This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.
As Film Curator at the Dalhousie Art Gallery, I thought it was a good idea to revisit some of the cinematic versions of the Bard’s plays.
There is certainly no shortage to choose from. I did have a couple of guidelines. One was the 140 minute mark. The seats at the gallery are hard plastic, and most people are used to feature films being around two hours long. Shakespeare’s plays, however, generally run longer in their theatrical form. In film, some of the more famous ones – Roman Polanski’s Macbeth from 1971 for example – run 140 minutes or more. Alas, out went Roman’s well-known and well-loved film.
I’ve also found that people’s attention spans have shrunk a bit in the age of electronic devices and premium episodic television. Longer films will almost always lose audiences. I’ve actually seen this happen at the gallery.
Still, the films I’ve chosen for the series are all worth seeing for one reason or another. They run from the 1930s to the modern era, and include great productions from Orson Welles, Max Reinhardt, Julie Taymor, Ralph Fiennes, and others.
“Shakespeare 400” screens Wednesday evenings at 8:00 pm at the Dalhousie Art Gallery. Admission is free but donations are gratefully accepted; seating is limited so come early to guarantee admission. The series is supported by the Canada Council and Arts Nova Scotia.