In honor of William Shakespeare’s birthday yesterday, we found this list from Harper’s Bazaar online of the best-costumed films of his plays:
1. Clare Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio play the leads in “Romeo and Juliet”, in Baz Lerman’s 1996 film. This is a modern-dress adaptation of the play. We don’t have this movie, but we have various copies of the play on the 5th floor, in the Main Reading Room at PR2759 .G8.
While we don’t have a copy of this version where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton play the tempestuous Katerina and Petrucchio, we do have the play itself on the 5th floor, in the Main Stacks, PR2832.A2 H3.
We have lots of great books on Elizabeth Taylor and her personal style, as well. For example, here is a new book on her: Elizabeth Taylor : her life in style, kept on the 4th floor in Art Reference PN2287.T18 K45 2011.
3. Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting play Juliet and Romeo in Franco Zefferelli’s gorgeous 1968 version of the play. Costumes for both this and Taylor’s version of “Shrew”, above, were designed by Danilo Donati, who won an Oscar for these. We have a copy of this film down in the DVD collection on the 5th floor: DVD PR2831 .A23 2000.
4. Kenneth Branagh made this adaptation of “Much Ado About Nothing” in 1993, when he was still married to Emma Thompson. The two of them play the central pair of lovers in this comedy. We don’t have the film, but the play can be found on the 5th floor, in the Main Stacks, PR2828 .A1 2007.
We don’t have this version of the show, but we have several other famous film versions. These are in the DVD collection, on the 5th floor: DVD PN1997 .H3649 2007. This version stars Ethan Hawke as Hamlet and was directed by Michael Almereyda.
Another version we have is the famous 1948 film which stars Laurence Olivier as Hamlet. This is also in the DVD collection on the 5th floor: DVD PN1997 .H365 2006.
6. The next stars on this list are Dame Judi Dench and Gwyneth Paltrow in “Shakespeare in Love”. The costumes were designed by Sandy Powell, and all three of the above-mentioned women won Oscars for this film.
I confess that this is one of *my* personal favorites, partly because of the beautiful and fun ways Tom Stoppard adapted Shakespeare’s own words, and partly because the costumes are so sumptuous (even if they are a bit Victorian-looking.) We have this film on the 5th floor, DVD PN1997 .S49 1998.
7. The last film on Harper’s Bazaar’s list is the 1999 version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, starring Michelle Pfeiffer as Tatiana, Queen of the Fairies. This is another movie we don’t have a copy of, but you can find the play on the 5th floor in the Main Stacks, atPR2827 .A1 1993.
We hope this listing and the pictures it included will encourage you to hunt down all of the film versions of Shakespeare’s plays. And in the meantime, Happy 450th Birthday, William Shakespeare, Poet of Our Hearts!