugh Bonneville in Beau Brummell: This Charming Man (2006) William IV by Jim Broadbent in The Young Victoria (2009) Victoria by Annette Crosbie in Edward the Seventh (1975) Edward VII by Timothy West in Edward the Seventh (1975) George V by Tom Hollander in The Lost Prince (2003) Edward VIII by Stephen Campbell Moore in Wallis & Edward (20005) George VI by Colin Firth in The King’s Speech (2010) Elizabeth II by Helen Mirren in The Queen (2006)
• Play On! Shakespeare in Silent Film (2016). A feature length celebration from the BFI National Archive draws together a selection from more than two dozen Shakespeare films from 1899 to the close of the silent film era. • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2014). Directed by Julie Taymor. With Kathryn Hunter, David Harewood, Max Casella. • Coriolanus (2011). Directed by Ralph Fiennes. Screenplay by John Logan. With Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Brian Cox. • Deliver Us from Eva (2003). Directed by Gary Hardwick. Screenplay by James IverMattson, B.E. Brauner, Hardwick. With LL Cool J, Gabrielle Union, Duane Martin. Based on The Taming of the Shrew. • Maqbool (2003). Directed by Vishal Bhardwaj. Screenplay by Abbas Tyrewala, Bhardwaj. With Irrfan Kahn, Tabu, Panjak Kapur. Based on Macbeth. • O (2001). Directed by Tim Blake Nelson. Screenplay by Brad Kaaya. With Mekhi Phifer, Martin Sheen, Julia Stiles. Based on Othello. • Hamlet (2000). Written and directed by Michael Almereyda. With Ethan Hawke, Kyle MacLachlan, Julia Stiles. • Titus (1999). Written and directed by Julie Taymor. With Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange, Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Based on Titus Andronicus. • Looking for Richard (1996). Directed by Al Pacino. Narration written by Al Pacino, Frederic Kimball. With Pacino, Penelope Allen, Winona Ryder. • Romeo + Juliet (1996). Directed by Baz Luhrmann. Screenplay by Craig Pearce, Luhrman. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, John Leguizamo. • Tromeo & Juliet (1996). Directed by Lloyd Kaufman. Screenplay by Kaufman, James Gun. With Jane Jensen, Will Keenan, Sean Gunn. Based on Romeo and Juliet. • Richard III (1995). Directed by Richard Loncraine. Screenplay by Loncraine, Ian McKellen. With Ian McKellen, Robert Downey Jr., Annette Bening. • Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead (1990). Written and directed by Tom Stoppard. With Gary Oldman, Tim Roth, Richard Dreyfuss. Based on Hamlet.> • Henry V (1989). Written and directed by Kenneth Branagh. With Branagh, Judi Dench, Paul Scofield. • The Tempest (1979). Written and directed by Derek Jarman. With Heathcote Williams, Peter Bull, Toyah Wilcox. • King Lear (1971). Written and directed by Peter Brook. With Paul Scofield, Irene Worth, Cyril Cusack. • Macbeth (1971). Directed by Roman Polanski. Screenplay by Polanski, Kenneth Tynan. With John Finch, Francesca Annis, Martin Shaw. • Romeo and Juliet (1968). Directed by Franco Zeffirelli. Screenplay by Franco Brusati, Masolino D’Amico, Zeffirelli. With Leonard Whiting, Olivia Hussey, Michael York. • All Night Long (1962). Directed by Basil Dearden. Screenplay by Nel King, Paul Jarrico. With Patrick McGoohan, Marti Stevens, Paul Harris. Based on Othello. • Forbidden Planet (1956). Directed by Fred M. Wilcox. Screenplay by Cyril Hume. With Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen. Based on The Tempest. • Hamlet (1948). Directed by Laurence Olivier. Starring Olivier, Eileen Herlie, Jean Simmons.
‘I can’t tell you how many boxes of matches we went through. Sometimes it would light, sometimes it wouldn’t, sometimes it would break, sometimes I’d light it and it would go out too soon, sometimes I’d light it and I’d be holding it in the wrong place. It took a long time. Eventually I think there were about two takes when it worked. But we went through a lot of matches, a lot.’
– Derek Jacobi on filming the 'O! for a Muse of fire’ scene in Henry V (1989)
TOP 10 MOVIES BY GENRE [20/36] → Shakespeare Adaptations
Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Richard III (1995), Throne of Blood (1957), Coriolanus (2012), Henry V (1989), Richard III (1955), Macbeth (1979), Ran (1985), Romeo + Juliet (1996), Much Ado About Nothing (2013)
For allieinarden, who has recently become acquainted with the play.
Henry V (1979) (“the BBC version”)
[It’s been a while since I’ve seen this one, so my memory may not be good.]
Pros: This production was filmed (like most BBC drama at the time) on a set, giving it the feel of an actual play and making the Chorus’s Prologue actually seem relevant. It’s one of the few versions to pay enough attention to historical detail to provide reasonably accurate costumes for the early fifteenth century. The actor who plays Henry V actually bears something of a resemblance to him, down to that dreadful bowl haircut and a scarred cheek left over from the Battle of Shrewsbury back in 1 Henry IV (the historical Henry, at age 16, was shot in the face by an arrow during that battle). Abridgements are relatively minimal and include often-cut bits such as the Boy’s speech and the leek scene. The humor is allowed to remain—Fluellen is actually funny this time, and in general the cast is pretty good. (If you’ve seen the Granada Sherlock Holmes series, you might recognize this Henry V. He was also Watson’s old schoolmate in “The Naval Treaty.”)
Cons: Along with the stagey feel comes not-so-great production values. The sets are a bit obvious. Also, there’s not so much cinematography, which could have given it greater dramatic impact. As far as establishing mood and fully utilizing the medium of film, this version is rather lacking. Also, it has a bit of a dated feel as well (you can tell it was made in the seventies).
Henry V (1989) (“the Branagh version”)
Pros: This is probably the most cinematically impressive of the ones I’ve seen.” The visuals and the soundtrack are lovely (a particularly moving scene depicts the English army after Agincourt, trudging across the field and singing “Non nobis”). The St. Crispin’s day speech is extremely energetic, and the battles are suitably gritty. The cast is generally very good, full of well-known names (Fluellen is Bilbo Baggins, and the Boy [dubbed “Robin” by the credits] is Batman!), and their dramatic scenes are pulled off effectively.
Cons: However, most of the comedic scenes are either cut or played with unusual gravitas. Several important scenes/lines are cut. In an effort to demonstrate how the English are disadvantaged, attention to historical accuracy in the armor is completely ignored.
Henry V (2012) (“the Hollow Crown version”)
Pros: Hiddleston’s performance as Henry is good—very responsible and world-weary. An emphasis is placed on his faith, which is indeed a significant aspect of his character in the play though most film version gloss over it. Production values are excellent, and outdoor locations are utilized. The proposal scene is well pulled off. In addition, most of Henry’s harshest moments are included (down to the full frightening speech at Harfleur); this version doesn’t sugarcoat his character, nor is it a hatchet job. Some historical context is included, showing Henry’s funeral and a brief cameo of his infant son. And I won’t give anything away, but this version has a unusual twist on the Chorus.
Cons: The cuts are extensive and puzzling. It feels like watching Cliff’s notes sometimes. The “important” bits are ticked off, leaving little time for the minor characters. Many of these are cut, leaving Henry with about three or four nobles in his court. His brothers have vanished and their roles sometimes appropriated by the Duke of York, included presumably because his death has dramatic potential. (The historical background of York is ignored too—he’s the same person as Aumerle from Richard II and was Henry’s cousin. The Hollow Crown’s version is clearly no relation.) York’s death replaces the murder of the boys as the event that makes Henry angry for the first time. Essentially, many parts were cut and pasted and reinterpreted to fit the director’s vision—rather disrespectful to Shakespeare’s original storyline. This version is trying desperately to be different from Branagh’s memorable take on the play, to the point that it’s a bit dry and nondramatic. (Henry’s big speeches, “Once more unto the breach” and St. Crispin’s Day, are played lowkey, like pep talks to small, contained groups.) Furthermore, almost all comic relief has been expunged, most notably with Fluellen, who is played utterly serious. The costumes are visually pleasing but not terribly accurate. In fact, this production is treated as less of a history and more of a story, if that makes sense.