William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) is a known but struggling poet, playwright, and actor, who not only has sold his next play to both Philip Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush) and Richard Burbage (Martin Clunes), but now faces a far more difficult problem: he is bereft of ideas and has yet to begin writing. He is in search of his muse, the woman who will inspire him but all attempts fail him until he meets the beautiful Viola De Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow). She loves the theatre and would like nothing more than to take to the stage, but is forbidden from doing so as only men can be actors. She is also a great admirer of Shakespeare's works. Dressing as a man, and going by the name of "Thomas Kent", she auditions and is ideal for a part in his next play. Shakespeare soon sees through her disguise and they begin a love affair, one they know cannot end happily for them as he is already married and she has been promised to the dour Lord Wessex (Colin Firth). As the company rehearses his new play, ...Written by
At one point, when speaking to some prostitutes in the tavern, Will jokingly refers to himself as "William the Conqueror". William the Conqueror, of course, was the first Norman King of England, reigning from 1066 until his death in 1087. Will's line in this movie was most likely inspired by one of the few surviving contemporary anecdotes recorded about Shakespeare. Lawyer John Manningham wrote in his diary in 1602 that when Richard Burbage had played Richard III in Shakespeare's play, a woman in the audience was so smitten with him, that she "appointed him to come that night unto her by the name of Richard the Third". Shakespeare overheard the invitation, and went to the woman before Burbage, and "was entertained and at his game ere Burbage came". When Burbage eventually showed up at the door, Shakespeare let him know that "William the Conqueror was before Richard the Third". See more »
Biographical details of Shakespeare's life, especially his wife and children, ignored for the sake of dramatic license. See more »
A different end sequence. Here the conversation between Will and Viola is shorter than in the final film. After Viola has left Burbage enters and stops Will from running after Viola. He also takes the 50 pounds and says "Welcome to the Chamberlain's Men". The scene where Lord Wessex's ship sinks is also different. Here we see that Viola survives the drowning and is washed ashore an unknown coast. There she asks two people where she is. Their reply is "This is America".
A slightly different version of the scene where Burbank and his men fight against Will and his actors in the theatre. The sequence is largely the same as the scene used in the final film but parts are shown from different angles. A small conversation between Fennyman and Henslowe is added where they discuss about business.
A small scene which takes place after Henslowe has announced the audition. Here the two actors John and James walk to the court to play witnesses. When they meet the other actors and hear that Will Shakespeare needs actors for his new play they follow them to the audition.
A deleted take where Tom Wilkinson announces that he will be playing the apothecary. To Rushs question "How does the comedy end?" Fiennes replys "By God, I wish I knew". Then Rush says "By God, if you do not, who does? Let us have pirates, clowns and a happy ending and you'll make Harvey Weinstein a happy man."
In the movie Shakespeare in Love, a young and promising William Shakespeare is finding it difficult to write a new play. He feels he has lost his gift for stringing together eloquent sentences and yearns for some sort of inspiration to rid him of his horrible writer's block. William then meets the lovely and royal Viola, who is craving to be an actress. She becomes his muse, as well as the lead `actor' in his new play Romeo and Juliet, as they weave a tangled love affair. This burning passion they feel can only end with separation when Viola is forced to marry Lord Wessex and move to America. This film is a wonderful combination of romance, comedy, and drama that attempts a new perspective of the classic Romeo and Juliet story. It employs clever dialogue, beautiful scenes, and wonderful characterization to entertain the viewer. The film's Renaissance dialogue is true to its time period. With such an excellent script, William comes across as the master of speech that he really is. Some parts of the movie are purely funny as almost to parody the seriousness of Romeo and Juliet. Other parts intertwine the actual lines from the play, such as the multiple bedroom scenes between Will and Viola, to provide a unique and obvious parallel between it and the movie. When Will quotes `Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?' to Viola, this provides not only a sentimental scene but actual words from Shakespeare to add to the historical content of this film. This film has an interesting twist on the tragic tale because Will becomes not just a writer pouring out the lines for pay, but a man pouring out his heart in true love. At the end of the movie, Romeo and Juliet is presented as though you were actually sitting on the dirt floor of the playhouse. You see the play through the eyes of a person in England during the late 1500's, except by this time the lead is not longer Romeo and Juliet but literarily and symbolically Will and Viola. The setting of this film is very well done, and the playhouses, taverns, and elegant houses convey the feeling of Renaissance England. The costumes, including Queen Elizabeth's glamorous dresses and Viola's body-shaping corset, are seemingly accurate. (I would have hated wearing those clothes!) The scenes between Will and Viola are rarely anything but love scenes, and they, like their counterpart scenes in Romeo and Juliet, mostly happen at night. This adds to the mystery and forbidden feeling of the movie. The characterization of this film was splendidly carried out. I could not help but fall in love with the beautiful emotion that gushed from Will and Viola ( Will is extremely good looking by the way). When the couple was separated in the end, I felt like a terrible wrong had been committed. The character of Queen Elizabeth, with her snide comments and all-knowing attitude, was a comical representation of a serious position that kept me completely entertained. Christopher Marlowe also provides a wonderful character that conveys `real person' qualities of competition between two famous playwrights. I found this film to be completely engaging from start to finish, but I would not recommend it to everyone. I believe it could truly be given the title of `chick flick' by some viewers despite its fight scenes and comedic devices. The viewer will gain a knowledge of the Renaissance period and its characteristics while also getting the feeling of knowing the great William Shakespeare, however inaccurate the description of Will may be. I feel that now I appreciate the play Romeo and Juliet with a new sense of understanding that can only come from looking at an old tale in a new light.
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