Mostly Shakespeare doesn’t work on film for me. I only have a short list of Shakespeare plays on film I have thoroughly enjoyed. There’s two Hamlets, Lawrence Olivier’s and Franco Zeffirelli’s, as well as Zeffierelli’s “Romeo and Juliet”. The comedies, “Midsummer Night’s Dream” with Kevin Kline, and Trevor Nunn’s “Twelfth Night”. And the BBC productions of the seven plays of the War of the Roses: Richard II; Henry IV, V, and VI; and Richard III.
I think part of the problem most directors have when approaching Shakespeare is they simply don’t understand the medium of film. They want to give us the play, and nothing but the play.
But I have to say that director Michael Radford got his film of “The Merchant of Venice” right and gave me my all-time favorite Shakespeare. From the set designs to the actors to the music by Jocelyn Pook, he takes me to a time and place that Shakespeare would absolutely have loved.
In Act 5 Scene 1, Jocelyn Pook gives us this lovely piece of music, How sweet the moonlight sleeps.The voice is that of Andreas Scholl, a German countertenor, specializing in Baroque music. Enjoy.