Title Shakespeare the Illusionist
Subtitle Magic, Dreams, and the Supernatural on Film
Author Neil Forsyth
ISBN 9780821423363
List price GBP 35.00
Price outside India Available on Request
Original price
Binding Hardbound
No of pages 232
Book size 153 x 229 mm
Publishing year 2019
Original publisher Ohio University Press (Combined Academic Publishers)
Published in India by .
Exclusive distributors Viva Books Private Limited
Sales territory India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, .
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“This is a wonderful book: learned, bright, and winningly written. It tackles an interesting issue (the nature of illusion in an art form which is all illusion) in Shakespeare on film and does so by not only providing rich and satisfying readings of some major Shakespeare films (Olivier’s Hamlet and Welles’s Macbeth, for example) that I had thought had been well mined by previous critics, but does so by placing those films in the context of the larger film history.”

—Samuel Crowl, author of Shakespeare on Film: A Norton Guide and Shakespeare at the Cineple


In Shakespeare the Illusionist, Neil Forsyth reviews the history of Shakespeare’s plays on film, using the basic distinction in film tradition between what is owed to Méliès and what to the Lumière brothers. He then tightens his focus on those plays that include some explicit magical or supernatural elements—Puck and the fairies, ghosts and witches, or Prospero’s island, for example—and sets out methodically, but with an easy touch, to review all the films that have adapted those comedies and dramas, into the present day.

Forsyth’s aim is not to offer yet another answer as to whether Shakespeare would have written for the screen if he were alive today, but rather to assess what various filmmakers and TV directors have in fact made of the spells, haunts, and apparitions in his plays. From analyzing early camera tricks to assessing contemporary handling of the supernatural, Forsyth reads Shakespeare films for how they use the techniques of moviemaking to address questions of illusion and dramatic influence. In doing so, he presents a bold step forward in Shakespeare and film studies, and his fresh take is presented in lively, accessible language that makes the book ideal for classroom use.



Introduction. From Stage to Screen 


Chapter 1. Silent Ghosts, Speaking Ghosts: Movies about Movies 

Chapter 2. Méliès and the Pioneers 


Chapter 3. “Stay, Illusion” 

Chapter 4. Supernatural Comedies • A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest

Chapter 5. “The Most Unfortunate Major Film Ever Produced”  Shakespeare and the Talkies 

Chapter 6. Ghosts and Courts • The Openings of Hamlet

Chapter 7. Macbeth and the Supernatural 

Conclusion. A New Hybrid: Taymor’s Dream 




About the Author:

Neil Forsyth teaches at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. He is the author of John Milton: A Biography, The Satanic Epic, and The Old Enemy: Satan and the Combat Myth, as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters.

Target Audience:

People interested in Film/Media studies.


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