30 March 2021 1104 Views

Stop Dissing Shakespeare in Love.

by James Murphy

Oscars imminent. So arrives the annual bashing of Shakespeare in Love. Here’s why that’s SO wrong! And yes I know film is subjective. But. I am right..

  • Diversity is key to Academy Awards. More explicitly so today but the philosophy was always ‘there’ in so far as human interest stories that inspire the best cinematic craft surely speak to the human condition. They break down boundaries and barriers or at least pave the way to /remind us of inclusion processes. Shakespeare in Love qualifies on that count. Gender equality; identity; poverty vs wealth: it’s all ‘there’.

  • Best Picture means just that. BEST PICTURE. As in the film, how it looks and feels, overall. Yes of course Saving Private Ryan has the better opening sequence and Spielberg earned his best Director Oscar for that alone. But as a film, beyond that asset, it was thin and dull and mean spirited, with last minute schmaltz subbing for substance and heart. Spielberg is the guy who gave us the all action adventure hero academic Indiana Jones. Plus the subtle pathos of Schindler’s List, where even the nastiest of evil Nazi has a kind of texture to their fractured character. So it’s a massive disappointment that his coward in the platoon saving Ryan..is the sensitive writer guy. 

  • Shakespeare in Love is accessible without dumbing down; feels clever without being pseudo-erudite or pretentious. It’s a romp, with something for everyone but just that little bit extra for scholars.

  • The score, production design, set-pieces, cast: all superb. And it’s a largely upbeat affair, with just enough undercurrents of darker edge to avoid being bland, whilst never going ‘dark’.

Did Harvey Weinstein throw his (not inconsiderable) weight around and basically bully Oscar voters a bit? Sure. Dude should have done a little jail time for that perhaps long before he got owned by #metoo. But then, showbiz is a biz and a brutal one at that. It has its own politics and one of the symptoms  is an annual battle to get academy awards. Dirty tricks are never far away in the race. But Shakespeare in Love won fair and square. It IS Cinema!

 

Oh and above all? It has  Gwynnnnnieeeeeee: years before Pepper Potts; just as lovely and radiant and wonderful and yes she won her Oscar justly too. x



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