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date: 25 June 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The cinematic medium is not immediately conducive to Shakespearean comedy. Issues of medium, frames of reference, and cultural politics pose challenges for Shakespearean comedy on film. Much of Shakespearean comedy is language-driven, whereas mainstream film tends to privilege the visual; the historically or culturally specific references or assumptions upon which much Shakespearean humour depends does not easily square with the contemporary frames of reference of much film comedy; because of the politics, it is difficult to treat plays like The Taming of the Shrew as straightforward film comedies without the risk of alienating portions of the target audience. This chapter surveys a number of strategies filmmakers have adopted to meet these and other challenges of transposing Shakespearean comedy to film. The chapter addresses not only so-called ‘faithful adaptations’, but also ‘free adaptations’, arguing that the latter tend to illuminate particularly well the challenges of translating Shakespearean comedy to the screen.

Keywords: film studies, teen comedy, cinematic adaptation, codes of representation, mass audience

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