Shakespeare Plays Available in Video Format
Scholars Online Educational Resources


All’s Well That Ends Well
Antony and Cleopatra
As You Like It
The Comedy of Errors
Henry IV, part 1
Henry IV, part 2
Henry V
Henry VI, part 1
Henry VI, part 2
Henry VI, part 3
Henry VIII
Julius Caesar
King John
King Lear
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Measure for Measure
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
Richard II
Richard III
Romeo and Juliet
The Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest
Timon of Athens
Titus Andronicus
Troilus and Cressida
Twelfth Night
Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Winter’s Tale

Available versions

1910: Eugene Mullin, Charles Kent

1968: John Sichel

1980: John Gorrie

1986: Alan Erlich

1988: Paul Kafno, Kenneth Branagh

1996: Trevor Nunn

2003: Tim Supple

2012: Barry Avrich

2014: Tim Carroll


1992: Mariya Muat, Dave Edwards (animated)

2006: She’s The Man


2006: Shakespeare in Love

Twelfth Night
1996: Trevor Nunn

Of all the currently available versions of Twelfth Night, this is the only one that is a big-budget theatrical-release production. It’s beautifully filmed on location — not in Illyria, but in Cornwall — in and around stately homes and formal gardens; it accomplishes things de rigueur in cinematic presentation that cannot normally be attempted on stage, such as conversations conducted sotto voce, voice-over soliloquies, and tricks of multiple camera angles. Music is used to heighten emotional effect throughout; there are a number of interesting non-musical features in the sound-track as well, such as the fact that, as Feste is delivering his speech to Malvolio, “Thus the whirlygig of time brings in his revenges...”, we can subtly but unmistakably hear the ticking of a grandfather clock in the hall.

It also features first-tier cinema stars, including Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Kingsley, Nigel Hawthorne, Imogen Stubbs, and Richard Grant. Some may remember Mel Smith’s performance as the albino in The Princess Bride. All of them are veterans of film and stage, and their work is excellent throughout. All of the performances are at least solid, and most of them are superlative. Nigel Hawthorne’s Malvolio is perhaps not as subtle as many of the others one can find, but it is largely a directorial decision where one should place this on the spectrum from comic to tragic. Hawthorne’s version is largely comic. Richard Grant’s Sir Andrew, on the other hand, is somewhat less fatuous and idiotic than many of the others, and I personally find that a relief. Imogen Stubbs’s Viola is excellent, and the Sebastian chosen as her look-alike opposite actually resembles her fairly closely. In this version, moreover, the role of Feste is singularly significant. We see his interaction with and judgment of all the other elements and players in the play much more intimately, and the attitude cultivated by him and by the camera while filming him is one of some intimacy. He is, in many important ways, our window to the rest — as close to a point of view character as we get in what is essentially an objective medium.

Trevor Nunn (who directed the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1968-1986, one of its most productive and experimental periods) here continues the contemporary fashion (which he himself largely started with the RSC) of transposing Shakespeare into some other time and place than that for which it was written. It was clever once, perhaps; now it has become so routine that it is oddly clichéd (it’s worth having a look at the Onion parody report on the trend here.). But in the comedies it seems to be more successful than in some of the other kinds of productions, and here it works perfectly well. All the same, the setting is somewhat obscure: to judge by the costumes and architecture, it’s supposedly sometime in the nineteenth century (though a period when cavalrymen wore the silliest hats in the history of military headwear — round at the base, but flared and squared off at the top, as if they were aspiring to be mortar-boards). Both guns and swords make their appearances.

If there is a defect here, it’s that much of the emotional burden of the story is transferred to the visual medium, and the script is cut substantially. It is also supplemented with an initial voice-over narration that has no correspondence with Shakespeare’s text: we are led to understand that Viola and Sebastian were onboard entertainers on a luxury liner of some sort, and routinely did some kind of gender-bending act. This seems largely gratuitous, but it doesn’t get in the way of the rest of the film. The cutting is another matter. We lose such things as Feste’s explanation of who and what he is — which is to my mind critical. Similarly, many of the pivotal points of the thematic discussion are lost or concealed.

Antonio: Nicholas Farrell

Captain : Sydney Livingstone

Duke Orsino: Toby Stephens

Fabian: Peter Gunn

Feste: Ben Kingsley

First Officer: Tim Bentinck

Gardener: Jeff Hall

Malvolio: Nigel Hawthorne

Maria: Imelda Staunton

Olivia: Helena Bonham Carter

Priest: James Walker

Sebastian: Steven Mackintosh

Second Officer: Rod Culbertson

Sir Andrew Aguecheek: Richard E. Grant

Sir Toby Belch: Mel Smith

Valentine: Alan Mitchell

Viola: Imogen Stubbs