April’s Friday Night Flix Features Unusual Visions of The Bard in “Alt.Shakespeare”

Belfast Free Library 7PM

 

April’s Friday Night Flix at the Belfast Free Library will feature “alternative visions” of popular Shakespearean plays: two Richard III, two Hamlets, but with a difference. As most of the productions have kept Shakespeare’s words intact, all films will be shown with subtitles to assist understanding of the language.

The month begins on April 7th with a documentary from Al Pacino, who both directs and stars in an investigation of Shakespeare’s relevance for today’s world, through “Looking for Richard” (1996). Pacino stars in a production of the play, as well as filming in-depth interviews with other Shakespeareans Derek Jacobi, John Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave, Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Kline, James Earl Jones, F. Murray Abraham, Aidan Quinn, Kevin Spacey, Estelle Parsons, Winona Ryder and Alec Baldwin. PG-13, 112 min.

On April 14th another “Richard III” (1995) will show the play’s modern relevance. This is a stirring adaptation by the incomparable Ian McKellen and is set in a fictional fascist world of 1930’s Britain. It is the story of a singular, power hungry man, with an urge to rule his people. Staring Annette Bening, Robert Downey Jr., Nigel Hawthorne, Kristin Scott Thomas and Maggie Smith.  Rated R, 104 min.

On April 21st we will see an updated “Hamlet” (2000) starring Ethan Hawke as the restless heir to the “Denmark Corporation” whose current CEO is his uncle Claudius. This is a modern, super-tech Hamlet, set in an almost-future world of limos and private jets, and featuring a closed-circuit appearance by the ghost of Hamlet’s father. Julia Stiles, Liev Schreiber and Bill Murray also star. Rated R, 112 min.

The month’s films ends on April 28th with “Gamlet/Hamlet” in a Russian translation of this timeless play. In 1964, Kozintsev, a noted Russian filmmaker, is quoted as saying he wanted to show the story “as political and public as it is personal.” Using the full might of the Soviet film studios, this extraordinary black-and-white production features a modern-day translation by Boris Pasternak and music by Dmitri Shostakovich. Kozintsev built a medieval castle for the production, and filmed much of it on the coast of Estonia to enhance the atmosphere. This is a revelatory production featuring beautiful sets and cinematography, and some very good acting. Unrated, but about PG-13 level, 104 min.

All films are FREE Fridays at 7 PM at the Abbott Room at the Belfast Free Library. If heavy snow is forecast, the films will be shown the next evening, Saturday at 7 PM.