on July 16, 2004
The DVD casing claimed in big bold letters "Best Screenplay" Academy Award winner. I can surely see why! Must have been some deviously creative team that crafted this crisp comic period-piece.
The film is really two love stories: one a bawdy romance between two smitten humans, and the other an ode to the art of theatre. The writers'/director's love for showmanship is loud and evident throughout the brilliant screenplay, and if you're a fan of wordplay in any way, well then this is a surefire delight.
Both Paltrow and Fienners turn in lusciously romantic performances in their respective roles -- she pulls off the formidable order of gender-switching without a hitch, and he has just the right pitches and patterns for a young, struggling Shakespeare. Geoffrey Rush is magnetic as usual.
Don't be fooled by the Elizabethan accoutrements, this film and its arsenal of laconic quips could easily shoot several contemporary romances to dust. Buy this one in fact, don't just rent, it quite comfortably stands the test of more than one viewing..
on July 11, 2011
This Alliance version is probably one of the worst releases ever! First, there is no menu and no subtitles. This alone would be somewhat acceptable in your case if you understand English accents very well, but on top of that you get a very bad transfer with a noticeable blue tint on the edges of the movie! Looks like bleeding light from the scanner. Really bad. Try to get the other releases, avoid the Alliance one.
on August 23, 2011
This is not a review of the film which harvested 7 Academy Awards but of this blu-ray release. It is the worst I have so far. No extra features at all, not even a trailer, and, yes, not even a chapter menu!! The film itself is presented in 1080i at 29.97 fps and not in 1080p/24 which is standard for feature film releases on blu! How low can you go? Only one more step is possible: Remove the lossless audio. Congratulations Alliance, never ever will I buy one of your products again!
Well actually, this film stands on its own. Who knows this could be the way it happened or should have happened. Writer Tom Stoppard takes a few liberties with reality and time to bring you the "True" story behind Shakespeare's genius, which would never have surfaced if it were not for love, friendship, tragedy, and a Virgin Queen.
Young Shakespeare has writers block. Then he meets and falls in love with Viola De Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow) the daughter of a nobleman, Viola on the other hand is interested in the forbidden fruit of acting.
This film is set with one-liners and many witty inferences as each character plays off of the other. We almost had the play "Romeo and Ethel the Pirate's Daughter". My favorite line is when Philip Henslowe: The show must... you know... William Shakespeare: [prompting him] Go on!
Do not miss Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth. Her few appearances add spice to the film.
Judi Dench as Titania in Midsummer Night's Dream (1968) [VHS]
on June 1, 2004
This won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1998. Stars Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow as the romantic partners William Shakespeare and his Muse, with Dame Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth I. This is a lush film to look at in many respects. The authentic period costumes is a nice touch. The film is mostly set in the theatre of Shakespeare's day. At this time, there were no female actresses. Only men were involved in theatre. Men played the role of women. Nowadays, it's twisted to think the first Romeo and Juliet were two men. The movie has no accuracy or truth to actual historic account. William Shakespeare was never romantically linked to the character Gwyneth Paltrow plays.
The whole thing is a fictionalized, dramatic melodrama that never took place. William Shakespeare was married to Anne Hathaway but there is evidence he was unfaithful and loved the Jewish keyboard player "Dark Lady" of whom he writes about in his sonnets. The movie is merely Hollywood taking on Shakespeare and it has since been used in English courses throughout the US. Shakespeare is enacted by Joseph Fiennes who is doing a terrific job. However, I don't much care for Gwyneth Paltrow's performance, no matter how much Oscar appeal she was said to circulate. She comes off as pretty wooden and the typical romantic heroine straight out of a bodice ripper, romantic novel. All she does is fall in love for Shakespeare and even goes to the lengths of dressing as a man to be near him during production of Romeo and Juliet. Judi Dench, a sublime actress though she is, does not LOOK anything like the real Queen Elizabeth. They could have cast an actress who looked the part more truthfully. Judi Dench did a better job as England's Queen Victoria in the movie "Mrs. Brown". She looked exactly like her and her fastidious, overly refined manners were distinctly Victorian. And one last thing, Ben Affleck had no place in this film. Did he think he would win an Oscar too or some form of recognition ? Ben Affleck is not right for this movie, no matter how small the role. It just seemed out of place and I would have preferred to see a true Shakespearean legend in this movie like Sir Ian McKellen. But it's a movie that has a unique charm. The music is also very beautiful. Be sure and get the soundtrack if you really liked the music for this movie.
on May 16, 2004
SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE is absolutely one of my all time favorite films. A big part of its charm, for me, lies in the fact that it revolves around young Will Shakespeare, not Shakespeare, grown and established at the Globe Theatre.
Set in late Elizabethan England, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE takes place during a time when theatres were as often closed (for may reasons, plague being one of the worst) as they were open, and when Will Shakespeare was but a struggling, young playwright, attempting to hold his own against the more popular Kit Marlowe.
We learn a lot about theatre in SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, especially during the opening scenes, and, if you're a theatre lover (and a love of Shakespeare) like I am, this part of the film will delight you rather than bore you. Actually, the scenes are so delightfully performed and the dialogue so witty, I don't know how anyone could be bored, theatre lover or not.
SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE is a story revolving around Elizabethan theatre but it's also a love story. As Will struggles to meet deadlines (and with a broken quill, no less) he longs for something to recharge his batteries, so to speak. Along comes Viola De Lesseps, the daughter of a wealthy man. Viola not only goes against popular opinion and prefers Shakespeare to Marlowe, she has the overwhelming urge to act in one of Shakespeare's plays.
The roles of women, in Elizabethan England, were played by men, so Viola must dress, and act, as a man, Romeo, to be exact. And, predictably, but still, charmingly, Will Shakespeare is smitten by "Romeo," then later falls hopelessly in love with Viola.
Of course, the path of love, true or not, never runs as smoothly as we would like it to and it doesn't for Will and Viola, either. Complications arise when Will learns that Viola is to be married in only two weeks...to Lord Wessex, a man she really doesn't like but a man her father needs.
There is comedy aplenty in SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, and one of the most charmingly comedic scenes occurs when Will is caught in Viola's bedchamber. Will, apparently never one to lose an opportunity, tells his capturers that he is Kit Marlowe.
Joseph Fiennes is wonderful as young Will Shakespeare and very believable. Colin Firth plays the hateful Lord Wessex to perfection and Judi Dench, as Queen Elizabeth II, almost steals the show. I believe she would have, had she only had a larger role. Gwyneth Paltrow is not my favorite actress; I think she lacks range, but I think she was beautiful and delicate as Viola and she and Fiennes looked wonderful together. It certainly wasn't difficult to "buy" them as a couple very much in love.
Surprisingly, at least for me, was Ben Affleck in the role of Ned Alleyn. I would never have thought I would enjoy Affleck in a film set in Elizabethan England, but he did a wonderful job. The minor players were just as delightful as were the major ones, i.e., Simon Callow, Tom Wilkinson, Imelda Staunton and Antony Sher, all of whom, by the way, have acted in Shakespearean plays.
For me, SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE is a film with everything. There's intrigue, stage politics, romance, wonderful period costumes, jokes, asides, witty dialogue and more. It's all handled with a light touch, as it should be and it's all delightful.
SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE is a film I adore and a DVD that I had to own.
on April 24, 2004
Directed by John Madden ''Shakespeare in Love'' was the winner of 7 academy awards including Best Picture, Best atcress, and Best supporting actress.
This was a great film. The sets were good, the budget obviously was big, the acting was great by Fiennes, Paltrow, Rush and others and it was very entertaining. However the movie does have many flaws though most of which were revealed
on Special Edition DVD and by simple facts of history on Shakespeare himself.
For instance on DVD Director John Madden does mention that he takes
liberties with the film, including the depiction of future playwright John Webster as a street beggar, who gets turned by William Shakespeare. In fact, half of the film takes many liberties which scholars will debate as untrue.
For one is the depiction in which Christopher Marlowe (Rupert Everette) seems to be the one that gives Will, all the ideas to write ''Romeo and Juliet'', including the characer of Mercutio and Romeo. I asked this to my English teacher who is
a big Shakespeare buff and researched this and could find no proof that Marlowe
even met with Shakespeare. So these events in the film stretched the truth.
The other liberty the film takes is depicting Shakespeare as a heterosexual , who loves women, when in fact, the real Shakespeare loved not only women, but young boys. Shakespeare was a bisexual but you research his background, you'll
his Sonnets, for an unknown young man.
The good points of the film is that several depictions of Elizabethan life are factual.
Throughout the 13 to 1600's, the plays written by Shakespeare and Marlowe were largely unknown. Since, the Bubonic Plague was rampant this also
posed a problem for potential audiences.
Elizabethan theatres, like Shakespeare, chronically were unsactioned and held gambling and prostitution in between and after plays.
There is also the debate of Viola De Lesseps(Gwenyth Paltrow's character) who falls in love with Shakespeare. In fact my English colleagues, told me, that there is
no proof that Viola ever existed.
Shakespeare in Love is about young William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) who is struggling to make his new play (which would end to be ''Romeo and Juliet'')
to make ends meet.
His friend and business partner Philip Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush) is literally almost killed for the debts he owes , along with the fact that the theather he manages
has failed to show a profit. Shakespeare, then with a little help from Chris Marlowe,
(Scholars say that Shakespeare didn't even know Marlowe) gets the idea to make ''Romeo and Juliet'' (his most famous love tragedy).
Everything from the beginning goes wrong to make the play until Shakespeare finds a good actor named Thomas kent who is really a woman played named Viola De Lesseps (Gwenyth Paltrow).
Shakespeare at first doesn't know that Kent is a woman, but when he does, is when the funny action starts. However, all is not well, as Viola is in love a loveless
engagement with another man Lord Wesses (Colin Firth).
The famous playwright then must know find a way to finish his play and not lets his feelings get in the way for Viola, because it could mean the end of his life.
As I said the movie takes many liberties with the ''facts'' of Shakespeare, and more than half of the movie is filled with uncomfirmed, evidence on Shakespeare.
As I said, Shakespeare had an incredible desire for young boys, and it's illogical that Shakespeare would have fallen for this woman Viola so rapidly in the film.
In fact, there is part of the film that does show some of Shakespeare, homosexuality. The film also inaccurately says that Chris Marlowe and
Shakespeare well old friends, but against there is no evidence showing that.
Despite that, ''Shakespeare in Love'' is a pretty entertaining film that showcases what life was like during Shakespeare's time.
The DVD for the film comes with many extras including:
* A special feature on the making of the film
* A special look at the costumes made for the film.
* Over 5 Deleted scenes.
*Commentary from the Director.
*A special section showing a couple of facts on the real Shakespeare and much more.
So if you haven't seen the movie check it out and check out the DVD too.
on April 5, 2004
Clever. Witty. Self-referencing while still standing on its own. It's amazing this film ever got made, let alone beat "Private Ryan" for the big trophy. Despite the fairly excellent acting, sure editing, great costumes and effective use of music, this movie is essentially a writer's picture. The screenplay has many clever parallels to the Bard's plays but isn't contingent upon the audience recognizing them. The story has many loose ends, all of which are convincingly tied up by the end. And the director trusts viewers will put things together without having the characters explain too much, with the exception of the scene on the couch of the "confessional" at the beginning, in which a huge amount of exposition is very deftly given in a very short amount of time--again, brilliant writing.
Of all the performances, it may seen perverse to say that Paltrow's, good as it is, is the weakest. I say that because her Viola is a one-note lover (come to think of it, most of Paltrow's performances are one-note) without a lot of subtlty. This works fine when she's the boy, but as herself in private it's hard to attribute it to deliberate intent and more to simply shallow acting. And despite all the accolades, the youngest person ever to win an Oscar, etc., I think history will--based on her work so far--judge her as a mediocre actress.
Fiennes works well enough as young Will Shakespeare, though he does go over the top a little too much occasionally for my taste. But it is the supporting cast that shines: Geoffrey Rush and Simon Callow and Tom Wilkinson practically steal the show, and Colin Firth does well with yet another thin-lipped, spoil-sport part. (He seems to get them in every movie.) Judy Dench is certainly fine, but she doesn't get a chance to do much besides stand there and be Judy Dench for two scenes. The Oscar was clearly one of sentiment--she deserved it for Mrs. Brown the year before instead. However, the writers were cleverly able to use the qualities and circumstances of her character to resolve the ending in a way that would not have worked with any other character in any other situation, in the process concocting what may be the film's best line: "I know something of a woman in a man's profession. Yes, by God I do know about that."
The DVD is excellent, bursting with bonus features. There are actually far too many trailers (did they really think we needed the TV ads for the movie--and every one of them to boot?!), but fine commentaries, documentaries and interviews. My only minor gripe is the outtakes are not indexed individually. The most fascinating among them is the first version they shot of the ending. While not exactly an "alternate" ending, it may be described as a rough draft, and would not have been nearly as effective as what went into the final cut. They apparently advanced far with this first version, however, because it comes with post-production effects (dissolves and sound effects, for example) and music. The reshoot is much better, and proves the addage "God is in the details."
Perhaps a documentary about the real Shakespeare's times might have been illuminating, but overall very little to quibble about. I really feel this is one of those rare examples of a commercial Hollywood film deserving everything it got, and those who say it was nothing more than a formula "love story" lack the intellect and the familiar with the subject matter to look below the surface. Which returns me to my comment at the top, I'm amazed this film ever got made.
on March 28, 2004
the movie is great and only once i've gone through the commentary tracks did i realize how truly amazing the script really is (if you're a shakespeare scholar you'd have realized that without the commentary tracks i suppose). indeed the tracks are very informative, one is by director john madden and one by cast & crew, which is an mix of interviews and separate commentaries made by each individual. most noteworthy to listen to is the evil executive producer-cum-groupie julie goldstein who really sounds like a hollywood suit trying to tamper with the movie but talks about how she came to 'see the light' and let the movie be made the way it was written.
the featurette is great, talking about shakespeare on film and showing clips of other shakespeare movies. the trailers and tv spots are disgusting, the costume design featurette is nice and the deleted scenes are really interesting to see (especially the one of viola in america).
if you haven't read all of shakespeare's plays yet then a lot of the comedy will be lost on you, this is where the commentaries come in, they explain how everything fits in together and will cause you to laugh about a lot more things. indeed i change my mind about what i wrote at the beginning. this movie DID deserve the oscar.
on May 13, 2003
Shakespeare in Love is entertaining as comedy and romance, but the big problem is the utter fictitiousness of the story. Well it wasn't all fictional: There was a man named William Shakespeare and he did write a play called "Romeo and Juliet", but other than that....
So much effort (or money at least) was put into this film (the sets and wardrobes are excellent Elizabethan recreations) that it all seems a bit of a waste. The acting was competent, but two dimensional on the part of Gwyneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes. Paltrow did get the accent down well (most viewers thought she was really British), but it felt like her heart really wasn't in the thing. And I didn't believe for a second that Fiennes was Shakespeare.
The story tells how Shakespeare has writers' block (does anyone really believe he ever had it?) while trying to write a play called "Romeo and Ethel the Pirate's Daughter". Of course a major distraction from enjoying the film is that here William basically invents the play directly from his life at the time, based on his relationship with Paltrow (who initially is the actor of Romeo). But reality tells us the fictional story of "Romeus and Juliet" goes back at least 100 years (from Italy) before this, and actually back over 1000 years (from Greece as "Pyramis and Thisbe"). The question is why did Stoppard ignore the historical reality to do this?
What was good about the film was actually showing the play coming together, the rehearsals, all the way up to the debut performance, and if you know the play well these parts are interesting. But we keep getting the distraction of this William-Viola parallel to the play, not to mention the Duke who keeps barging onto the scene. I would've loved this if they stuck to historical fact...and perhaps got different actors.
Finally Judi Dench as Queen Elizabeth is good, but again her dialogue doesn't ring true. I understand this was meant to be kind of a parody, but I think they went way overboard.
At least there are some good sex scenes and the surreal "Twelfth Night" ending was well done also.