It’s a comedy: Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s daughter.

Posted on May 20, 2009. Filed under: Movies to see before you die, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

OK, this should be a quickie, since I have an exam tomorrow and am (clearly) not revising for it, but I wont be able to concentrate until I’ve blogged. (I think it’s becoming an obsession).

Last night a rediscovered a film I hadn’t seen in ages and I wanted to remind you all of it ‘cos I’m willing to bet most of you have forgotten about it too.  Depite the fact it won 7 Oscars.  In fact, the reason for me not watching it for so long was that I only have it on video…that was an old school experience.

The film in question is Shakespeare in Love.  It’s a brilliant movie, imagining how the great writer came up Romeo and Juliet based on his own experience as a star cross’d lover.  With an awesome ensemble cast featuring everyone from Ben Affleck to Geoffrey Rush via Martin Clunes the film is pretty much flawless; both funny and tragic (not unlike the play).  This was the film that gave Gwynnie her Oscar (I think she’s still crying) and also features a brilliant Joseph Fiennes-the far superior Fiennes brother but much overlooked in favour of his irritating brother Ralph (even more annoying because it’s pronounced “Rafe”).  Judi Dench won Best Supporting Actress for the film, all the more impressive since she’s on screen for less than fifteen minutes.  She’s just that good.  Not one member of the cast lets it down, and the (Oscar winning) writing is perfect.  The score (Stephen Warbeck) is also one of my favourites.

The juxtaposition between the on stage rehearsals and the writing process is brilliant, particularly when Fiennes recites Juliet’s lines to Paltrow’s Romeo.  And for Bard scholars (or just people like me who can recite a few Sonnets) the film is littered with references to  the other great works.  Keep an eye out for Sonnet 18, a definite Banquo’s ghost moment and of course, Twelfth Night.  Not to mention some nod’s to the Kit Marlow conspiracy and an appearance from a young (and disturbed) John Webster.

In Shakespeare in Love, you’re really getting two movies for the price of one, as most of the play is also seen.  While it may be a complete work of fiction, it’s beliveable enough that Shakespeare could have been inspried by a muse like Viola, particularly if he looked like Fiennes rather than the bald guy we’re used to.  Having recently watched Moulin Rouge, I have an idea where Baz Luhrmann’s inspiration came from, but as a plot device, having the writing and rehearsal of a play taking place simultaneously is really engaging.  The cast being so good, I always end up wanting to see their version of the great tragedy.  I have a feeling it’d be pretty awesome.

Hmmm....who do we prefer....?

You may well have seen it before, but if you haven’t I defintely recommend it.  In fact, I’m keeping my eye out for a DVD  so that next time I watch it the picture isn’t a bit wobbly (I’d forgotten the dodgyness of the old VHS).  It helps that Romeo and Juliet is my favourite play, but even if you hate Shakespeare I defy you to dislike this film.

Right…revision….really…

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5 Responses to “It’s a comedy: Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s daughter.”

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“Shakespeare in Love” is one of the few romantic comedies I’ll cop (in mixed company) to liking. How it did not make Joseph Fiennes a bigger star than he is I don’t know, because he found just the right mix of humor and longing. It probably helps that Tom Stoppard had a hand in writing the screenplay, and the cast is a dream — where else can you find Geoffrey Rush, Dame Judi Dench and Ben Affleck in ONE movie? Definitely a classic.

M. Carter at the Movies

You’re right about Fiennes, I was expecting him to be the next big thing but he seemed to vanish 😦
The cast is awesome, no one is weak.

Great film. Did it deserve to beat Saving Private Ryan? I don’t think so, but I can see why it did. Good review, thanks for checking mine out Katie!

No worries, thanks for returning the favour. I’ve only seen the infamous first half hour of Private Ryan so I can’t really judge, but I definitely think it’s an oscar worthy film, it just had a lot of stiff competion

R&J is definitely one of my favorite Shakespeare plays.
I have probably watched ‘Shakespeare in Love’ a dozen times. Never grow tired of it.

Top three for me remain, however Hamlet, Macbeth, and Lear.
For Hamlet movies, I prefer Zeffirelli For Macbeth Polanski. For Lear, Olivier.

Thanks for sharing.
Great post on a great movie.


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