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11 - Reading Shakespeare’s Wars on Film

Ideology and Montage

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2021

David Loewenstein
Affiliation:
Pennsylvania State University, University Park
Paul Stevens
Affiliation:
University of Toronto
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Summary

This chapter considers how, in six successful Shakespeare films, exclusively cinematic formal methods of depicting battle serve to interpret and transform the plays’ perspectives on warfare. Special emphasis is placed on the concept (and deployment) of dialectical montage first developed by Sergei Eisenstein in his seminal 1929 essay, “The Dramaturgy of Film Form.” Though Eisenstein’s relatively rigid theory of montage has been endlessly appropriated, expanded and, at times, openly rejected by filmmakers and scholars alike, it remains ground zero for realist cinematic treatments of warfare and a key of sorts for deciphering individual filmmakers’ ideological orientations to their subject matter. The chapter argues that even the least overtly political film adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays tend to reveal a certain preoccupation with the ethical, ideological, and, of course, hermeneutic implications of representing battle scenes in a medium that all but demands their representation.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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References

Further Reading

Aumont, Jacques. Montage Eisenstein, trans. Hildreth, Lee, Penley, Constance, and Ross, Andrew, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1987.Google Scholar
Bordwell, David, Staiger, Janet, and Thompson, Kristin. The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960, New York, Columbia University Press, 1985.Google Scholar
Eisenstein, Sergei. “The Dramaturgy of Film Form,” in Braudy, Leo and Cohen, Marshall (eds.), Film Theory and Criticism, 8th ed., Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 2340.Google Scholar
Jorgensen, Paul A. Shakespeare’s Military World, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1956.Google Scholar
MacIntyre, Jean. “Shakespeare and the Battlefield: Tradition and Innovation in Battle Scenes,” Theatre Survey, 23 (1982), pp. 3144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Murch, Walter. In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing, 2nd ed., Hollywood, Silman-James Press, 2005.Google Scholar
Potter, Lois. “Scenes and Acts of Death: Shakespeare and the Theatrical Image of War,” in Jones-Davies, Marie-Thérèse (ed.), Shakespeare et la Guerre, Paris, Belles Lettres, 1990, pp. 89100.Google Scholar
Rothwell, Kenneth S. A History of Shakespeare on Screen: A Century of Film and Television, 2nd ed., Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004.Google Scholar
Salt, Barry. Film Style and Technology: History and Analysis, 3rd ed., London, Starword, 2009.Google Scholar
Semenza, Greg (ed.). “Shakespeare and the Auteurs: Rethinking Adaptation through the Director’s Cinema,” special issue, Shakespeare Bulletin, 34 (2016).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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