FILM 354: Shakespeare on Film

Fall 2014
PsychoCinema Shakespeares

This course combines film analysis, psychoanalysis, and Shakespeare studies. We will examine film adaptations of Shakespeare’s work from the 1920s to the present in order to analyze how the cinema appropriates early modern psychologies to modern and postmodern culture. For instance, we will examine the transition from Laurence Olivier’s Oedipal 1940s Hamlet to Ethan Hawke’s more recent postmodern slacker-boy interpretation. For Hamlet, Othello, and Taming of the Shrew, we will begin by reading the play scripts and discussing psychoanalytic interpretations. Later in the semester, we will view film adaptations without reading the text first. Our aim will be to understand the films as art objects in and of themselves—cinematic artifacts that may or may not rely on the audience’s knowledge of the plays from which they are adapted. You should expect to develop an attentive ear for Shakespeare’s language, a film analysis skill set, and a working knowledge of some of the fundamentals of psychoanalytic interpretation.

This course will be writing intensive. You will write short “sequence” analyses, close readings, and shot-by-shot assignments. Your work in the course will culminate in an analytical essay that you will develop through the latter part of the semester.

Your goals in the course can be summarized as follows:

  • Develop skills in analyzing films in their various cultural contexts
  • Deploy the terms and techniques of psychoanalytic interpretation.
  • Demonstrate a nuanced understanding of how films of Shakespeare's plays adapt early modern cultural values to modern and postmodern cultures.

 Shakespeare Plays
Taming of the Shrew

Hamlet (1948)
Hamlet (2000)
Othello (1952)
Othello (1995)
Taming of the Shrew (1929)
Taming of the Shrew (1967)
Titus (1999)
Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)
Coriolanus (2011)

Donald Jellerson,
Jun 28, 2014, 12:06 AM