Over the past long decade, Shakespeare on film has enjoyed a spectacular resurgence: beginning with Kenneth Branagh’s Henry Ⅴ (1989), the newly filmic face of Shakespeare has revealed itself in such diverse fare as Oliver Parker’s Othello (1995), Richard Loncraine’s Richard III (1995), Michael Hoffman’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999), Julie Taymor’s Titus (1999), Christine Edzard’s The Children’s Midsummer Night’s Dream (2001) and, most recently, Peter Babakitis’ Henry V; (2004), and this partial list does not even mention the numerous spin-offs – such as John Madden’s Shakespeare in Love (1998) and Kristian Levring’s The King isAlive (2002) – which respectively reinvent Romeo and Juliet and King Lear for pre-and post-millennial audiences. In deploying modes of popular entertainment, editorial restlessness, action-oriented narratives, intertextual borrowings and self-conscious registers, the films display an acute responsiveness to the conventions and exigencies of the global Hollywood machine. Consequently, these and other film adaptations have shifted the conventional textual and theatrical axes of Shakespeare, granting him a fresh vernacular applicability and, in terms of the Bard’s postmodern meanings, establishing the crucial importance of the screen. The multiplex, the video, the DVD player, the PC, the laptop – these are the spaces in which Shakespeare is now written and rewritten – with an unprecedented degree of accessibility and visibility.
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