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John Madden
Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush
Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard

Young, out of ideas and short of cash, William Shakespeare meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays.

Box Office:
$25 million.
Opening Weekend
$2,609,894 on 295 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 122 min.
Price: $9.99
Release Date: 1/31/2012

• Audio Commentary with Director John Madden
• Audio Commentary with Cast & Crew
• “Shakespeare in Love And On Film” Featurette
• “Academy Award-Winning Costumes” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Theatrical Trailer, TV Spots & Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Shakespeare In Love [Blu-Ray] (1998)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 15, 2020)

Try as I might, I still can't quite get over the fact that Shakespeare In Love won the Best Picture Oscar for 1998. I don't feel this way because I thought it was a terrible film or because I thought any of its competitors were significantly better.

No, I just still remain somewhat shocked because while Love delivers a well-made and entertaining picture, it just doesn't have "Oscar gold" stamped all over it. An unassuming romantic comedy, it seems out of character for Oscar’s big prize.

Set in the late 16th century, young William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) finds himself low on ideas for his next play. This becomes an even bigger issue because Will owes money to a disreputable sort, so he needs to produce a work that can make him some money – and soon.

Inspiration strikes when Will meets noblewoman Viola de Lessips (Gwyneth Paltrow). Complications ensue due to aspects of their relationship and the fact that Viola pretends to be “Thomas Kent” so she can act in Will’s play.

Earlier I mentioned Love doesn’t match the usual Oscar MO, and that should be a good thing. I've bemoaned the Academy's stiff tastes for years, since they seem to prefer somber historical epics over most other offerings.

That's why we've witnessed poor choices like Gandhi's victory over ET the Extra-Terrestrial and Chariots of Fire's defeat of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Although only loosely based on actual events, Love brought the historical part, but no one would ever call it "somber" or an "epic". It's a fairly light romantic comedy, which is not the kind of movie that usually wins Best Picture honors.

I do recognize that it was nice to see the Academy make even this minor break with their tradition, but it still startles me just because Love is so light that it's a miracle the images stuck to the film.

This movie is Hollywood “high concept” at its best. It's one thing to create a romantic comedy about a struggling writer and his love affair, but to make it about Shakespeare takes the whole thing to another level.

A dangerous level, I might add, for Love could quickly have become campy and silly. As it stands, it brings far too many clever-clever in-jokes, such as the way Shakespeare's lines are inserted into parts of the character's regular lives. There was something little too cutesy about that for my liking.

And the increasingly absurd escapades of the film's climax strike a false chord with me. I won't reveal what happens, but the events hearken to the intentionally-goofy revelations of the end of Tootsie.

Still, I must admit that Love has grown on me to a degree. I thought little of it when I saw it theatrically but I could see its charms a little more clearly during subsequent screenings.

Make no mistake: Love delivers a well-crafted, clever film that benefits from fine execution. I just can't help but continue to see it as somewhat over-rated, even if it is a good movie.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B- / Bonus B

Shakespeare In Love appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though not stellar, the image mostly satisfied.

Sharpness worked well, as only a smidgen of softness ever interfered with the presentation. The majority of the flick seemed well-defined and concise.

No issues with jaggies or shimmering occurred, and I noticed only mild edge haloes. Print flaws remained absent.

Colors seemed positive. The movie offered a broad palette and the hues seemed pretty lively and lush.

Blacks were dark and tight, while low-light shots gave us good delineation. The image didn’t excel but it pleased.

As one might expect from a character-driven comedy/romance, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundfield seemed modest, with little emphasis on creating much of an effect. The forward soundstage appeared pretty good, as a fair amount of ambient material emanated from the sides, and the movie's score also took advantage of the stereo sound.

The rear speakers were used consistently but lightly. I thought a noticed maybe one or two actual effects that came strongly from the surrounds, but for the most part they gently bolstered the music and ambience.

Audio quality was fine. Speech appeared concise and natural, and effects showed adequate clarity and range.

Music also seemed fairly full and rich. With its limited scope, this ended up as a “B-“ soundtrack.

How does the Blu-ray compare to the Collector’s Edition DVD from 2000? Audio seemed warmer and fuller, while visuals were tighter, smoother and more concise. This became a clear upgrade.

The Blu-ray repeats most of the CE’s extras, and these launch with two separate audio commentaries. The first comes from director John Madden and gives us his running, screen-specific look at story/characters, sets and locations, music, editing, cinematography and related domains.

Overall, Madden provides a good but not great track. On the negative side, he tends to simply narrate the movie a little more than I’d like. Even with that, though, he provides a mostly informative overview of the production.

The second commentary comes from a huge group of participants. We hear from Madden, actors Ben Affleck, Joseph Fiennes, Gwyneth Paltrow, Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Judi Dench, writers Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard, costume designer Sandy Powell, producers Donna Gigliotti and David Parfitt, production designer Martin Childs, and cinematographer Richard Greatrex.

Recorded separately, the track edits the speakers together for a discussion of set design and costumes, locations, cast and performances, story and characters, music, Madden’s impact and related areas.

Though it occasionally tends toward praise, the track boasts a lot of solid information. This becomes a largely engaging view of the film that benefits from the myriad number of perspectives on display.

Next we find a 21-minute, 40-second featurette called Shakespeare In Love And On Film. It offers notes from Madden, Norman, Stoppard, Powell, Affleck, Dench, Fiennes, Rush, Paltrow, Firth, Childs, Parfitt, NYU adjunct professor Richard Horwich, and film critic Glenn Whipp.

“Film” looks at aspects of the movie’s creation as well as other cinematic adaptations of Shakespeare’s work. It’s a fairly superficial show but it comes with some interesting tidbits.

A compilation of deleted scenes fills a total of 10 minutes, 49 seconds. Actually, the final 40 seconds offer an inside joke discussed during the second audio commentary, so it’s not a “true” deleted scene.

Two of the others offer extended versions of existing segments. One shows more of the fight that takes place during rehearsal and it lasts about three minutes, 45 second.

The other runs one minute, 25 seconds and it expands upon the bar scene in which we meet Marlowe. The former is truly excessive and makes the scene dull, so it was justifiably removed, while the latter adds little since it barely differs from the final shot.

The main scene we find is the first, a four-minute, 50-second segment that provides an alternate ending. It goes from the point not long after the completion of the play all the way through what would be the start of the credits. While the ending they used probably works better, this one actually has some merits and might have been successful as well.

The two-minute, 27-second 1998 Academy Award-Winning Costumes provides a brief discussion of those outfits. We get notes from Madden and Powell as we learn about period costumes. Though fine on its own, “Costumes” feels redundant, as we hear most of the info elsewhere.

The disc opens with ads for The English Patient, Good Will Hunting, Cold Mountain and Serendipity. We also find the movie’s trailer and nine minutes, 47 seconds of TV spots.

Though Shakespeare in Love remains a rather light trifle with little real substance, it's still a fun, clever and well-made piece of work. It also stays entertaining over repeated viewings. The Blu-ray boasts fairly good picture and audio along with some informative bonus materials. I don’t know if it deserved Best Picture, but Love still becomes a quality movie.

To rate this film, visit the Collector's Edition review of SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE

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