Michael Brooke

November 12, 2008

Screenonline in November

Filed under: Screenonline — Michael @ 10:21 am

BFI Screenonline has just updated its homepage. I had little to do with the main feature (a survey of British short films), though it recycles my piece on Ken Russell’s Amelia and the Angel.

On the other hand, I was entirely responsible for one of the main supporting features, a 30th-anniversary tribute to the BBC Television Shakespeare project, for which I wrote not only the introduction but entries on 29 individual plays (I’ve watched, and still plan to write up, all 37). Despite the cycle’s wobbly reputation, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of many of the productions – I suspect much of the ire it attracted stemmed from the fact that the better-known plays (As You Like It, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest) generally received the dullest productions, thus distorting the overall impression. Conversely, the less familiar plays (All’s Well That Ends Well, Cymbeline, the Henry VI cycle, Henry VIII King John and Measure For Measure) came across far more effectively, perhaps because there was less of an established theatrical tradition to respect. That said, not even Jonathans Miller and Pryce could do much with Timon of Athens, one of Shakespeare’s weakest efforts.

My other new work includes a quartet of British Transport Films – Berth 24 (1950, the unit’s debut), Journey Into History, Dodging the Column (both 1952), Geoffrey Jones’s Locomotion (1975) – and a couple of Topical Budget newsreels: Strassburg Monument (1914) and Burgomaster Max (1921).


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