Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Unqualified Hamlet?

Mel Gibson
Leonardo DiCaprio.

Yesterday, I made a qualified claim about Hamlet: There have been more film versions of Hamlet than of [almost] any other Shakespeare play. The qualification was in there because I hadn’t yet done the math.

Well, it turns out that the qualification may be correct. I did a quick count of the movie version made of the two frontrunners in the most-film-versions competition in Eddie Sammons’ Shakespeare: A Hundred Years on Film (London: Shepherd Walwyn, 2000). Sammons’ work is a bit uneven, leaving out some versions I would expect to be there and counting others I wouldn’t really consider countable (for example, the book lists The Lion King—which is legitimate—but it also lists two brief Lion King promo videos—which I wouldn’t really count as separate items), but, with his numbers, we are, at least, comparing apples and apples.

It’s close, folks . . . it’s awfully close. And developments since 2000 may have changed this neck-and-neck race to the finish.

Sammons lists seventy-five Hamlet or Hamlet-related films. He lists seventy-seven Romeo and Juliet or Romeo and Juliet-related films.

So we’ll just keep that qualification in there for the time being.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

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Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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