Things didn’t go so well in 1994 with 'Mary Shelley's Frankenstein',
which Branagh both directed and then cast himself as the mad doctor,
Frankenstein. It had many doubting the director's hitherto golden
touch. An adaptation of 'Othello' the following year, in which Branagh
was cast as Iago received a similarly lackluster reception. Next was
all-star, uncut, 1996 adaptation of 'Hamlet'. Clocking in at four
hours and featuring a peroxided Branagh as the Danish prince, Julie
Christie as Gertrude, Kate Winslet as Ophelia, Sir Derek Jacobi as
Claudius, and such actors as Robin Williams, Charlton Heston, and
Jack Lemmon in other roles, it was hardcore Shakespeare for the masses.
Although many potential audience members were scared off by the film's
length, it won a number of positive reviews, and Branagh garnered
a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination.
Branagh's subsequent efforts met with either disdain or indifference.
Falling into the latter category were The Proposition, The Theory of
Flight, and Robert Altman's The Gingerbread Man. Off the screen, he
was still keeping busy with Shakespeare, adapting Love's Labour's Lost
into a perplexing, '30s-style musical featuring the likes of Alicia
Silverstone, Matthew Lillard, and Nathan Lane. A variety of leading
roles in better received features followed in 2002, however, including
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, 'Rabbit-Proof Fence' (2002),
and the excellent TV miniseries 'Shackleton' (2002). It is alleged he
refused a CBE in 1994.
think the best actors are the most generous, the kindest, the greatest
people and at their worst they are vain, greedy and insecure."
feel more Irish than English. I feel freer than British, more visceral,
with a love of language. Shot through with fire in some way. That's
why I resist being appropriated as the current repository of Shakespeare
on the planet. That would mean I'm part of the English cultural elite,
and I am utterly ill-fitted to be."
films to see:
of War (1987)
Henry V (1990)