Thursday, August 1, 2013
The Ten Best Shakespeare Performances on Film
10. Marlon Brando as Mark Antony in Joseph Mankiewicz's 1953 Julius Caesar.
9. Ron Cook as Richard III in Shaun Sutton's 1983 BBC Richard III.
8. Vanessa Redgrave as Volumnia in Ralph Fiennes' 2012 Coriolanus.
7. Anthony Hopkins as Titus Andronicus in Julie Taymor's 2006 Titus.
6. Billy Crystal as the Gravedigger in Kenneth Branagh's 1996 Hamlet.
Yes, I know it's only one scene, but I needed another American.
5. Fredi Olster as Kate in William Ball and Kirk Browning's 1976 The Taming of the Shrew (San Francisco Repertory).
4. Ben Kingsley as Feste in Trevor Nunn's 1997 Twelfth Night.
3. Jeremy Irons as Henry IV in Sam Mendes's 2012 Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 (The Hollow Crown).
2. Derbhle Crotty as Portia in Trevor Nunn's 2000 The Merchant of Venice (Royal National Theatre).
Now, before naming the next performance, let me admit that a certain randomness governs the earlier selections. What, no films from the 30s? Or the 40s? Not even the 60s? What about Nicol Williamson's Hamlet, or Dr. Who's? No Orson Welles? And why isn't Derek Jacobi up there? (I'll tell you why. He's being punished. He knows what for.) Anyway, despite all that, there's no randomness afoot in my first-ranked performance choice. This choice is not arbitrary, but inevitable. The quality of this performance is not strained -- okay, to start again: we are dealing now with a new domain, another species of Shakespeare performance, and with an actor who boldly goes where no Shakespearean has gone before. I think you know who I'm talking about. It's:
1. Patrick Stewart as King Claudius in Gregory Doran's 2009 Hamlet.
In short: Patrick Stewart! Patrick Stewart! Not Mary Stuart! Not James Stuart! Not Jackie Stewart, nor Martha Stewart! Not Stewart Weaver, professor of American history at Rochester University! Patrick Stewart! Be my Facebook friend, P. Stewart! Follow me on Twitter! Follow me home! (No, not you, Stewart Weaver!) And that's all, til September. But do watch these films.