Shakespeare’s cinema of love

A study in genre and influence

Author: R. S. White

This entertaining and scholarly book takes as its theme the original argument that Shakespeare’s generic innovations in dramatizing love stories have found their way, through various cultural channels, into the films of Hollywood in the first half of the twentieth century and, more recently, Bollywood. It does not deal primarily with individual cinematic allusions to Shakespeare’s plays, nor ‘the Shakespeare film’ as a distinct, heritage genre, nor with ‘adaptation’ as a straightforward process, but rather the ways in which the film industry is implicitly indebted to the generic shapes of a number of Shakespearean forms based on comedy and romance dealing with love. Particular plays such as The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, and Romeo and Juliet all powerfully entered the genres of mainstream movies through their compelling emotional structures and underlying conceptualisations of love. Drawing on dozens of examples from films, both mainstream and less familiar, the book opens up rich, new ways of understanding the pervasive influence of Shakespeare on modern media and culture, and more generally on our conventions of romantic love. It is such connections that make Shakespeare a potent ‘brand’ and international influence in 2016, even 400 years after his death.

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‘R.S. White's timely book on the influence of Shakespeare on Hollywood cinema offers a refreshing account of the 'contestatory and symbiotic' relationship between Shakespeare's generic innovations and the development of cinematic genres in early Hollywood.'
David McInnis
Australian Book Review
June 2017

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