Film Forum

Filmworks fans pick their Shakespeare favorites

Vittorio and Paulo Taviani call their latest movie, Caesar Must Die, “a fiction film in which the reality of the prison is physically palpable.” (via Sony Pictures Classics)


By Jefferson Beavers

In March, Filmworks will screen the Italian drama Caesar Must Die, a film that The Hollywood Reporter calls “a fascinating encounter between theater and reality.” The selection coincides with the Rogue Performance and Art Festival, which celebrates its twelfth year in 2013.

The Italian filmmaker brothers Vittorio and Paolo Taviani might not be a household name in the United States. But their latest award-winning movie’s unorthodox mix of fiction, documentary, and theater produces a fresh new take on the classic Shakespeare tragedy Julius Caesar.

Filmworks asked its Facebook fans and friends to tell us about their favorite all-time Shakespeare films. Here’s what they had to say:

Filmworks fan Michael Borrero says: “I enjoyed Richard III with Ian McKellan (pictured right). His character was beyond menacing.”

Fan Claire Lynette prefers Twelfth Night because “it’s a great story, and also because of Helena Bonham Carter.”

Filmworks advisory board member Paula Singer favors Sir Lawrence Olivier’s Hamlet as well as his Othello. “The acting is extraordinary and they were cinematic,” she says. “When bringing Shakespeare to the screen, I think it is important to remember that the screen is not the stage. It shouldn’t look like a film of a play.”

Filmworks fan Scott Sutherland loves Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V (pictured left). He says: “It does for every war since Vietnam what Olivier’s version did for World War II.”

Fan Greg Birkel likes the 1993 Branagh version of Much Ado About Nothing “just because it’s so joyous.”

Filmworks president John Moses notes Peter Brook’s King Lear from 1971, with Paul Schofield as Lear and Jack MacGowran as the Fool. “The adaptation was inspired by what I consider the best interpretation of the play in Jan Kott’s ‘Shakespeare Our Contemporary,’” he says.

Via the blog Terribly Sorry

Fan Aileen Imperatrice says: “The Franco Zeffirelli version of Romeo and Juliet has a definite spot in my heart. It was the first Shakespeare movie I was introduced to in junior high.”

Filmworks advisory board member Teresa Flores also likes Romeo and Juliet, but she prefers the 1996 Baz Luhrmann version (pictured right) over the many others. “The aesthetics are so weird and bright and beautiful, and my teenager self was able to connect with the words like I had never imagined,” she says. “And it sells out EVERY YEAR when it’s screened at some romantic old theater in Hollywood for Valentine’s Day.”

So now, let’s see if Caesar Must Die wins any Shakespeare lovers’ hearts when it plays at the Tower Theatre.

Jefferson Beavers is a Filmworks board member and a freelance journalist based in Fresno.

Every second Friday of the month, Fresno Filmworks screens first-run independent and international movies at the historic Tower Theatre.