Shakespeare on Film with Ian McKellen @ The BFI Review

“400 years on, Shakespeare’s plays continue to dominate stages worldwide, mostly of course in translation, challenging actors, directors, designers and audience.” Ian McKellen. BFI presents Shakespeare Lives, the biggest ever programme of Shakespeare in the UK and across the world, in collaboration with the British Council. In this two month long festival, there will be an international tour of 18 British films, new 4k restorations, and of course landmark films by Laurence Olivier, Orson Wells and Kenneth Branagh. In this introduction event, Shakespeare on Film, the BFI does not disappoint showcasing iconic film adaptations, the legend that is Ian McKellen and an in-depth analysis of adaptations over the years.

Ian Mckellen

Shakespeare Lives produced by the BFI, embarks on a festival that inspires, and engages, presenting an accessibility that is often debated within the Shakespearean world. In this event, BFI unveil their aspirations for the festival, a programme of events set to explore on an epic scale how filmmakers have adapted, been inspired by and interpreted Shakespeare’s work for the big screen. As part of Shakespeare Lives, the British Council and the Great Britain campaign, celebrates Shakespeare’s works and its influence on culture, education and society. In an attempt to present Shakespeare through the lens of film, the BFI connects the world of live theatre and big screen, demonstrating a universality for all audience demographics, showcasing a wide range of excerpts and interpretations.

The BFI is the lead organisation for film in the UK and is undeniably leading the way for innovation, opportunity and creativity, restoring archived and often rare unseen screenplays, films and excerpts. In this festival, a connection is clearly promoted bringing audiences the widest range of Shakespearean adaptations, preserving and restoring films that have never been seen on the big screen. In this introduction event, it is evident the passion, collaboration and commitment that has been invested into this worldwide, international festival. Walking into the event, two chairs await their guests and the anticipation is overwrought. A pianist plays as the audience take their seats, showcasing a revolving presentation showing examples of infamous Shakespearean film adaptations.

We await the arrival of, legendary guest, Ian McKellen, and undeniably it is worth waiting for. In the conversation with the star, he explores and discusses his experiences of Shakespeare, discussing the 1995 adaptation of Richard III, starring himself as Richard. This event presents an initial response to the infamous playwright, featuring a compilation of live music, and an analysis of experiences. In this exclusive presentation, McKellen talks about his relationship with the complex scripts, contemplating his interactions with other actors, during his endeavours to bring Shakespeare’s texts to life.

This festival is set to be a highlight for anybody looking for something to get involved in. The programme of events is incredible, including a bus tour with Ian McKellen showing the iconic film locations of the Richard III adaptation, (yes, you better believe it), Play On! Shakespeare in Silent Cinema, International Touring Programme and Exhibitions that are universal to all. I strongly recommend investigating and finding an event that inspires and interests you, it’s a festival not to be missed. From this introduction event, it is evidently a festival of exploration, interrogation and connection, highlighting a perspective that has never been showcased so well. This festival is aptly constructed showing a variety of perspectives from Olivier, Zeffirelli, Bhardwaj and Branagh; it is bill that embodies an ideology of accessibility and inclusion. There will be a representation of both archaic and modern interpretations, offering a opportunity for everyone to engage. The festival offers a chance to explore the world of Shakespeare in a unique and diverse way. I leave the event inspired, not solely by the world of Shakespeare on film, but by the legend that is Ian McKellen. 4.5/5

Review written by Meg Mattravers.

For more information on Shakespeare on film programme at the BFI, visit here…

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