- Shakespeare, the Movie, II: Popularizing the Plays on Film, TV, Video, and DVD
Shakespeare, the Movie (1997) boasted sixteen essays and was marked by a range of approaches, with many of the contributions concentrating upon a single production. Since then, the industry and the field have expanded and diversified, leading to the need for a new study, which this work originally and excitingly fulfils. Modelled as a sequel, Shakespeare, the Movie, II has a tighter thematic focus and, while not exactly dealing with the films of the 1990s and beyond, certainly appears more obviously as a discrete intervention in a recent explosion of activity rather than as a historical survey. With the present volume, six essays have been retained or revised and ten—by Richard Burt (contributing two essays), Katherine Rowe, Michael Anderegg, Katherine Eggert, Laurie Osborne, Douglas Lanier, Thomas Cartelli, Courtney Lehmann, and Amy Scott-Douglass—have been added. The 1997 introduction has been jettisoned, replaced by a more urgently polemical piece which explains developments and incorporations, demonstrating the ways in which individual essays answer to shared concerns and perspectives. As a result, this is a bulkier book, no doubt in part because it includes a full bibliography and a list of all films and television programs (the distinction is helpful) cited.
Shakespeare, the Movie, II displays a welcome emphasis upon questions of postcolonialism, globalization, and digital film (although none of these are allowed to become wholly defining conceptual frameworks). Adaptations of Shakespeare in Europe and Asia (the remit and expanse of the content and coverage have been extended) are finely considered, and the different experience of Shakespeare and film that DVD has facilitated is subtly acknowledged. So, too, is the Web recognized as a resource and an agent and purveyor of knowledge, a symptom, as the introduction notes, of recent global tendencies. Popularization is more rigorously examined, and there are theoretically robust and probing discussions of such topics as the relationship between the local and the global, technologies of memory, Shakespeare in Love, Kenneth Branagh, mixed-media representations, film treatments of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare and the street, the Dogme95 movement, Shakespeare and Asia, and Macbeth and transnationalism. All of these contributions operate sophisticatedly and provocatively, never failing to energize or instruct. [End Page 130]
In its 1997 incarnation, Shakespeare, the Movie was criticized for a lax editorial technique, so it is particularly gratifying that the new work is generally free of error and has corrected the inconsistencies of the earlier volume. Shakespeare, the Movie, II must remain one of the first ports of call for devotees of Shakespeare and film and contains a wealth of wonderful insight and sharp reflection for the critic and enthusiast.
Mark Thornton Burnett is Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen’s University, Belfast. He is the author of Masters and Servants in English Renaissance Drama and Culture: Authority and Obedience (1997), Constructing “Monsters” in Shakespearean Drama and Early Modern Culture (2002), and Filming Shakespeare in the Global Marketplace (2007); he is also the editor or coeditor of numerous other works.