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Shakespeare in love - Gwyneth Paltrow, Geoffrey Rush, Joseph Fiennes, John Madden

Threat advisory: Severe - Severe risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

A comedy about the greatest love story almost never told.

Shakespeare in love is a romantic comedy for the 1990s set in the 1590s. It imaginatively unfolds the witty, sexy and timeless tale behind the creation of the greatest love story ever told.

In a whirl of mistaken identities, mixed-up messages and misbegotten desires - between bawdy brawls, duels with jealous husbands and dangerous kisses - Will Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) searches for a resolution not only to his play Romeo and Ethel, the pirate's daughter but his own undying passion.

Persons of interest

  • Gwyneth Paltrow .... Viola De Lesseps
  • Geoffrey Rush .... Philip Henslowe
  • Joseph Fiennes .... William Shakespeare
  • Tom Wilkinson .... Hugh Fennyman
  • Steve O'Donnell .... Lambert
  • Tim McMullen .... Frees
  • Steven Beard .... Makepeace
  • Antony Sher .... Doctor Moth
  • Patrick Barlow .... Will Kempe
  • Martin Clunes .... Richard Burbage
  • Sandra Reinton .... Rosaline
  • Simon Callow .... Mr Tilney
  • Judi Dench .... Queen Elizabeth I
  • Bridget McConnell .... Lady in Waiting
  • Georgie Glen .... Lady in Waiting
  • Nicholas Boulton .... Henry Condell
  • Imelda Staunton .... Nurse
  • Colin Firth .... Lord Wessex
  • Marc Norman .... Screenwriter
  • Tom Stoppard .... Screenwriter
  • John Madden .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!

You don't need a university degree in Shakespeare to enjoy this film but if you do, you'll enjoy it even more than the illiterate pleb taking up the seat next to you. Taking all the best bits from the genre of romantic comedy (no, that isn't an oxymoron) and bunging them into the best bits of Shakespeare and stitching it all up with the best bits of Elizabethan England, Shakespeare in love is one of the best films I have ever seen.

Putting my university degree in Shakespeare to good use, I inform you that this film is wonderfully historically accurate in its background detail. For instance, the things you see on the floor (ie ground) of the theatre stalls are peanut shells (ie Elizabethan Jaffas). Putting my university degree in theatre to good use, I inform you that this film is incredibly historically inaccurate in its foreground detail. For instance, no King or Queen of England ever visited a theatre to see one of Shakespeare's plays.

However, and this is a big however, I instruct all film-goers to ignore these minor details because Shakespeare in love is so damned funny. Hilarious! Outrageous! Brilliant! And this is not just because Shakespeare is a playwright whose plays contain some of the best writing in the history of writing but because this film is so well constructed and well made that you have to take it on its own terms. Much like Titanic.

Here are some of the things that make this film so good: the action is based around the plot of Romeo and Juliet; there are a million and three Shakespearean in-jokes; the acting leaps from the screen; the attention to (background) detail is stupendous; the pace goes faster than doughnuts at a police station; the tragedy (this is Shakespeare) is truly tragedic.

This film has been nominated for a bushel of Golden Globe awards and for once I can see why. Even if you hate Shakespeare, you'll love Shakespeare in love.

Media intelligence (Superbit DVD)

  • Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, DTS 5.1
  • Disc: Single side, dual layer
  • Languages: English
  • Picture: Widescreen (2.35:1/16:9 enhanced)
  • Subtitles: Dutch, English, English captions, Hindi

Security censorship classification

M (Medium level sex scenes)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 11 February 1999
DVD retail: Undated July 2003 - Superbit

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