During World War Two, many British writers and thinkers turned to Shakespeare in order to articulate the values for which their nation was fighting. Yet the cinema presented moviegoers with a more multifaceted Shakespeare, one who signalled division as well as unity. Shakespeare and British World War Two Film models a synchronic approach to adaptation that, by situating the Shakespeare movie within histories of film and society, avoids the familiar impasse in which the playwright's works are the beginning, middle and end of critical study. Through close analysis of works by Laurence Olivier, Leslie Howard, Humphrey Jennings, and the partners Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, among others, this study demonstrates how Shakespeare served as a powerful imaginative resource for filmmakers seeking to think through some of the most pressing issues and problems that beset wartime British society.
Peter Holland - University of Notre Dame
Mark Thornton Burnett - Queen’s University Belfast
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