Feature films

Me Vs. You

Date: 2006
Posted by: BuddhaRhubarb
Credits: Created by Joe Boyce Burgess, for Blind Hill Pictures
Cast: Emil Jannings (Othello), Ica von Lenkeffy (Desdemona)
Duration: 1.26

A strange, borderline disturbing, mashup of the smothering scene Dimitri Buchowetzki’s 1922 silent film Othello with loops of music from an unnamed ‘garage band’ and sounds from the horror film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. What is it meant to signify? Perhaps it is best not to think about that too deeply. Its creator, Joe Boyce Burgess, has created other such bizarre juxtapositions of film and alien sound, though only this one with a Shakespearean touch.

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Date: 2007
Posted by: clanxmac
Credits: Created by clanxmac (Liz), music ‘Nineveh’ by E.S. Posthumous. A Low Flying Kiwi Production
Cast: Christian Bale (Othello), Emily Watson (Desdemona), Sean Bean (Iago), Angus MacFayden (Brabanzio), Tyne Diggs (Cassio), Sean Pertwee (The Duke of Venice)
Duration: 5.29

This is really quite inspired. Its creator has taken footage from the 2002 film Equilibrium, starring Christian Bale, Emily Watson and Sean Bean, and recut it as though it were a trailer for an Othello. The original film is a science fiction drama, set in a future world controlled by a Fascistic regime which suppresses the emotions and the arts. Equilibrium has no connection with Othello (it owes rather more to Orwell), but by concentrating on the three characters, with some clever choice of shots, and with a good deal of the power of suggestion making our minds doing the rest of the work for her, the filmmaker does indeed create something like Othello (even if Othello himself is not black). It goes on a bit long, and the mispelling of ‘despair’ is unfortunate, but as a kind of mashup in reverse, this is a creative piece of work.

(The video opens with lines from W.B. Yeats’ “He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven” – Yeats’ poetry is a feature of the film Equilibrium).

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William Shakespeare

Date: 2006
Posted by: srowan
Credits: Created by Alex Mueller and Scott Rowan. A Row 1 Production
Cast: Scott Rowan (William Shakespeare), Jenna Johnson (Anne Hathaway), Callie Parks (Francis Bacon, Actress), Griffin Ransdell (Bully no. 1, Messenger), Alex Mueller (Bully no. 2, Actor), Bill Rowan (Papa Shakespeare), Sandy Rowan (School Teacher), random people (extras)
Duration: 11.33

We first encounter William Shakespeare in a modern day American small town setting. He is sitting on a bench, when a quill feather flutters down beside him. He tells his life story to a girl sitting on the next door bench, who initially ignores him. We learn that as a child he loved to read, and learned about his ancestor who fought in the Wars of the Roses (“I don’t know why anyone would want flowers that bad”). Encouraged by his sweetheart Anne Hathaway, William learns to write and write and write. He joins the Lord Chamberlain’s men acting troupe and marries Anne. Then his father dies, and William writes a play inspired by his father, which he will call Hamlet (named after his father’s favourite meal of ham omelettes). The girl on the bench advises him to use some words he had just uttered (“Alas, poor York peppermint…”) in his play. Her name is Francis [sic] Bacon.

This is a remarkably accomplished 11-minute amateur parody of Forest Gump, telling instead the life of William Shakespeare. The music from the film helps, and it’s not a difficult film to parody, but such care has gone into recrafting shots from the original and duplicating its tone. It doesn’t tell us much about Shakespeare, except maybe to hint that his life for us now is, much like Forest Gump’s, little more than a blank onto which we imprint our own expectations of a national figure.

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Geto Boys/Macbeth Mashup

Date: 2007
Posted by: Scartol
Credits: Created by Scartol
Cast: Jon Finch (Macbeth), Francesca Annis (Lady Macbeth)
Duration: 5.13

A logical fusion of Macbeth with Gangsta rap, in this neatly-edited mashup of shots from Roman Polanski’s 1971 Macbeth (in widescreen), with Jon Finch as Macbeth and Francesca Annis as Lady Macbeth, to the music of the Geto Boys’ ‘Mind Playin’ Tricks On Me’. There are numerous adroit matches between lyrics and action; note, for example, the timing of the lines (from the song) of ‘my hands are all bloody’.

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De Niro’s Hamlet

Date: 2007
Posted by: VirtualVirtue
Credits: Created by Vish
Cast: Vish (Hamlet)
Duration: 2.19

An impressively psychotic interpretation of the ‘To be or not to be’ soliloquy, were it to be performed by Travis Bickle, Robert De Niro’s character in the 1976 film Taxi Driver. The art is not simply in its execution but in sensing the relationship between two characters teetering on the edge of madness, psyching themselves up for a revenge is as much against life itself as against any particular person.

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Hamlet (Derry Film Initiative)

Date: 2005
Posted by: Stephen Cavanagh
Credits: Written and directed by Stephen Cavanagh, produced by Richard Hughes and Keith O’Grady, music by Zan Lyons, cinematography by Stephen Cavanagh, Ellen Factor, Keith O’Grady, editing by Ellen Factor, Keith O’Grady
Cast: Stephen Cavangh (Hamlet), James Lecky (Claudius), Yvonne Richardson (Gertrude), Simone Kirby (Ophelia), Chris Simpson (Laertes), Antony Doherty (Horatio), Dominic Stewart (Polonius), Colin Stewart (Rosencrantz), Martin O’Brien (Guildenstern), Charlie Hughes (First Player), Anne Fitzpatrick (Second Player), Damien Devaney (Third Player), Declan Reynolds (Barnardo), Thomas Mullan (Marcellus), P.J. Gallagher (Gravedigger), Richard Hughes (The Associate), Keith O’Grady (Priest), Matthew Jennings (Aussie Rick), Anthony Brown (Ghost), Veronica Brown (Nurse)
Duration: 93mins

The Derry Film Initiative’s Hamlet, directed by Stephen Cavanagh in 2005, is arguably one of the most creative and successful Shakespeare films in recent years. It relocates Hamlet to modern Northern Ireland, reflecting the region’s violent history (the film’s opening transposes the lines from Act V, to remind us “Of carnal, bloody, and unnatural acts, Of accidental judgments, casual slaughters, Of deaths put on by cunning and forcéd cause”). Produced for a pittance, the film relies on strong performances, a battery of imaginative, filmic coups (particularly the use of point-of-view shots from Hamlet’s perspective), and the particularly resonant tones of Northern Ireland speech.

The Derry Film Initiative is a not-for-profit organsiation based in Derry, Northern Ireland, which aims to bring together talents from within the local filmmaking and acting communities to build a home-grown filmmaking base in the city. Hamlet was shot on digital video in and around Londonderry. All cast and crew worked for free, and supplied their own props. The film was not released theatrically, instead being released free to all online.

[Update (December 2011): Since this post was first published the version of the film available in ten parts on YouTube has been taken down and has been replaced by the higher image quality single version on Vimeo]

Vimeo page (full film – higher image quality)
YouTube page (full film)
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