English 642F / FLL 639F World Shakespeare on Film

Fall 2002—HEAV 101

Prof. Charles Ross: cross@sla.purdue.edu, office tel 494-3741


Any modern edition of Shakespeare’s plays, plus:

Ryan, Michael. Literary Theory. Oxford: Blackwell, 1999.

Suggested reading: Rosenthal, Daniel. Shakespeare on Screen. London: Hamlyn, 2000.


1.      August 22: World Shakespeare on Film: What does it mean? Bits of Shakespeare in film: A Double Life, The Dresser, Dead Poet’s Society, Alexendria . . . Why?, Arthur;  final pages from Greenblatt’s Shakespearean Negotiations (Berkeley, 1988).


2.      August 29: Cuts and Alterations: reading the text of King Lear


3.      September 5: Art and Ideology: King Lear and critical theory


4.      September 12: Auteur:  Roman Polanksi (Macbeth)


5.      September 19: Auteur: Akiro Kurosawa (Throne of Blood)


6.      September 26: Auteur: Orson Welles (Chimes at Midnight)


7.      October 3: The Hollywood Star: Laurence Olivier (and Freud)


8.      October 10: No class


9.      October 17: Imagery: Zeffirelli’s Taming, Peter Donaldson’s essay


10.  October 24: Imagery: Chick flicks, water, and drugs: Lurhman, scenes of Ophelia, Titan, Blue Crush??, The Piano; mandatory Mercutio drug scenes


11.  October 31: Music,Fantasy, and Marriage: Verdi’s Otello, West Side Story, Ballet, Tieck, Mendelsohn, MSND (Mickey Rooney, Kevin Kline), Disney, fairies, LLL


12.  November 7: Stage Productions on Film or Video: Comedy of Errors , Trevor Nunn Macbeth, Burton Hamlet,


13.  November 14: Video v. Film. Presentations.


14.  November 21: Learning from the Text: Royal Shakespeare lessons; Baz Luhrman’s comments. Presentations.


15.  December 5: Presentations


Assignments: Four presentations (with a written version to be handed in a few days later), a performance of at least 30 memorized lines, and one final paper. The presentations are:

1) a comparison of any film to the original text (and, for comparative literature students, translation of the text into another language);

2) a discussion and comparison of two important articles on the same play (but on different play from the first assignment);

3) a technical analysis of a film sequence, which may include comparisons to other versions of the same scene and versions in different languages, where appropriate;

4) a presentation of your work in progress on your final seminar paper, which should be a substantial (25-35 page) work that develops a topic from several perspectives: meaning, imagery, director, mode, criticism, translation, etc., including computer-generated still photos from DVDs.

You can work in groups for the performances or combine them with your final presentation. Costumes encouraged. 


Tuesday or Wednesday screenings

You are expected to view the following films and read most of the plays: 

1.      Shakespeare Wallah

2.      King Lear (UK/Denmark, Peter Brook 1971)

3.      Ran (Japan/France, Akiro Kurasawa 1985)

4.      Macbeth (UK Roman Polanski 1971)

5.      Throne of Blood (1957, Akiro Kurosawa 1957)

6.      Chimes at Midnight (Spain/Switzerland, Orson Welles, 1966)

7.      Hamlet (UK, Laurence Olivier 1948)

8.      Much Ado About Nothing (UK/US, Kenneth Branagh, 1993)

9.      The Taming of the Shrew (UK/Italy, Franco Zeffirelli 1968)

10.  William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet (US, Baz Luhrman, 1996)

11.  Love’s Labor’s Lost (UK/France/US, Kenneth Branagh, 2000)

12.  The Comedy of Errors (Flying . . . Brothers)

13.  Richard II (starring Derek Jacobi, BBC)

14.  Royal Shakespeare Theater actors


Also, I encourage you to see and use them in your presentations:

10 Things I Hate About You (US, Gil Junger 1999)

Hamlet (US Michael Almereyda [Ethan Hawke] 2000)

King Lear (USSR Girgori Kozintsev 1971)

Looking for Richard (US, Al  Pacino, 1996)

Love’s Labor’s Lost (UK/France/US Kenneth Branagh 2000)

Richard III (UK, Laurence Olivier 1955)

The Taming of the Shrew (US, Sam Taylor 1929)

Titus (Julie Taymor 1999)

William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet (US, Baz Luhrman, 1996)


Possible Paper topics:


Marlon Brando’s Shakespeare: Genius or failure?

Kurosawa: Japanese ideologue or artist?

Welles’s film technique: From Citizen Kane to Othello.

Adapting to opera: film versions of Verdi

The special style of the Russians

Shakespearean fragments from around the world

Versifying in film: solving the problem or ignoring it? Theory and practice.

The video venture: from stage to TV.

Epic failures: filming vast battles.

Costuming and Cross-dressing.

Filming fantasy.