It may not strike you as the perfect Sunday night at the movies – it is, after all, in black and white, and in rasping Russian with English subtitles. But I urge you to sit forward on the settee and mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death with a rare showing of Grigori Kozintsev’s abridged version of the Bard’s most famous play. Based on the translation by Doctor Zhivago author Boris Pasternak, it is fairly faithful to the text, but 100 minutes shorter thanKenneth Branagh’s 1996 version and such a visual treat, with crashing waves, whistling wind, ghostly visions, prowling cameras, ragged minstrels, ominous skies and epic battle scenes. Predominantly shot on location, it’s elemental stuff, and the Dmitri Shostakovich score is imperial yet inquiring. Do not approach as homework, or a bowl of roughage, but as an example of international film-making at its most assured. And students can read it on screen as it goes along.
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