Shakespeare Cinema, Part I
April 25-June 29

2014 marks the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare, whose christening day was April 26, 1564. To commemorate this occasion, AFI Silver commences the first of a three-part series, culminating in 2016, which will mark the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death (April 23, 1616). Included in the series will be numerous filmed adaptations of his plays, as well as a wide variety of films that draw upon Shakespearean source material, often in adventurous and unusual ways.

Other institutions collaborating with AFI Silver on this project during this time include The Folger Shakespeare Library, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries and the British Council.

Part I of AFI Silver’s Shakespeare Cinema series is presented in partnership with the British Council. Special thanks to Paul Smith, Director USA, and Kathy Culpin, Events & Networks Manager, British Council.

AFI Member passes accepted at all screenings.


HENRY V (1944)

Or, if you prefer, “The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought at Agincourt in France.” Laurence Olivier’s directorial debut—on top of starring and producing—was filmed and released near the end of WWII, and played as a patriotic spirit-raiser to wartime British audiences. Famous for its progression from a stagebound Globe Theatre setting in Act I through ever more realistic and opened-up settings, culminating in location photography and use of a large cavalry for the climactic battle scenes. Released in the US in 1946, it was awarded an honorary Oscar, citing Olivier’s “outstanding achievement as actor, producer and director in bringing ‘Henry V’ to the screen.”

DIR/PROD Laurence Olivier; SCR from the play “Henry V” by William Shakespeare. UK, 1944, color, 137 min, 35mm. NOT RATED

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Fri, Apr 25, 7:15

HAMLET

Among the many notable screen versions of “Hamlet,” Laurence Olivier's sets a particularly high standard, its shadowy black-and-white cinematography and probing psychology playing like “Shakespeare Noir.” Look for Hammer Films icons Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in two of their earliest roles, and a young Jean Simmons as Ophelia. Seven Oscar nominations and four wins, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Olivier.

DIR/SCR Laurence Olivier; SCR William Shakespeare. UK, 1948, b&w, 155 min, DCP. NOT RATED

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Sat, Apr 26, 4:30

RICHARD III
Newly restored DCP!

With a preamble asserting, “The history of the world, like letters without poetry, flowers without perfume, or thought without imagination, would be a dry matter indeed without its legends,” Laurence Olivier digs into serving up the legend of the most evil king in English history, as imagined by Shakespeare, from “the winter of our discontent” to “my kingdom for a horse!” Though unsuccessful upon its initial 1955 theatrical release, the film enjoyed a landmark U.S. television broadcast that same year (given the multi-million-member TV audience, the BFI has claimed that it "may have done more to popularize Shakespeare than any other single work"), and was a hit upon theatrical re-release a decade later, while its critical reputation has only grown with time. With Ralph Richardson, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, John Gielgud, Claire Bloom and Stanley Baker.

DIR/SCR/PROD Laurence Olivier; SCR from the plays “Richard III” and “Henry VI: Part III” by William Shakespeare; PROD Alexander Korda. UK, 1955, color, 161 min, DCP. NOT RATED

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Sun, Apr 27, 4:00

ROMEO AND JULIET

Franco Zeffirelli’s lush, romantic and wildly popular ‘60s adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet,” at the time the most successful Shakespeare screen adaptation, struck a chord with youth audiences around the world, breaking with stage tradition to cast younger actors (newcomers Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting) closer to the star-crossed lovers’ actual ages. Nominated for four Oscars, with wins for Best Cinematography and Costume Design. The narration is by an uncredited Laurence Olivier.

DIR/SCR Franco Zeffirelli; SCR Franco Brusati, Masolino D’Amico, from the play “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare; PROD Jon Brabourne, Anthony Havelock-Allan. UK/Italy, 1968, color, 138 min, 35mm. RATED PG

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Sun, May 4, 8:45

HENRY V (1989)
25th Anniversary!

Kenneth Branagh rocketed to international stardom with this winning screen adaptation of Shakespeare’s rousing “Henry V,” for Branagh, as it was with Olivier, his feature directorial debut. The wonderful cast includes Branagh as the newly crowned king, who must rally the English troops with his St. Crispin’s Day speech; plus Ian Holm (Fluellen), Judi Dench (Mistress Quickly), Robbie Coltrane (Falstaff), Paul Scofield (Charles VI), Brian Blessed (Exeter) and Emma Thompson (Katherine). Narrated by Derek Jacobi; Branagh received Oscar nominations for both his acting and directing.

DIR/SCR Kenneth Branagh; SCR from the play “Henry V” by William Shakespeare; PROD Bruce Sharman. UK, 1989, color, 137 min, 35mm. RATED PG-13

Print courtesy of the Yale Film Study Center

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Sat, May 10, 4:45; Thu, May 15, 6:45

THRONE OF BLOOD [蜘蛛巣城]

Akira Kurosawa's adaptation of “Macbeth” finds Toshirô Mifune in feudal Japan as a victorious warlord who becomes obsessed with and ultimately enslaved by his quest for power. When he becomes lost in a labyrinthine forest, Mifune encounters an old woman who prophesies that he will ascend to the throne. But when his calculating wife cajoles him into taking the throne by force, a series of bloody events, and unexpected twists, ensues.

DIR/SCR/PROD Akira Kurosawa; SCR Shinobu Hashimoto, Ryûzô Kikushima, Hideo Oguni, from “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare; PROD Sôjirô Motoki. Japan, 1957, b&w, 110 min, 35mm. In Japanese with English subtitles. NOT RATED

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Mon, May 12, 9:20; Wed, May 14, 9:45; Thu, May 15, 9:30

WEST SIDE STORY

Sharks! Jets! Ten Oscar wins, including Best Picture, for the dazzling screen adaptation of Broadway's "Romeo and Juliet"-inspired musical smash, a tale of forbidden love starring Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer. Unforgettable for the brilliant Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim score (with songs including "Maria," "Tonight," "Jet Song" and "America") and Jerome Robbins' vibrant choreography, featuring the Oscar-winning footwork of George Chakiris and Rita Moreno.

DIR/PROD Robert Wise; DIR Jerome Robbins; SCR Ernest Lehman, from the musical by Arthur Laurents and Jerome Robbins, music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. US, 1961, color, 151 min, DCP. NOT RATED

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Tue, May 20, 6:45; Mon, May 26, 4:00

10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU
15th Anniversary!

This ‘90s teen classic transports Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” to the halls of Padua High School. It’s love at first sight for new kid Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) when he spies the beautiful Bianca (Larisa Oleynik). But the object of his affection can’t start dating until her thorny older sister, feminist riot grrrl fan Kat (Julia Stiles), goes on a date of her own. Cameron hatches a plot, bribing rebellious outcast Patrick (Heath Ledger) to woo the strong-willed Kat. Although their courtship begins on a false note, the two reluctantly realize that they might be made for each other.

DIR Gil Junger; SCR Karen McCullah, Kirsten Smith, from the play by William Shakespeare; PROD Andrew Lazar. US, 1999, color, 97 min, 35mm. RATED PG-13

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Sat, May 31, 6:30; Sun, Jun 1, 6:30

CAMPANADAS A MEDIANOCHE aka CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT aka FALSTAFF

Orson Welles' unique and inventive take on Shakespeare's Falstaff cribs from the handful of plays in which the beloved character appears to create a single work with Falstaff as the star, played by Welles with great comic brio and perhaps autobiographical pathos. The cast includes French icon Jeanne Moreau as Doll Tearsheet, Sir John Gielgud as the vexed King Henry IV and local Shakespeare Theatre regular Keith Baxter as Prince Hal.

DIR/SCR Orson Welles, from plays by William Shakespeare; PROD Ángel Escolano, Emiliano Piedra, Harry Saltzman. France/Spain/Switzerland, 1965, b&w, 115 min, DCP. NOT RATED

Followed by:
LAS VERSIONES DE CAMPANADAS A MEDIANOCHE DE ORSON WELLES

This documentary examines the complicated production history of Orson Welles’ CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT, which resulted in various versions being released in different parts of the world. DIR Luciano Berriatúa. Spain, 2012, b&w, 18 min, DCP. In Spanish with English subtitles. NOT RATED

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Sat, Jun 7, 7:30

MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO

"[A] decade-defining punk of a movie." –Michael Atkinson, The Village Voice

Gus Van Sant audaciously transposes Shakespeare's “Henry IV” into a male hustler's demi-monde in Portland, Oregon. River Phoenix gives a heartbreaking performance as a dreamy—narcoleptic, in fact—gay prostitute in love with rich kid Keanu Reeves: a naive and penniless Ned Poins to Reeves' calculatedly slumming Prince Hal. Cult star William Richert impresses as "Bob Pigeon," the boys' bad-influence Falstaff figure. Comically trashy and achingly poignant, Van Sant's vision remains true to the larger themes of the source material.

DIR/SCR Gus Van Sant, from “Henry IV” by William Shakespeare; PROD Laurie Parker. US, 1991, color, 102 min, 35mm. RATED R

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Sat, Jun 7, 10:00; Sun, Jun 8, 9:45; Thu, Jun 12, 9:15

OTHELLO
Introduction by Dr. Michael Witmore, Director, Folger Shakespeare Library

Laurence Fishburne wows as the Moor of Venice in Oliver Parker’s 1995 screen adaptation of “Othello,” the first major motion picture to cast an actor of actual African descent in the role, breaking with the blackface tradition of the stage and previous films starring Orson Welles and Laurence Olivier in the part. With Kenneth Branagh as the jealous, deceiving Iago, who summons the “the green-eyed monster” that undoes Othello, and Irène Jacob as the wronged Desdemona.

DIR/SCR Oliver Parker; SCR from the play “Othello” by William Shakespeare; PROD David Barron. US/UK, 1995, color, 123 min, 35mm. RATED R

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Fri, Jun 13, 7:20

O

A clever transposition of Shakespeare’s “Othello” to a high school in the American South: Odin (Mekhi Phifer) is the only black student at the elite Palmetto Grove private school. The star player on the school’s basketball team, Odin or “O” is hugely popular among his classmates, and is dating the beautiful Desi (Julia Stiles), the daughter of the school’s dean (John Heard). But O’s talent, popularity and bright future cause his best friend and teammate Hugo (Josh Hartnett), the son of their coach (Martin Sheen), to become consumed with jealousy. Secretly starting rumors around school and orchestrating schemes, Hugo causes O to lose faith in Desi and his own sense of self, shattering his world and setting disastrous events in motion.

DIR Tim Blake Nelson; SCR Brad Kaaya, from the play “Othello” by William Shakespeare; PROD Eric Gitter, Daniel Fried, Anthony Rhulen. US, 2001, color, 95 min, Blu-ray. RATED R

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Wed, Jun 18, 7:15

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM

Peter Hall directed this visually inventive Royal Shakespeare Company production, which boasts a hugely impressive cast: Judi Dench as Titania, Diana Rigg as Helena, Helen Mirren as Hermia, Ian Richardson as Oberon, David Warner as Lysander, Barbara Jefford as Hippolyta and Ian Holm as Puck.

DIR Peter Hall; SCR from the play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare; PROD Michael Birkett. UK, 1968, color, 124 min, 35mm. NOT RATED

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Sat, Jun 28, 7:00

A PERFORMANCE OF MACBETH

Trevor Nunn’s acclaimed, minimalist, theater-in-the-round production of “Macbeth” from 1976 was documented as a filmed play for television, with a limited theatrical release. Ian McKellen stars as Macbeth, the Thane of Cawdor, prophesied by the three witches to become the next King of Scotland. Judi Dench is riveting as Lady Macbeth, undone by her murderous ambition.

DIR Philip Casson; SCR/PROD Trevor Nunn, from the play “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare. UK, 1979, color, 142 min, digital presentation. NOT RATED

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Sun, Jun 29, 1:00