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Cinema Junkie Podcast Episode 170: Summer Shakespeare

Two films inspired by the Bard and Globe launches its summer Shakespeare season

Judi Dench is Anne Hathaway to Kenneth Branagh's William Shakespeare in the new film "All is True," which imagines what Shakespeare' late life with his family might have been like.

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Shakespeare has been dead for four centuries but this summer there is a film about his life called "All is True," an adaptation of the book "Ophelia" that looks at "Hamlet" from Ophelia's point of view, and a pair of his plays and a lecture about his work at the Old Globe Theatre. Cinema Junkie looks to the two new ... Read more →

Aired: May 31, 2019 | Transcript

William Shakespeare may be dead but he's still trending. This summer his life is the inspiration for the film "All is True" and his play "Hamlet" gets reimagined as "Ophelia." Plus the Old Globe Theatre is launching its summer Shakespeare season. So enjoy a Summer Shakespeare podcast that strays a little from being just about film.

More than four centuries after his death, William Shakespeare’s plays still delight audiences, yet the man himself remains something of a conundrum. How could such an ordinary person who had little schooling and never left England have also been the literary genius who took us to Verona, Venice, Egypt and beyond, plus gave us star crossed lovers, the weird sisters, a melancholy Dane and a host of mad men, fools and kings. The new film "All is True" attempts to discover what this Mr. Shakespeare might have been like and how he could have written those fabulous plays.

"All is True," directed by Kenneth Branagh and featuring him as William Shakespeare, recently opened in theaters. It’s a charming and witty speculation about what Shakespeare’s retirement might have been like. There are some tidbits of truth based on the facts we know but also some clearly made up fantasy. Yet the title cheekily suggests "All is True."

The ordinariness of Shakespeare’s life is one of the reasons that some have insisted he couldn’t be the author of all those plays and have sought to assign credit to a more worthy person. "All is True" writer Ben Elton has an obvious affection and appreciation for Shakespeare and that makes the film both sweet and melancholy. The film gives us the man we might hope Shakespeare to be.

This summer will also see the release of the film "Ophelia," which reimagines "Hamlet" from Ophelia’s point of view and suggests her story is a very different one than what we see in the play. The film, based on a novel by Lisa Klein, takes a similar conceit to that of Tom Stoppard’s "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" in which the action of the Bard’s play is respected but the supporting characters are allowed a fuller life as we get to see what they are doing after they make their exits from the world of Shakespeare.

But all this leads into today’s Summer Shakespeare podcast with Old Globe artistic director Barry Edelstein, who is also a Shakespeare scholar.

In San Diego summer means Shakespeare because our renowned Old Globe Theatre, named after the Bard’s own venue, devotes the summer months to his plays. As artistic director, Edelstein oversees the summer season and usually directs one of the plays. This year he will be directing Romeo and Juliet for the first time plus he will be holding another edition of his Thinking Shakespeare Live lecture on June 8. But tickets are going fast so if you want to go, act fast.

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