Teaching Shakespeare with Film and Television: A Guide

Teaching Shakespeare with Film and Television: A Guide

Teaching Shakespeare with Film and Television: A Guide

Teaching Shakespeare with Film and Television: A Guide

Synopsis

Shakespeare is one of the world's most widely taught and most demanding authors. Fortunately, many of his plays have been adapted for film and television, and these productions are a valuable aid for helping students understand and respond to his works. This reference shows teachers and students how to master the techniques of discussing productions of his plays on film and television. It distinguishes the advantages and limitations of film and television as media for representing Shakespeare's dramas. The book then examines strategies for incorporating film and television productions in the classroom and provides many specific examples of how to write about these adaptations of the plays. The volume describes numerous educational resources, both in print and on cassette. This reference will prove invaluable to teachers and students of Shakespeare at all levels, particularly at a time when Shakespeare films are being produced at an unprecedented pace.

Excerpt

This book is designed for all teachers -- from high school through college -- who use film and television in the teaching of Shakespeare. Students too will find the book useful since it suggests ways of using the many available and newly arriving cassettes, and lists materials that supplement the use of film and television in teaching the plays. The book not only suggests how to write and do research in a rapidly expanding and exciting field of inquiry but provides examples of such writing and research, from the review of a single production to the comparison of several versions of the same character or scene as depicted in productions emerging from different decades.

The book makes distinctions about the media that must be understood before any evaluation of a specific production can be attempted. In spite of their conflation on cassette, film and television are not the same medium, either physically or conceptually. The concept of script is discussed, that is, the words that are to be interpreted by actors and directors and placed in a context that becomes the world of the production.

That world is to a large extent defined by the space available in which to construct it. Kenneth Branagh 70-mm film of Hamlet occupies a wide screen in the cinema and is therefore able to fill the frame with detail. Laertes's rebellion, for example, is a full-scale military attack in what looks like regimental strength. The Nunnery Scene occurs in a huge hall of mirrored doors, with Claudius and Polonius lurking behind one of the doors, a two-way mirror. The scale is huge and would be totally inappropriate to the restricted field of depth of a television screen, where close-ups, two-shots, and the occasional three-shot are the norm.

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