Filming Shakespeare's Plays: The Adaptations of Laurence Olivier, Orson Welles, Peter Brook and Akira Kurosawa

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Shakespeare's plays provide wonderfully challenging material for the film maker. While acknowledging that dramatic experiences for theatre and cinema audiences are significantly different, this book reveals some of the special qualities of cinema's dramatic language in the film adaptations of Shakespeare's plays by four directors - Laurence Olivier, Orson Welles, Peter Brook and Akira Kurosawa - each of whom has a distinctly different approach to a film representation. Davies begins his study with a comparison of theatrical and cinematic space showing that the dramatic resources of cinema are essentially spatial. The central chapters focus on Laurence Olivier's Henry V, Hamlet and Richard III; Orson Welles' Macbeth, Othello and Chimes at Midnight; Peter Brook's King Lear and Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood. Davies discusses the dramatic problems posed by the source plays for these films for the film maker and he examines how these films influenced later theatrical stagings. He concludes with an examination of the demands that distinguish the work of the Shakespearean stage actor from that of his counterpart in film.