Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Shakespeare in Love (1998)
  • Time: 123 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama | Romance
  • Director: John Madden
  • Cast: Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush, Tom Wilkinson


Romantic comedy set in London in the late 16th century: Young playwright William Shakespeare struggles with his latest work “Romeo and Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter”. A great fan of Shakespeare’s plays is young, wealthy Viola who is about to be married to the cold-hearted Lord Wessex, but constantly dreams of becoming an actress. Women were not allowed to act on stage at that time (female roles were played by men, too), but dressed up as a boy, Viola successfully auditions for the part of Romeo. Soon she and William are caught in a forbidden romance that provides rich inspiration for his play.

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  • What if William Shakespeare had writer’s block when he wrote Romeo and Juliet? What if that classic was first named Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter? What if Shakespeare’s own romantic travails inspired and informed Romeo’s? These are some of the conceits that comprise Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard’s deliciously witty screenplay for Shakespeare in Love.

    It is 1593 in Elizabethan England and though it may be centuries away, it is a time not unlike our own: commercialism cramps creativity, women are second-class citizens bartered away in marriages, playwrights are at the mercy of temperamental and egotistical actors as well as tight-fisted financiers, and everyone is looking for love. Amidst all this, two rival theater houses: The Curtain owned by the great actor Richard Burbage and The Rose owned by Philip Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush), who is having a bit of a cash flow problem. Tortured by his debtors, he promises to pay them with the money he’ll make from Shakespeare’s new comedy, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter. After much musing, Hugh Fennyman (Tom Wilkinson) agrees. The play will open in two weeks.

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