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New Wave Shakespeare on Screen



New Wave Shakespeare on Screen

Thomas Cartelli, Katherine Rowe

ISBN: 978-0-745-63393-0 January 2007 Polity 224 Pages

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The past fifteen years have witnessed a diverse group of experiments in ‘staging’ Shakespeare on film. New Wave Shakespeare on Screen introduces and applies the new analytic techniques and language that are required to make sense of this new wave.

Drawing on developments in Shakespeare studies, performance studies, and media studies, the book integrates text-based and screen-based approaches in ways that will be accessible to teachers and students, as well as scholars. The study maps a critical vocabulary for interpreting Shakespeare film; addresses script-to-screen questions about authority and performativity; outlines varied approaches to adaptation such as revival, recycling, allusion, and sampling; parses sound as well as visual effects; and explores the cross-pollination between film and other media, from ancient to cutting-edge. New Wave Shakespeare on Screen emphasizes how rich the payoffs can be when Shakespeareans turn their attention to film adaptations as texts: aesthetically complex, historically situated, and as demanding in their own right as the playtexts they renovate.

Works discussed include pop culture films like Billy Morrisette’s Scotland, PA; televised updatings like the ITV Othello; and art-house films such as Julie Taymor’s Titus, Al Pacino’s Looking for Richard, Michael Almereyda’s Hamlet, and Kristian Levering’s The King is Alive. These films reframe the playtexts according to a variety of extra-Shakespearean interests, inviting viewers back to them in fresh ways.

Plays and Films Featured in Chapters.

List of Illustrations.




Introduction: New Wave Shakespeare on and off Screen.

Chapter 1: Beyond Branagh and the BBC.

multiplying canons.

Chapter 2: Adaptation as a Cultural Process.

conceptual and critical resources • revival • recycling.

Chapter 3: Hamlet Rewound.

anachronism • tradition and “modernity” • remediation and memory • new media • underground cinema.

Chapter 4: Colliding Time and Space in Julie Taymor’s Titus.

allusion • interpolation • citational environments • conceptual art • ghosting • surrogation.

new media • expressionist film.

Chapter 5: Vernacular Shakespeare.

parody, burlesque, and masquerade,• docudrama • popular culture sound • riffing • sampling.

Chapter 6: Channeling Othello.

televisuality • surrogation • character function and effect • voiceover • race and performance.

Chapter 7: Surviving Shakespeare: Kristian Levring’s The King is Alive.

documentary and experimental film • voiceover • cultural memory • character function and effect • subtitles • substitution and translation.

Works Cited.

Films, Videos, DVDs, Television Cited.





"Tom Cartelli and Katherine Rowe are outstanding guides to the fascinating (and often daunting) cinematic world of ‘New Wave Shakespeare.’ Rich in insight and elegantly argued, this is by far the best book I’ve read about Shakespeare on film."

James Shapiro, Columbia University, author of 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare

"In case anyone thought the tide was ebbing on Shakespeare and film, here are Cartelli and Rowe riding the ‘new wave’ like pro surfers. As brilliant as film analysts as in their understanding of Shakespeare and his current cultural contexts, they are expert guides to a fascinating range of film adaptations and to subtle and provocative ways of thinking about the motive to adapt Shakespeare, about the strategies these films use, and about the theoretical models we can use to understand them. I learned much from every chapter – and so will my students as they engage in my courses with all that this book so clearly and helpfully encourages them to consider."

Peter Holland, University of Notre Dame

"Though now well established as an important branch of Shakespeare research and instruction, the study of Shakespeare on film has to keep moving to keep abreast of technological change, fresh talent and new audiences. By focusing on work that is contemporary, innovative and experimental, Cartelli and Rowe shift the paradigms of Shakespeare on film, and facilitate new interactions between critical, cultural, textual and media studies."

Graham Holderness, University of Hertfordshire, author of Visual Shakespeare

  • An innovative introductory textbook to adaptations of Shakespeare on screen, written by two highly experienced and well respected US academics.
  • Fills a gap in the market by concentrating mainly on the ‘new wave’ of Shakespeare adaptations – such as those by Baz Luhrmann, Peter Greenaway – which are widely taught but have been under-studied in textbooks to date.
  • Introduces students to the new vocabulary – taken from film theory and digital media studies – needed to engage with these ground breaking adaptations.
  • Traces the relationship of the new wave of adaptations to the more classic Shakespeare films of Branagh and co.
  • A highly trendy, cutting edge book which is very adoptable.