- For the theatre adaptation, see Shakespeare in Love (play).
Shakespeare in Love is a 1998 British-American romantic comedy-drama film directed by John Madden, written by Marc Norman and playwright Tom Stoppard. The film depicts an imaginary love affair involving Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow) and playwright William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) while he was writing Romeo and Juliet. Several characters are based on historical figures, and many of the characters, lines, and plot devices allude to Shakespeare's plays.
In 1593 London, William Shakespeare is a sometime player in the Lord Chamberlain's Men and poor playwright for Philip Henslowe, owner of The Rose Theatre. Shakespeare is working on a new comedy, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter. Suffering from writer's block, he has barely begun the play, but starts auditioning players. Viola de Lesseps, the daughter of a wealthy merchant, who has seen Shakespeare's plays at court, disguises herself as "Thomas Kent" to audition, then runs away. Shakespeare pursues Kent to Viola's house and leaves a note with the nurse, asking Thomas Kent to begin rehearsals at the Rose. He sneaks into the house with the minstrels playing that night at the ball, where her parents are arranging her betrothal to Lord Wessex, an impoverished aristocrat. While dancing with Viola, Shakespeare is struck speechless, and after being forcibly ejected by Wessex, uses Thomas Kent as a go-between to woo her. Wessex also asks Will's name, to which he replies that he is Christopher Marlowe.
When he discovers her true identity, they begin a secret affair. Inspired by her, Shakespeare writes quickly, with help from his friend and rival playwright Christopher 'Kit' Marlowe, completely transforming the play into what will become Romeo and Juliet. Then, Viola is summoned to court to receive approval for her proposed marriage to Lord Wessex. Shakespeare accompanies her, disguised as her female cousin. There, he persuades Wessex to wager £50 that a play can capture the true nature of love, the exact amount Shakespeare requires to buy a share in the Chamberlain's Men. Queen Elizabeth I declares that she will judge the matter when the occasion arises.
When Richard Burbage, owner of the Curtain, finds out that Shakespeare has cheated him out of both money and the play, he goes to the Rose Theatre with his Curtain Theatre Company and starts a brawl. The Rose Theatre company drives Burbage and his company out and then celebrate at the local pub.
Viola is appalled when she learns Shakespeare is married, albeit separated from his wife, and she realises she cannot escape her duty to marry Wessex. Will discovers that Marlowe is dead, and thinks he is to blame. Lord Wessex suspects an affair between Shakespeare and his bride-to-be. Because Wessex thinks that Will is Kit Marlowe, he approves of Kit's death, and tells Viola the news. It is later learned that Marlowe had been killed in an accident. Viola finds out that Will is still alive, and declares her love for him.
When Edmund Tilney, the Master of the Revels, is informed there is a woman player at The Rose, he closes the theatre for breaking the ban on women. Viola's identity is exposed, leaving them without a stage or lead actor, until Richard Burbage offers them his theatre. Shakespeare takes the role of Romeo, with a boy actor as Juliet. Following her wedding, Viola learns that the play will be performed that day, and runs away to the Curtain. Planning to watch with the crowd, Viola overhears that the boy playing Juliet cannot perform, and offers to replace him. While she plays Juliet to Shakespeare's Romeo, the audience is enthralled, despite the tragic ending, until Master Tilney arrives to arrest everyone for indecency due to Viola's presence.
But the Queen is in attendance and restrains Tilney, instead asserting that Kent's resemblance to a woman is, indeed, remarkable. However, even a queen is powerless to end a lawful marriage, and she orders Kent to "fetch" Viola because she must sail with Wessex to the Colony of Virginia. The Queen also tells Wessex, who followed Viola to the theatre, that Romeo and Juliet has won the bet for Shakespeare, and has Kent deliver his £50 with instructions to write something "a little more cheerful next time, for Twelfth Night".
Viola and Shakespeare say their goodbyes, and he vows to immortalise her, as he imagines the beginnings of Twelfth Night, imagining her as a castaway disguised as a man after a voyage to a strange land.
- Gwyneth Paltrow as Viola de Lesseps
- Joseph Fiennes as William Shakespeare
- Geoffrey Rush as Philip Henslowe
- Colin Firth as Lord Wessex
- Ben Affleck as Ned Alleyn
- Judi Dench as Elizabeth I of England
- Simon Callow as Edmund Tilney
- Jim Carter as Ralph Bashford
- Martin Clunes as Richard Burbage
- Antony Sher as Dr. Moth
- Imelda Staunton as Nurse
- Tom Wilkinson as Hugh Fennyman
- Mark Williams as Wabash
- Daniel Brocklebank as Sam Gosse
- Jill Baker as Lady de Lesseps
- Patrick Barlow as Will Kempe
- Joe Roberts as John Webster
- John Inman as Lady Capulet
- Rupert Everett as Christopher 'Kit' Marlowe
- Sandra Reinton as Rosaline
The original idea for Shakespeare in Love came to screenwriter Marc Norman in the late 1980s after a rudimentary pitch from his son Zachary. Norman wrote a draft screenplay which he presented to director Edward Zwick, which attracted Julia Roberts, who agreed to play Viola. However, Zwick disliked Norman's screenplay and hired the playwright Tom Stoppard to improve it (Stoppard's first major success had been with the Shakespeare-themed play Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead).
The film went into production in 1991 at Universal, with Zwick as director, but although sets and costumes were in construction, Shakespeare had not yet been cast, because Roberts insisted that only Daniel Day-Lewis could play the role.Template:Fix Day-Lewis was uninterested, and when Roberts failed to persuade him, she withdrew from the film, six weeks before shooting was due to begin. The production went into turnaround, and Zwick was unable to persuade other studios to take up the screenplay.
Eventually, Zwick got Miramax interested in the screenplay, but Miramax chose John Madden as director. Miramax boss Harvey Weinstein acted as producer, and persuaded Ben Affleck to take a small role as Ned Alleyn.
The film was considerably reworked after the first test screenings. The scene with Shakespeare and Viola in the punt was re-shot, to make it more emotional, and some lines were re-recorded to clarify the reasons why Viola had to marry Wessex. The ending was re-shot several times, until Stoppard eventually came up with the idea of Viola suggesting to Shakespeare that their parting could inspire his next play.
Among the locations used in the production were Hatfield House, Hertfordshire (for the fireworks scene), Broughton Castle, Oxfordshire (which played the role of the de Lesseps home), the beach at Holkham in Norfolk, the chapel at Eton College, Berkshire, and the Great Hall of Middle Temple, London.
References to Elizabethan literature
Much of the action of the film echoes that of Romeo and Juliet. Will and Viola play out the famous balcony and bedroom scenes; like Juliet, Viola has a witty nurse, and is separated from Will by a gulf of duty (although not the family enmity of the play: the "two households" of Romeo and Juliet are supposedly inspired by the two rival playhouses). In addition, the two lovers are equally "star-crossed" — they are not ultimately destined to be together (since Viola is of rich and socially ambitious merchant stock and is promised to marry Lord Wessex, while Shakespeare himself is poor and already married). There is also a Rosaline, with whom Will is in love at the beginning of the film. There are references to earlier cinematic versions of Shakespeare, such as the balcony scene pastiching the Zeffirelli Romeo and Juliet.
Many other plot devices used in the film are common in Shakespearean comedies and other plays of the Elizabethan era: the Queen disguised as a commoner, the cross-dressing disguises, mistaken identities, the sword fight, the suspicion of adultery, the appearance of a "ghost" (cf. Macbeth), and the "play within a play". According to Douglas Brode, the film deftly portrays many of these devices as though the events depicted were the inspiration for Shakespeare's own use of them in his plays.
The film also has sequences in which Shakespeare and the other characters utter words that later appear in his plays, or in other ways echo those plays:
- On the street, Shakespeare hears a Puritan preaching against the two London stages: "The Rose smells thusly rank, by any name! I say, a plague on both their houses!" Two references in one, both to Romeo and Juliet; first, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" (Act II, scene ii, lines 1 and 2); second, "a plague on both your houses" (Act III, scene I, line 94).
- Backstage at a performance of The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Shakespeare sees William Kempe in full make-up, silently contemplating a skull, a reference to the gravediggers scene in Hamlet.
- Shakespeare utters the lines "Doubt thou the stars are fire, / Doubt that the sun doth move" (from Hamlet) to Philip Henslowe.
- As Shakespeare's writer's block is introduced, he is seen crumpling balls of paper and throwing them around his room. They land near props which represent scenes in several of his plays: a skull (Hamlet), and an open chest (The Merchant of Venice).
- Viola, as well as being Paltrow's character in the film, is the name of the lead character in Twelfth Night who dresses as a man after the supposed death of her brother.
- At the end of the film, Shakespeare imagines a shipwreck overtaking Viola on her way to America, inspiring the second scene of his next play, Twelfth Night, a scene which also echoes the beginning of The Tempest.
- Shakespeare writes a sonnet to Viola which begins: "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" (from Sonnet 18).
- Shakespeare tells Henslowe that he still owes him for "one gentleman of Verona", a reference to Two Gentlemen of Verona, part of which we also see being acted before the Queen later in the film.
- In a boat, Shakespeare tells Viola, who is disguised as Thomas Kent, of his lady’s beauty and charms, she dismisses his praise, as no real woman could live up to this ideal, this is a 'set up' for Sonnet 130, "My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun".
Christopher Marlowe is presented in the film as the master playwright whom the characters consider the greatest English dramatist of that time — this is historically accurate, yet also humorous, since the film's audience knows what will eventually happen to Shakespeare's reputation. Marlowe gives Shakespeare a plot for his next play, "Romeo and Ethel the Pirate's Daughter" ("Romeo is Italian...always in and out of love...until he meets...Ethel. The daughter of his enemy! His best friend is killed in a duel by Ethel's brother or something. His name is Mercutio.") Marlowe's Doctor Faustus is quoted repeatedly: "Was this the face that launched a thousand ships/ And burned the topless towers of Ilium?" A reference is also made to Marlowe's final, unfinished play The Massacre at Paris in a scene wherein Marlowe (Rupert Everett) seeks payment for the final act of the play from Richard Burbage (Martin Clunes). Burbage promises the payment the next day, so Marlowe refuses to part with the pages and departs for Deptford, where he is killed. The only surviving text of The Massacre at Paris is an undated octavo that is probably too short to represent the complete original play. It has been suggested to be a memorial reconstruction by the actors who performed the work.
The child John Webster who plays with mice is a reference to the leading figure in the next, Jacobean, generation of playwrights. His plays (The Duchess of Malfi, The White Devil) are known for their 'blood and gore', which is humorously referred to by the child saying that he enjoys Titus Andronicus, and also saying of Romeo and Juliet, when asked his opinion by the Queen, "I liked it when she stabbed herself."
When the clown Will Kempe (Patrick Barlow) says to Shakespeare that he would like to play in a drama, he is told that "they would laugh at Seneca if you played it," a reference to the Roman tragedian renowned for his sombre and bloody plot lines which were a major influence on the development of English tragedy.
Will is shown signing a paper repeatedly, with many relatively illegible signatures visible. This is a reference to the fact that several versions of Shakespeare's signature exist, and in each one he spelled his name differently.
Plot precedents and similarities
After the film's release, certain publications, including Private Eye, noted strong similarities between the film and the 1941 novel No Bed for Bacon, by Caryl Brahms and S. J. Simon, which also features Shakespeare falling in love and finding inspiration for his later plays. In a foreword to a subsequent edition of No Bed for Bacon (which traded on the association by declaring itself "A Story of Shakespeare and Lady Viola in Love") Ned Sherrin, Private Eye insider and former writing partner of Brahms', confirmed that he had lent a copy of the novel to Stoppard after he joined the writing team, but that the basic plot of the film had been independently developed by Marc Norman, who was unaware of the earlier work.
The film's plot can claim a tradition in fiction reaching back to Alexandre Duval's "Shakespeare amoureux ou la Piece a l'Etude" (1804), in which Shakespeare falls in love with an actress who is playing Richard III.
The writers of Shakespeare in Love were sued in 1999 by bestselling author Faye Kellerman. She claimed that the plotline was stolen from her 1989 novel The Quality of Mercy, in which Shakespeare romances a Jewish woman who dresses as a man, and attempts to solve a murder. Miramax Films spokesman Andrew Stengel derided the claim, filed in the US District Court six days before the 1999 Academy Awards, as "absurd", and argued that the timing "suggests a publicity stunt".
The film is "not constrained by worries about literary or historical accuracy" and includes anachronisms such as a reference to Virginia tobacco plantations, at a time before the Colony of Virginia existed. A leading character is a member of the House of Wessex, which died out in 1066. Elizabeth I never entered a public theatre, as she does in the film. Between Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth night, Shakespeare wrote 10 other plays over a period of 6 years. The biggest historical liberty concerns the central theme of Shakespeare struggling to create the story of Romeo and Juliet as he simply adapted an existing story for theatre. The Italian verse tale The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet had been translated into English by Arthur Brooke in 1562, 32 years before Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
Janet Maslin made the film an "NYT Critics' Pick", calling it "pure enchantment". According to Maslin, "Gwyneth Paltrow, in her first great, fully realized starring performance, makes a heroine so breathtaking that she seems utterly plausible as the playwright's guiding light." Roger Ebert, who gave the film four stars out of four wrote: "The contemporary feel of the humor (like Shakespeare's coffee mug, inscribed "Souvenir of Stratford-Upon-Avon") makes the movie play like a contest between "Masterpiece Theatre" and Mel Brooks. Then the movie stirs in a sweet love story, juicy court intrigue, backstage politics and some lovely moments from "Romeo and Juliet"... Is this a movie or an anthology? I didn't care. I was carried along by the wit, the energy and a surprising sweetness."
Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 92% positive critic rating based on 131 reviews with an average rating of 8.3 out of 10. The critics' consensus states: "Endlessly witty, visually rapturous, and sweetly romantic, Shakespeare in Love is a delightful romantic comedy that succeeds on nearly every level."
Shakespeare in Love was among 1999's box office number-one films in the United Kingdom. The U.S. box office reached over $100 million; including the box office from the rest of the world, the film took in over $289 million.
The Sunday Telegraph claimed that the film prompted the revival of the title of Earl of Wessex. Prince Edward was originally to have been titled Duke of Cambridge following his marriage to Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999, the year after the film's release. However, after watching Shakespeare in Love, he reportedly became attracted to the title of the character played by Colin Firth, and asked Queen Elizabeth II to be given the title of Earl of Wessex instead.
American Film Institute recognition:
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions – #50 
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs – Nominated
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) - Nominated
|71st Academy Awards||Best Picture||David Parfitt, Donna Gigliotti, Marc Norman, Harvey Weinstein and Edward Zwick||Won|
|Best Actress||Gwyneth Paltrow||Won|
|Best Supporting Actress||Judi Dench||Won|
|Best Art Direction||Martin Childs and Jill Quertier||Won|
|Best Costume Design||Sandy Powell||Won|
|Best Original Musical or Comedy Score||Stephen Warbeck||Won|
|Best Original Screenplay||Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard||Won|
|Best Director||John Madden||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor||Geoffrey Rush||Nominated|
|Best Cinematography||Richard Greatrex||Nominated|
|Best Film Editing||David Gamble||Nominated|
|Best Makeup||Lisa Westcott and Veronica Brebner||Nominated|
|Best Sound||Robin O'Donoghue, Dominic Lester, and Peter Glossop||Nominated|
|52nd British Academy Film Awards||BAFTA Award for Best Film||Won|
|BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role||Judi Dench||Won|
|BAFTA Award for Best Editing||David Gamble||Won|
|BAFTA Award for Best Direction||John Madden||Nominated|
|BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role||Joseph Fiennes||Nominated|
|BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role||Gwyneth Paltrow||Nominated|
|BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role||Geoffrey Rush||Nominated|
|BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role||Tom Wilkinson||Nominated|
|BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography||Richard Greatrex||Nominated|
|BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay||Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard||Nominated|
|BAFTA Award for Best Makeup and Hair||Lisa Westcott||Nominated|
|BAFTA Award for Best Sound||Robin O'Donoghue, Dominic Lester, Peter Glossop, and John Downer||Nominated|
|Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music||Stephen Warbeck||Nominated|
|BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design||Sandy Powell||Nominated|
|BAFTA Award for Best Production Design||Martin Childs||Nominated|
|49th Berlin International Film Festival||Golden Bear||Nominated|
|Silver Bear||Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard||Won|
|Directors Guild of America Awards 1998||Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures||John Madden||Nominated|
|56th Golden Globe Awards||Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy||Won|
|Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy||Gwyneth Paltrow||Won|
|Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay||Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard||Won|
|Golden Globe Award for Best Director||John Madden||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture||Geoffrey Rush||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture||Judi Dench||Nominated|
|5th Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture||Ben Affleck, Simon Callow, Jim Carter, Martin Clunes, Judi Dench, Joseph Fiennes, Colin Firth, Gwyneth Paltrow, Geoffrey Rush, Antony Sher, Imelda Staunton, Tom Wilkinson and Mark Williams||Won|
|Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role||Joseph Fiennes||Nominated|
|Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role||Gwyneth Paltrow||Won|
|Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role||Geoffrey Rush||Nominated|
|Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role||Judi Dench||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America Awards 1998||Best Original Screenplay||Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard||Won|
|1998 New York Film Critics Circle Awards||Best Screenplay||Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard||Won|
In 2005, the Writers Guild of America ranked its script the 28th greatest ever written.
- The film was spoofed and homaged, along with Star Wars, in the 1999 short film George Lucas in Love.
- The film was seen and frequently interrupted by Brenda Meeks in Scary Movie.
Error: no text specified (help). In November 2011, Variety reported that Disney Theatrical Productions intended to produce a stage version of the film in London with Sonia Friedman Productions. The production was officially announced in November 2013.
The production opened at the Noël Coward Theatre in London's West End on 23 July 2014, receiving rave reviews from critics, calling it "A joyous celebration of theatre" Daily Telegraph , "Joyous" The Independent, and "A love letter to theatre" The Guardian.
Based on the film screenplay by Norman and Stoppard, it was adapted for the stage by Lee Hall. The production was directed by Declan Donnellan and designed by Nick Ormerod, the joint founders of Cheek by Jowl.
- "SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 11 January 1999. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
- "Shakespeare in Love (1998)". BFI.
- "Shakespeare in Love (1998)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 2012-02-19.
- Avon Calling, Chicago Tribune http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1998-12-23/features/9812230314_1_romeo-and-ethel-shakespeare-marc-norman
- Peter Biskind, "Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance and the Rise of Independent Film" (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004), p. 327.
- Peter Biskind, "Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance and the Rise of Independent Film" (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004), p. 328-30.
- Peter Biskind, "Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance and the Rise of Independent Film" (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004), p. 330-1.
- French, Emma, Selling Shakespeare to Hollywood: Marketing of Filmed Shakespeare Adaptations from 1989 Into the New Millennium, University of Hertfordshire Press, 2006, p.153.
- Douglas Brode, Shakespeare in the movies: from the silent era to today, Berkley Boulevard Books, 2001, p.240.
- Ebert, Roger (25 December 1998). "Shakespeare in Love". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
- Greenwich 2000 (5 January 2010). "Greenwich England: Deptford". Wwp.greenwich2000.com. Retrieved 5 July 2010.
- Probes, Christine McCall (2008). "Senses, signs, symbols and theological allusion in Marlowe's The Massacre at Paris". In Deats, Sara Munson; Logan, Robert A. (eds.). Placing the plays of Christopher Marlowe: Fresh Cultural Contexts. Aldershot, England: Ashgate. p. 149. ISBN 0754662047.
- Burt, Richard (2002). Shakespeare After Mass Media. London: Macmillan. p. 306. ISBN 978-0-3122-9454-0.
- "Closed government". The Spectator. 6 February 1999.
- Portillo, Rafael; Salvador, Mercedes (2003). Pujante, Ángel-Luis; Hoenselaars, Ton (eds.). Four Hundred Years of Shakespeare in Europe. Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press. p. 182. ISBN 0-87413-812-4.
- "Novelist sues Shakespeare makers". BBC News. 23 March 1999. Retrieved 30 June 2008.
- "Writer sues makers of 'Shakespeare in Love'". CNN. 23 March 1999. Archived from the original on 4 April 2008. Retrieved 30 June 2008. Unknown parameter
- Maslin, Janet (11 December 1998). "Shakespeare Saw a Therapist?". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
- "Complete list of Shakespeare's plays, by date :-: Open Source Shakespeare".
- "A.R.T. - American Repertory Theater".
- "Shakespeare in Love (1998) at Rotten Tomatoes". Retrieved 27 April 2015.
- Richard Eden (12 December 2010). "Royal wedding: Prince William asks the Queen not to make him a duke". The Telegraph. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
- "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions" (web). Retrieved 30 March 2012.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 16 February 2012.
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) Ballot
- "The 71st Academy Awards (1999) Nominees and Winners". Oscars.org. Retrieved 19 November 2011.
- "BAFTA Awards: Film in 1999". BAFTA. 1999. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
- "Berlinale: 1999 Prize Winners". Berlinale.de. Retrieved 4 February 2012.
- "51st Annual DGA Awards: Winners and Nominees". Directors Guild of America. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
- "Winners & Nominees: Shakespeare in Love". HFPA. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
- "The 5th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards: Nominees and Recipients". Screen Actors Guild. 1999. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
- "WGA Awards: Previous Nominees and Winners". Writers Guild of America Award. 1999. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
- "New York Film Critics Circle Awards: 1998 Awards". New York Film Critics Circle. 1999. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
- "101 Greatest Screenplays". Writers Guild of America, West. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
- Cox, Gordon (13 November 2013). "Disney Theatrical Gets Busy with 'Shakespeare in Love' and 'Newsies'". Variety. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
- Clark, Nick (13 November 2013). "Shakespeare in Love to get West End play". The Independent. Retrieved 30 March 2015. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
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