Shakespeare in the Cinema

Ocular Proof

By Stephen M. Buhler

Subjects: Popular Culture
Series: SUNY series, Cultural Studies in Cinema/Video
Paperback : 9780791451403, 223 pages, November 2001
Hardcover : 9780791451397, 223 pages, December 2001

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations


1. Introduction: The Shakespeare Test

2. Ocular Proof: Three Versions of Othello

3. Documentary Shakespeare

4. Shakespeare and the Screen Idol

5. Shakespeare the Filmmaker

6. The Revenge of the Actor-Manager

7. Transgressive, in Theory

8. Gaining in Translation

9. Conclusion: The Next Century of Shakespeare

Works Cited

Index of Shakespearean Plays and Films

General Index

A comprehensive look at film adaptations of Shakespeare's plays.


Offering a comprehensive look at the strategies that filmmakers have employed in adapting Shakespeare's plays to the cinema, this book investigates what the task of Shakespearean adaptation reveals about film in general and focuses on patterns and approaches shared by various cinematic works. Buhler provides concise histories of each general strategy, which include non-illusionistic cinema, documentary interpretations, mass-market productions, transgressive and transnational cinema, and approaches that see film as either distinct from the stage or as an extension of theatrical traditions. The book spans more than a century of film, starting with the 1899 King John and extending through Michael Hoffman's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Julie Taymor's Titus, and later releases.

Stephen M. Buhler is Associate Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


"[This] readable and informative book … revels in how celluloid and electronics have challenged traditional ways of looking at Shakespeare. " — Cineaste

"Stylishly written … readers experience the films as situated within a historical and cultural matrix that extends beyond 'Shakespeare-speak' to reveal their own history. " — SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500–1900

"…of value to anyone interested in how Shakespeare has been cinematically imagined, co-opted, and consumed as art and as popular culture in the last century. " — Sixteenth Century Journal

"…discusses the teams that collaborate to modify and make Shakespeare entertaining for film audiences … [Buhler] offers a wide scope and a lot of sense. " — Bibliothèque d'Humanisme et Renaissance

"Buhler's book is comprehensive. He covers just about every Shakespeare film in existence, including some rare silent ones and some in other languages. This is a useful and well-written survey of a large field. " — Lois Potter, University of Delaware

"I like its thorough coverage of many films and its organization of the whole, which avoids a rigid chronology and instead shows the various strategies filmmakers have employed to create Shakespeare films. Instead of treating silent films in isolation, Buhler weaves them into his discussion of other films, exposing relations among films of the whole century. " — Bernice W. Kliman, coeditor of The Three-Text Hamlet: Parallel Texts of the First and Second Quartos and First Folio