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Focus on Shakespearean Films Review and Analysis This paper is a review and analysis of Charles Eckert’s book Focus on Shakespearean Films. It is an invaluable collection of essays about and reviews of classic films, from the 1935 Dream to the 1966 Chimes at Midnight. The book is structured as the set of Shakespearean films and works’ reviews that form a unique combination of authentic criticism. This work illustrates that apart from the chance offered by Shakespeare's theme for the presentation of the supernatural fairy world two matters are striking in Focus on Shakespearean Films. The first is that some passages which, spoken in the many modern theatres with their sharp parting of audience and actors, become single pieces of rhetoric lacking true meaning and implication and become later invested in the film with an intimacy they required on the stage. Eckert argues that the authority of the cinema is to get people near to an action so that one is able to observe a group of players from within or approach to overhear the secrets of a real plot.
The second striking feature of the work by Eckert lies in the ease with which he illustrates the cinema which depicts visual symbols in order to accompany language. In looking at contrasting scenes presented in Focus on Shakespearean Films, one will notice detailed description of the most significant parts of the movies. When Eckert talks about his preferences among the versions available, his evaluations is based on an accounting for the medium in which production occurs, a sense of what the script offers for a specific moment in the play, and a precise observation of what a particular production does with that moment. There is some redundancy of dialogue in the reviews, but the tendency in Focus on Shakespearean Films has been in the direction of minimizing the amount of speech. Eckert argues that if Shakespeare is shown on the screen, it is important not to make any overemphasis on words, rather than particular scenes. It is Eckert’s conviction that, because the cinema, for better or worse, has adopted talking, then it is to the benefit of everyone concerned that the dialogue should be concise and not too elaborative.
What is more, the author illustrates that the screen, at its best, had always had a peculiarly Elizabethan, if not Shakespearean, excellence about it. The truly colored dramatic action, the leaning to believe that heroes really should belong to the upper classes while the lower ranks of society should deliver the ludicrous relief, the ignorance of limitations of space – all of these matter have, according to Eckert, illustrated a certain parallel, which is sufficient evidence to state that Shakespeare and the films are not altogether estranged. At this point, it is appropriate to relate the Eckert’s work to the two version of the film Richard III by Locraine and by Olivier. Among Shakespeare directors, it is an ordinary practice to put them within the settings of a particular country and decade. This helps to explain the story for those who don’t understand the difficult language in which Shakespeare wrote his plays.
In Richard Locraine’s 1995 making of Richard III, the play begins with Richard of Gloucester, alone on stage. Upon studying the opening monologue of Richard III, spoken by the man himself, viewers may observe the evidence of Locraine’s foreground for his film. Locraine adapts the play to film by putting it in the context of Nazi Germany, which helps the viewers to form a better and deeper understanding of the Shakespearean theme (authentic principle is applied to modern settings). At the same time, the significance of Sir Laurence Olivier's ability of placing Shakespeare's plays on the screen is beautifully and brilliantly exhibited in his production and performance of Richard Ill. The latest of Sir Laurence's productions of Shakespeare’s plays is performed in colors which a true artist might be proud of and projected in the large-screen vision that offers the picture strong clarity and depth.
Sir Laurence's Richard III is marvellous portrait of a super-rogue whose dark intentions are kindly acknowledged with lick-lip relish and sardonic wit. Seriously made up with one dead eyelid, a cut nose, a withered hand, a humped back, a drooping shoulder and a twisted leg, he is a weird-looking figure that Sir Laurence so articulates that he has an electric energy and a monstrous grace. Eckert’s Focus on Shakespearean Films shares the ideas and views presented in both of the interpretations of Richard III by Locraine and Oliver. One may notice that the book and the two productions of Richard II differ in their representation and the effect they have on the reader and the viewer. However both of these works closely resemble the concept so deeply analyzed by Eckert – mainly the truest endeavour to present Shakespeare’s plays in a more understandable ways to the viewers, but not to loose the originality of the plot and theme.