O Kenneth Where Art Thou?

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Dear Kenneth Branagh,

Do you know how it is to see a movie that hits you like a ton of bricks and changes your life? Well, of course you do.

Your Henry V did that to me. The first time I saw it I was only as vaguely aware of Shakespeare as most people are and I had some trouble following it, but understanding it all proved to be secondary to the impact the film had on me.  My days as a Shakespeare freak were about to begin.

You don’t get quite all of the credit – I was studying English literature at the Stockholm University at the time and good professors helped, but Henry V started making everything fall into place. Your Much Ado About Nothing didn’t hurt – who could resist falling for your Benedick and Emma Thompson’s Beatrice? Not I.

And then I saw your Hamlet and I was a goner.  It’s probably the best movie ever made; it’s certainly my all-time favorite.

In other words I was hooked and your Love’s Labour’s Lost and As You Like It only deepened my addiction; your excellently evil Iago only made it worse. Or better,  or whatever.

And then.

No more Shakespeare.

Yes, everything else you’ve done is more or less brilliant too. I loved FrankensteinThe Magic Flute made me like opera (at least while watching this one). Your Sleuth was even better than the 1960’s version and that has always been one of my Top Ten or so. Your Wallander does Sweden and Mankell proud. You were the perfect Gilderoy Lockhart. Et cetera, et cetera.

But what happened to Shakespeare?  You have more than thirty more plays left to film! Aren’t you longing to do the other biggies? Lear, Prospero, Macbeth? You and Emma Thompson (you’re still friends, aren’t you?) would do a spectacular murderous couple!  You could do so much with King John – the first Shakespeare play put on film, by the way, doesn’t that tempt you?  Measure for Measure has always been one I’d like to see, as long as it’s not made romantic and lovey-dovey at the end.  You could do great things with Timon of Athens.  Or The Winter’s Tale. Or – well, you know which plays you haven’t filmed yet.

Julie Taymor has made excellent Shakespeare films. Baz Luhrman did a fantastic Romeo and Juliet. Al Pacino made a masterpiece. But they’re not… you.

So Dear-Kenneth-Branagh-Making-Shakespeare-Movies, you are sorely missed. I can’t begin to thank you enough for everything you’ve done so far but Shakespeare freaks are never satisfied. The world needs you!  It’s time for a new wave of Shakespeare movies and nobody can do it like you.

Please come back!


With best and hopeful regards,

Ruby Jand

Shakespeare blogger

This sincerely felt fan letter is published on the day when it was announced that Sir Kenneth Branagh will be playing Macbeth at the Manchester International Festival in 2013. Click here to find out more. But will he make a film of it? Don’t miss our Filming Shakespeare webinar on the Shakespeare Films of Sir Kenneth Branagh. Click here for the link.

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Author:Ruby Jand

Ruby Jand has an MA in English literature and history from the University of Stockholm. She teaches history and English at grade school and high school level at the Sundbyberg School of Adult Education in a suburb of Stockholm. Her interest in Shakespeare has emerged recently, developing within the last year into an ongoing project on the blog Shakespeare Calling.
  • Dave

    I really wish to see him making some other great shakespearean movies, King Lear, Macbeth, even two noble kinsmen (the only play never filmed).

    Thanks for your post.

  • Duncan

    That’s *Sir* Kenneth Branagh to you, madam.


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